Trey Hunner

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PyCon 2024 Reflection

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I traveled back home from PyCon US 2024 last week. This is my reflection on my time at PyCon.

Attempting to eat vegan

Since 2020, I’ve been gradually eating more plant-based and a few months ago I decided to take PyCon as an opportunity to attempt exclusively vegan eating outside my own home. As I noted on Mastodon, it was a challenge and I failed every day at least once but I found the experience worthwhile. Our food system is very dairy-oriented.

Staying hydrated and fed

One of the first things I did before heading to the convention center was walk to Target and buy snacks and drinks. When at PyCon, I prefer to spend 30 minutes and $20 to have a backup plan for last minute hydration and calories (even if not the greatest calories). I never quite know when I might sleep through breakfast, find lunch lacking, or wish I’d eaten more dinner.

A tutorial, an orientation, a lightning talk, and open spaces

My responsibilities at PyCon this year included teaching a tutorial and helping run the Newcomer’s Orientation with Kojo and Sumana.

Yngve and Marie offered to act as teaching assistants during my tutorial and I was very grateful for their help! Rodrigo and Krishna also offered to TA just before my tutorial started and I was extra grateful to have even more help than I’d expected. The attendees were mostly better prepared than I expected they would be, which was also great. It’s always great to spend less time on setup and more time exploring Python together.

The newcomer’s orientation the next day went well. We kept it fairly brief and were able to address about 10 minutes of audience questions before the opening reception started.

Once my PyCon responsibilities completed, I invented a few more (light) responsibilities for myself. 😅 I signed up to give a lightning talk on how to give a lightning talk. They slotted it as the first talk of the first lightning talk session on Friday night. I kept this talk pretty much the same as the one I presented DjangoCon 2016. I could have made the transitions fancier, but I decided to embrace the idea of simplicity with the hope that audience members might think “look if that first speaker can give such a simple and succinct presentation, maybe I can too.”

On Saturday I ran an open space on Python Learning. Some of you showed up because you’re on my mailing list or you’re paying Python Morsels subscribers. Many folks showed up because the topic was interesting, either as a learner or as a teacher. I really enjoyed the round-table-style conversation we had.

I also ran a Cabo Card game open space during lunch on Sunday on the 4th floor rooftop. Cabo is my usual conference ice breaker game and I played it at least a few nights in The Westin lobby as well.

Seeing conference friends, old and new

For me, PyCon is largely about having conversations. The talks and tutorials are great for starting me thinking about an idea. The hallway track, open spaces, and meals are great for continuing conversations about those ideas (or other ideas).

My first morning in Pittsburgh, I chatted with Naomi and Reuven. I’m glad I ran into them before the conference kicked off because (as often happens at PyCon) I only very briefly saw either of them during the rest of PyCon!

After my tutorial that afternoon, I did dinner with Marie, Yngve, and Rodrigo at Rosewater Mediterranean (good vegan options, assuming you enjoy falafel and various sauces). As sometimes happens at PyCon, another PyCon attendee, Sachin, joined our table because we noticed him eating on his own at a table near us and invited him to join us.

On Saturday, Melanie, David, Jay, and I had a sort of mini San Diego Python study group reunion dinner before inviting folks to join us for Cabo and Knucklebones one night. The 4 of us originally met each other (along with Carol and other wonderful Python folks) at the San Diego Python study group about 10 years ago.

I had some wonderful conversations about ways to improve the Python documentation over dinner (at Nicky’s Thai) on Sunday night with so many docs-concerned folks who I highly respect. I’m really excited that Python has the documentation editorial board and I’m hopeful that that board, with the help of many others community members, will usher in big improvements to the documentation in the coming years.

I also met a number of Internet acquaintances IRL for the first time at PyCon. I met Tereza and Jessica, who I know from our work in the PSF Code of Conduct workgroup. I met Steve Lott, who I originally knew as a prolific question-answerer. I also met Hugo, a CPython core dev, the Python 3.14 & 3.15 release manager, and a social media user (which is how I’ve primarily interacted with him because the Internet is occasionally lovely). I was also very excited to meet many Python Morsels members as well as folks who know me through my weekly Python tips newsletter.

I was grateful to chat with Hynek and Al about creating talks, YouTube videos, and other online content. I also enjoyed chatting with Glyph a bit about our experiences consulting and training and (in hindsight) wished I’d planned an open space for either consultants or trainers, both of which have been held at PyCon before but it just takes someone to stick it on the open space board.

Many folks I only saw very briefly (I said a quick hi and bye to Andrew over lunch during the sprints) and some I didn’t see at all (Frank was at PyCon but we never ran into each other). Some I essentially saw through playing a few rounds of Cabo (Thomas and Ethan among many others). We also ran into at least 4 other PyCon attendees in the airport on Tuesday afternoon, including Bob and Julian, who it’s always a pleasure to see.

A Mastodon-oriented PyCon

On Thursday night I had the feeling that the number of Mastodon posts I saw on the #PyConUS hashtag was greater than the number of Twitter posts. I (very unscientifically) counted up the number of posts I was seeing on each and found that my perception was correct: Mastodon seemed to slightly overtake Twitter at PyCon this year.

Over dinner on Wednesday, I tried to convince Marie, Yngve, and Rodrigo to get Mastodon accounts just to follow the hashtag during PyCon. I succeeded: Marie and Yngve and Rodrigo!

Mastodon will never be the social media platform. Its decentralized nature is too much of a barrier for many folks. However, it does seem to be used by enough somewhat nerdy Python folks to now be one the most used social media platform for PyCon posting.

The talks

I ended up spending little time in the talks during PyCon. This wasn’t on purpose. I just happened to attend many open spaces, take personal breaks, and end up in hallway conversations often. I did see many of the lightning talks live, as well as Jay, Simon, and Sumana’s keynotes (all of them were exceptional) and the opening and closing remarks. I also watched a few talks from my hotel room while taking breaks.

While I’m often a bit light on my talk load at PyCon, I do recommend folks attend a good handful of live talks during PyCon, as Jon and others recommend. I wish I had seen more talks live. I also wish I had attended a few open spaces that I missed.

At any one time, I know that I’m always missing about 90% of what’s scheduled during PyCon (if you include the talks and the open spaces). That’s assuming I don’t ditch the conference entirely for a few hours and walk across a bridge or ride a funicular (neither of which I did, as I stuck around the venue the whole time this year). I am glad I saw, did, and talked about everything I did, but there’s always something I wish I’d seen/done!

The sprints

Thanks to the documentation dinner, I had a couple documentation-related ideas in mind on the first day of sprints. But I’m also really excited about the new Python REPL coming in Python 3.13 (in case you can’t tell from how much I talk about it), so I sprinted on that instead. Łukasz assigned me the task of researching keyboard shortcuts that the new REPL is missing (compared to the current one on Linux and Mac) so I spent some time researching that. I got to see the REPL running on Anthony’s laptop on Windows and I am so excited that Windows support will be included before 3.13.0 lands! 🎉

Partly inspired by Carol Willing’s PyCon preview message, I also thanked Pablo, Łukasz, and Lysandros in-person for all their work on the new Python REPL. 🤗

Until next year

I’ll be keynoting at PyOhio this year.

Besides PyOhio, I’m not sure whether I’ll make it to another conference until PyCon US next year. I’d love to attend all of them, but I do have work and personal goals that need accomplishing too!

I hope to see you at PyCon US 2025! In the meantime, if you’re wishing we’d exchanged contact details or met in-person, please feel free to stay in touch through Mastodon, LinkedIn, my weekly emails, YouTube, or Twitter.

Yellow bridges over a river just outside the PyCon 2024 conference center in Pittsburgh


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