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PyCon, Django in Chicago and general musings

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For the fourth year in a row, we have just completed our sponsorship of PyCon.  Each time I return to the office after the conference ends, I am filled with a particular energy.  This year that energy is more pronounced.

In many ways, our day-to-day work is done in relative isolation.  Most of our clients don't really know or care about the stack we use.  Quite frankly, they wouldn't know Python unless it bit them in the 6.  All the more reason why it is energizing to immerse in a group of people who care deeply.

Now that the dust has settled, I wanted to share some thoughts on our PyCon experience and what we are doing to keep the energy alive.

PyCon Conference

Attendance was near 1,400 which makes this the largest PyCon ever.  Once again, it was exceptionally well run.  There is so much going on and all of it was executed flawlessly.  I can't say enough about the volunteer staff - from Van and Jesse, to the A/V staff, to the room staff - it was an enormous undertaking and everyone managed to work together, in unison and without drama.  A loud and strong WELL DONE.

PyCon Sponsorship

We really like sponsoring.  We had a lot of fun designing and distributing our bottle opener swag.  We enjoyed manning the booth and catching up with Imaginary Alumni including Chris Webber, Mark Rogers and Ian Bicking.  We met new friends as well and are already continuing the conversations started in Atlanta.  There was ample traffic to the exhibitor hall and we had plenty of interest in Imaginary, who we are and what we do.

As a small company, we greatly appreciated the sponsor discount.  It helped us maintain sponsorship along with offsetting the expense of materials and transporting staff.

I was surprised and encouraged by the significant growth in sponsors this year.  It was also interesting to see the increased assertiveness in recruitment.  Both, it seems, are indicators that Python may be nearing a tipping point of sorts.

I have mixed emotions about Santa Clara - as us sturdy Midwestern folks often do about the tofu-nibbling west coast.  It is far away from us and undoubtedly more expensive.  Nonetheless, we will work hard to maintain our sponsorship in the coming year.  I'm also mixed about the Montreal announcement and suffer from a little border jealousy.  Mostly, I just want PyCon to come back to sweet home Chicago.

PyCon Presentation

As a non-technical person, I was honored to have my talk selected.  I submitted a talk proposal mostly to motivate Imaginary staff to do the same without any expectation of selection.

There was respectable attendance and thankfully no Twitter bomb-inspired mass exoduses.  The feedback was positive which makes me wonder if there is a role for more non-technical presentations in the future.  Food for thought anyway.

As far as the execution, the PyCon staff made me feel like a rock star.  The speakers-only "Green Room" was a nice place to prepare and test equipment.  There was a room chair and runner to guide me through the process.  Once on stage in the presentation room, I was flanked by a team of audio/visual volunteers to ensure I was properly plugged in.  I was also amazed at how quickly the videos were uploaded.  Once again, a professional job.

Beyond PyCon:  Chicago Djangonauts and DjangoCon

I watched with great interest Chris McAvoy's presentation about Threadless' transformation to Python and Django.  That got me thinking about EveryBlock and their headquarters in Chicago and wondering why there isn't an active Django users group here.

Chicago has ChiPy, which is active and devotes a fair amount of attention to Django.  But ChiPy has a different focus.  Surely Chicago - of all places - can support a Django-specific group.

Turns out it did.  The Chicago Djangonauts group was active for a time but has slipped into hibernation.  I'm looking to poke it with a stick to see if any life remains. 

Ultimately, I'd like to get DjangoCon to Chicago.  I'm thrilled that Steve Holden has taken the reigns of that fledgling conference.  With his guidance, DjangoCon will undoubtedly emerge as a better conference.  Imaginary Landscape hopes to assist him with that endeavor.

Parting Thoughts

I can feel the energy of PyCon slipping away and I want to fight that depletion.  Helping reconnect Chicago Djangonauts is a good first step.  Hopefully that community will re-emerge.

Regardless, this is a great time to be involved with Python and Django.  Both are on a growth trajectory and gaining momentum.  This benefits us all.

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