It’s over. For 2017 that is. One magical week in Rimini came to an end with the closing talks of EuroPython 2017 conference. This was my first truly technical no-nonsense conference, and I appreciated the change of scenery after all the business-enterprise conferences with all the buzzwords and PRs disguised as talks. You can be sure I’ll be coming back for 2018, but I’ll also try to attend other ones like PyData, PyCon, and others.
There was a lot to love, and a little bit to snub, but overall it was one of best decisions I took in 2017, to attend EuroPython.
Breaking it down to bits:
- The People: Unpretentious, welcoming, lovely Italian people and pythonistas from other countries. People you actually have something in common other than wearing suits. I enjoyed every bit of conversation I had, and left with lots of new friends. Even though I went alone, it sure didn’t feel like it.
- The talks: The talks were organized by tracks and there was a bit of everything python. My heart lies in stuff related to data science, but I listened to a lot of the other tracks, which opened up my perspective. Most of the talks were quite informative and educative, none of the PR stuff you usually find at enterprise conferences (there were some pitches during the lightning talks, but that doesn’t count :). The keynotes were well prepared and well executed. There were also the non-technical talks with contents like diversity, privacy, bias which sometimes gets forgotten among all the technical stuff, but nevertheless as important.
- Italy: Ah, lovely Italy. The beaches, the food, the weather. Coming from Amsterdam, it was a complete change of lifestyle for a week, and it was glorious.
- Social stuff: The social event was generally nice, it gave us the opportunity to socialize and chat with people whom we couldn’t due to the hectic atmosphere of the conference. That being said, being a fully-inclusive conference, EuroPython had lots of opportunities to socialize during breaks, lunches and workshops.
- Sprints: I had never been in a sprint / hackathon before, but I felt confident enough to take my chances this time. Although not as smoothly organized as the main conference, there were still some bright moments and takeaways that will sure to help me in the future.
- Goodies: I won’t lie. I love conference swag. T-shirts, fidget spinners, bags, pins.. I love it all. Bonus: O’Reilly had a stand where they sold their books 40% off. I bought four. My bag was crying.
- Diversity: It’s an issue. There’s no denying, no sugar coating. The number of women and people of color was embarrassingly low, and we all have to do something about this. There was a great talk by Anna Ravenscroft on this subject, where she suggested that we should all make a conscious effort to overcome our biases, it’s not enough just to be aware.
- Wifi: Every. Public. Event. Has. Shitty. Wifi. I thought a Python event would be better, but alas..
- The heat!: Fortunately the venue was air-conditioned, summer heat in Italy is unbearable at times. Biking to the venue under 35 degrees didn’t help.
- Speakers: Although the majority was ok, some speakers had limited public speaking skill, and I lost interest quite quickly after they started. One thinks that they would be prepared and practiced better for such a high-profile event. Though to be fair, that’s how they’ll improve, talking in front of people, over and over.
- Public speaking: Speaking in front of a room full of people is a skill that’s both important and necessary to have, and any tips & tricks on that front are well appreciated. There were moments of brilliance during some talks, but also some very concrete suggestions on improving your public speaking skills.
- Open Source: There’s nothing to be afraid when contributing. Start small, be confident, and make that pull request.
- Bias: Overcome your own biases, ignore subconscious patterns, and in turn reduce your models’ biases. It goes down the drain amazingly fast if you’re not careful and aware.
There’s a lot to be said. But these are my main impressions of my week in EuroPython. As I said before, I’ll be there in 2018, hope to see you there as well!