Now the dust has settled I thought I would just say a few words about my experience of PyCon UK, my first conference where I have been involved in helping out with the organisation and running on the day(out of only 4 conferences I have ever gone to) .
Firstly, overall I think this was an excellent conference, the number and range of talks was amazing and it all ran pretty smoothly. With the exception of the comedy take away dinner at the pub on the Friday night (Zeth still hasn’t recovered from the stress of that I think) I was only aware of one other problem: No one was available to chair the last session in the room I was just vacating. (I did the intro and left them to it as I had to do some other stuff but it seemed to go ok and it was lunch after that. )
I looked through the feedback forms as we were sorting them out at the end of the conference and I did not see any major criticisms of the conference as a whole.
This is a remarkable achievement due in no small part of the work of the committee (of which I was not a part in case you think I am being immodest). The drive and commitment over several months paid dividends and though all the committee played their parts special thanks must go to Zeth and John for being the drivers and enablers for the conference.
I had a great time and enjoyed all the set up and chairing sessions (well I like the sound of my own voice). However it was really tiring and on Monday at work I was fit for nothing. Next time I will definitely book the Monday off to recover.
It does make a difference to how you perceive a conference if you are involved in the running of it. Seeing 200 people milling about and knowing you’re are helping them have a good conference is a great feeling. One thing I found was that when I wasn’t session chairing I didn’t actually want to go to any other talks I would rather chill out a bit and take stock. ( Well that and do some live blogging.) However cunningly I had chosen to chair sessions where at least one of the topics was something of interest to me. I wonder if I can get away with that next time.
This was also the first conference where I had been able to attend the social events and that was great fun and definitely something I will try and do at future conferences.
I would recommend anyone thinking of helping out at a community driven conference to give it a go. It’s hard but very rewarding work.