[Edu-sig] Fwd: Proposal: poster session

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Wed Jul 22 02:14:38 CEST 2009

Yo edu-sig!

FYI the below is archived as:

Vern is doing a good job of bringing our proposal before the Pycon
organizers, and I'm wanting to give enough background to make our
motivations clear.

Those of us with a CP4E background have little trouble understanding,
but in some circles its still a new idea that "everyone" would be
interested in programming for some reason.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: kirby urner <kirby.urner at gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 2:20 PM
Subject: Proposal: poster session
To: "Pycon-Organizers at Python.Org" <Pycon-organizers at python.org>

Kirby here.

Just wanted to chime in on the poster session thread, having been at
Pycon when the idea first surfaced, giving full credit to our fearless
chairman Steve Holden for thinking of it.  I hatched in Princeton's
philosophy department (1879 Hall) where we didn't have those, my first
exposure to "poster session" being 1st International Conference on
Buckminsterfullerene in Santa Barbara, Elsevier sponsoring (1990s
sometime, BFI was just moving there).  Steve has a stronger background
in academic engineering, even if he's beyond all that now.

In a nutshell, here's the premise:  Pycon showcases successful private
sector businesses mixed with some academics but has precious little in
the way of outreach to minors, under-aged, under-privileged looking
for a break, wanting to get noticed.

The "private sector business" flavor stems from using upscale hotels
with high price tags, meaning floorspace at a premium, can't expect a
full blown poster session ala Nanotubes 05, going along in parallel
with Europython @ Chalmers and dwarfing Python's exhibit space, as
nanotubes are more important.

Photo exhibit:  http://mybizmo.blogspot.com/2006/08/hp4e.html  (scroll
to bottom picture and click for larger view -- shows Europython geeks
mingling with nanotube people).

This idea for a "poster session" is at least our short term solution.

Our long term solution might be to host some satellite eduPycons on
university campuses, got the idea from Jeff Rush & Co. to piggy back
on science fiction conferences, in terms of outreach, mix in robotics
(device control), complete with tournaments.

These wouldn't be at luxury hotels necessarily, more likely university
and college campuses, although I've been pitching Angel of the Winds
as an example resort casino option, given interest in teaching
Pythonic Math [tm] in gambling subcultures in some niches....

Anyway, back to my main point:  picture a highly talented young
Pythonista in Poughkeepsie, wanting to showcase a pet project in the
equivalent of a national dog show, but for snake projects.  For the
time being, Pycon is the best we have to offer, and Vern Ceder has
generously volunteered to PSF take these pet projects in for
consideration, coordinate their getting some focus.  He has lots of
relevant experience from what I've discerned i.e. he really is a great
person for this position, hope he'll stick with it.

We planned this out as a BOF in Chicago and in followup
communications.  I don't think we need to second guess Vern as to how
he picks winners, or if he even does that.  He's writing the job
description as he goes, though I've suggested he build around the
Giles character in Buffy, known as "a watcher" informally -- at least
some kids will like that (means he's watching the radar "between
Pycons", keeping alert to what's out there in the field).

The based example I've yet seen, of a long-running conference that
mixes academic projects (posters) with company booths, is the ESRI
sponsored GIS in Action, held shortly after Pycon this year, with me
representing PSF in sharing our "lore".  You can look at my slides,
read my journal, at this address:

http://worldgame.blogspot.com/2009/04/gis-2009.html  (mentions Vern
and Pycons explicitly, as did my talk)

ESRI, for those who don't know, is the giant of GIS and standardized
on Python awhile ago, meaning a huge following in those circles.
Children of government GIS workers across the nation are chomping at
the bit to send projects to Vern (lets just model that), and what
we're hoping for Pycon, is some modest exhibit space in the corporate
exhibit area (like where geeks line up around coffee, munch cheesies).

Posters need not be accompanied by live actors, need to be the subject
of lightning talks, but do have lots of contact information, so geeks
munching and drinking, taking these in, have a way to follow up in
their capacity as talent scouts, blogosphere reviewers.  Kids will get
to read about themselves, get a sense of the competition, and so Pycon
will have served this new purpose and edu-sig people can nod
appreciatively, thinking Python Nation is really well governed, praise
Guido or whatever.

Lastly, although I've dwelt on minors, school aged kids, I didn't want
to give the impression we're precluding oldsters from diving in.  It's
just that FOSS geeks are getting old enough to have teenagers, have
input to Pycon's planning as parents not just as single males just out
of college or something (still a part of the demographic obviously).

So I see this as part of a maturation process, a sign of Python
reaching some milestones.  On a related topic, Laura has tried to get
the child care scene off the ground at Europython (some talk of my
Tara doing babysitting), but here we're skirting that issue by
suggesting a poster needn't come with a 15 year old directly attached.
 If said 15 year old wants to record some Youtubes to explain the
project, then getting that officially wired in to the Pycon site would
be a second aspect of this project (in addition to the physical poster

Make any sense?

Kirby Urner
PSF 09


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