[EuroPython] Future of EuroPython discussions

Paul Boddie paul at boddie.org.uk
Fri Jul 27 01:45:11 CEST 2007

It seems like so long ago already, but I'd like to thank everyone involved in 
EuroPython 2007, not only those who put a lot of work into organising things, 
but of course everyone who attended the conference and provided us with many 
interesting talks and discussions on a range of subjects. I'd also like to 
thank those who offered suggestions and advice about making EuroPython 2008 
even better, both inside the session reserved for that purpose as well as in 
informal conversations during and after the main event. Having just returned 
from another, much larger and more commercial conference, I'm in the mood for 
reflecting somewhat on conferences and what makes (or should make) EuroPython 
as special as it has been in the years I've been there.

In the run-up to EuroPython, the issue of attendance came up a few times: how 
many people would we get, and would it be as many as last year? I don't think 
I'm sharing secret information by saying that there were probably around 
220-230 people in attendance this year, versus 280-300 people last year. 
However, I don't think we should regard this as a sign of defeat or decline 
for the Python community, since there are more conferences this year, 
including a number of successful regional Python conferences in Europe (PyCon 
Italia apparently being well-attended and PyCon UK looking very promising at 
this stage). Moreover, even at the larger size EuroPython remains an event on 
a "human" scale, in contrast to the conference from which I have just 
returned which had 2000 attendees and where you often couldn't find anyone 
you knew in the breaks because there were probably three or four venues for 
coffee or lunch! A certain Web technology community supposedly had a 1600 
person event this year, and I imagine that Java events routinely surpass 
that. On such scales, the organisers can certainly brag a lot more and bring 
in many corporate delegates, but such an agenda for the Python conferences 
would destroy the genuine community aspects of them - the attendance fee 
might not be the biggest cost at EuroPython now, but these megaconferences 
with a ticket price of 600 EUR or more certainly don't seem compatible with 
EuroPython to me. So, although one can look with envy at PyCon's 580 person 
level of attendance, I think it's actually something to be worried about as 
an organiser.

One thing that was said quite a bit in conversations is that Vilnius is a 
really nice venue - something which might not have been fully appreciated by 
those putting together their conference travel plans earlier in the year, but 
which is surely communicated by the many photos made available by various 
participants. As has already been mentioned, it would be nice to have people 
license their photos appropriately so that we can show off the venue a bit 
more in the promotional channels for the conference. All these Python people 
who have now been to Vilnius can use their materials help persuade others to 
join them for EuroPython 2008. ;-) In a wider sense of promoting EuroPython 
and related events, perhaps we should consider making better use of 
europython.org to show people what happened in previous conferences in order 
to generate enthusiasm for those which are to come. The message for anyone 
who wants to see a better EuroPython site, even to come up with fancy ideas 
and implementations, is that the time is now to start such work, well before 
the next conference and with enough time to play with to find out what works 
and what doesn't.

On a related topic with some technological content, I'd like to see a longer 
registration period and I'm sure we'd all like more of the menial tasks taken 
care of by the technology. The first point is related to a suspicion that I 
had which was confirmed in conversation after the conference: insiders may be 
very confident that everything is going according to plan and that we all 
might as well book our flights and hotels, but there's nothing more 
reassuring that being able to book your place at the conference well in 
advance, rather than running the risk that after booking travel and 
accommodation, the conference is suddenly full. As for the technology, and 
having been "Indico's reluctant bodyguard", I think that everyone whose 
workload could have been reduced by the technology needs to consider 
improvements and replacements well in advance of next year, too. And since 
ultimately humans are really responsible for the organisation (as Jacob's 
long list of jobs showed), we need to think about who does what and how they 
do it. We must not forget the end-users, either: having recently seen some of 
the verbose output from commercial conference organisers, we need to give 
participants concise information about their conference agenda/experience.

Before the conference, I started a Wiki page about improvements to how 
EuroPython is organised:


I don't recall whether Jacob's list made it to the wider Internet, but the two 
are somewhat complementary. The "Call For Organisers" has really already 
happened, I suppose, but it would be great if through this mailing list and 
via the above page we can get a good idea of how we can make EuroPython and 
related events more attractive and accessible to the community in such a way 
that we have enough time to act on our intentions.

I almost can't wait until next year's conference, but I look forward to 
hearing some opinions about the future of EuroPython now. ;-)


P.S. And if presenters could work their magic with Indico and upload their 
slides, we can make a start on communicating what happened in Vilnius with 
the wider community.

More information about the EuroPython mailing list