One weird trick to having a great PyCon

Next week will be my eighth PyCon, and people have been asking me "but how will do you do it?" I discovered this one weird trick, and it's called "keeping your head up"

If you've ever been on stage at a conference, you know that a high percentage of attendees have Macbooks because the little glowing Apple logo dots the audience. If a power loss should occur, the glowing Apple logos are your navigational north star to the exits.

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The Macbook at rest

When you're in a talk session, keep your head up. A lot of people come into talk sessions at conferences of all types and think, "wow, I just sat down, I should immediately pull out my laptop and type on it for the next 40 minutes." By not doing that and giving the presenter your attention, you stand a greater chance of learning or enjoying what the speaker is presenting.

Science has proven that when you put the glowing rectangle down and pay attention, it's better not only for you but for everyone else around you, and even for the person on stage. There's 95 amazing talks going on this year, so enjoy them! If you're on-call or have something to immediately take care of, the wifi works as well in the hallways as it does inside the rooms. Remember: all of the talks are recorded and available shortly after the conference.

When you're walking the hallways, keep your head up. Literally, it's easier to walk around when you can see what you're walking into. Plus you never know what you're actually going to walk into, so leave your phone in your pocket for a few minutes here and there. It's fairly easy to walk into a conversation with Guido, and then have other people do that, and then you talk to them, and then years later at another conference you start up a conversation group with that person and then Guido joins you. The hallway talks, affectionately dubbed "The Hallway Track" since we organize series of talks into "tracks", are some of the best times of the conference.

A bonus trick I was taught back when Python 2 was cool was to just go sit at a random lunch table. You see your coworkers all the time. If you see someone sitting by themselves, go join 'em. You're in the company of over 2,500 people with a shared interest (probably even more than one!). It's enough of a shared interest that you all flew to Montreal to spend several days doing things around that shared interest.

Talk to people! Ask what they do, tell them what you do. I have never found a more welcoming environment than the one PyCon instills, and lunch is a great way to meet new people, learn new stuff, figure out what projects to sprint on, setup dinner plans, etc. Light breakfast and lunch are provided by the conference, but you'll have to venture out somewhere in the great city of Montreal for the evening and so does everyone else at the table.

Keep your head up. There's so much going on at PyCon that you don't want to miss it all. (Note: Because there is so much going on, you will miss at least some of it)