Before, I went to PyData Amsterdam, and PyData Madrid, also this year.
After the three conferences, which were very similar, but quite different at the same time, I just wanted to share what I liked, and what in my opinion could be improved. I hope future organizers can find some useful information from my ideas and thought. And that includes my future self, for when I'm an organizer.
I wasn't involved that much in the organization, but my believe is that more should be delegated. I couldn't see it that much in Amsterdam, but organizers of both Madrid and London looked extremely exhausted at the end of the conference. May be I'm too optimistic, but I'd say that more people would like to help. I think a good idea is probably to find volunteers for specific tasks. For example, probably some people would be happy to help in the registration. And organizers would have more time for other things, and to rest.
I think in the three conferences there were amazing hosts (the people who gave the welcome speeches, closing notes...). Vincent and the Italian guy (sorry for not remembering your name if you read this) in Amsterdam,Guillem in Madrid, and Ian and Emlyn in London. I think the whole conference makes a difference having hosts with great humour and communication skills.
I'm not sure if it's just my perception, but I think in London the breaks (breakfast, lunch...) were much shorter. I think London was the conference with a higher number of proposals among the 3, so they tried to accommodate the maximum number of talks, but I personally would prefer to have more time for networking, even if that means few less talks.
Good keynotes in general. Of course no every PyData is lucky enough to have a keynote from Travis Oliphant, or WesMcKinney, but the level was quite good.
There were just a couple of things I couldn't understand (neither the people I talked to about):
- In Madrid, Jaime (a numpy core developer) talk had to be a keynote. Even if there were already too of high level Christine and Francesc, I think people need to know that a talk from Jaime (an amazing one btw), is not the same as the one I did.
- In London, the opposite, I couldn't see why Tetiana talk was a keynote. I won't say that the talk was bad, it was all right, but not at the level of Travis or Andreas for sure, and IMO it had to be a normal talk, and there had to be other talks at the same time as her talk
- Travis Oliphant - KEYNOTE: Scaling Out PyData
- Andreas Freise - KEYNOTE: Laser ranging in a new dimension
- Linda Uruchurtu - Survival Analysis in Python and R
- Or Weizman - A B Testing: Harder than just a color change
- Francesc Alted - New Computer Trends and How This Affects Us
- Jaime Fernández - The Future of NumPy Indexing.
- Ricardo Pio Monti - Modelling a text corpus using Deep Boltzmann Machines
- Vincent Warmerdam - The Duct Tape of Heroes: Bayes Rule
- Dennis Bohle, Ben Teeuwen - Realtime Bayesian A-B testing with Spark Streaming
Comparing the three conferences, I think the food was much better in Amsterdam than in Madrid or London. In Madrid they got special meals for people who requested them (vegetarian, allergies...), I don't know in the other conferences. It's difficult to say if it's better to spend more money in better food, of course people like better food, but also cheaper tickets, and higher contributions to free software projects.
What I could see is that more people decided to go to restaurants in Madrid and London than in Amsterdam. Ok, in Amsterdam there weren't any restaurants around, but I think better food is better for networking. The best is probably to find a good sponsor that pays for nice food, but that looks tricky. So, I think all options are all right.
The whole experince of PyData 2016 it's been amazing. Exhausting (specially the ones I had to take flights to go), but amazing, and really worth.
The organizers have done an amazing job, the local communities, and for what I could see and hear, the ones from NumFOCUS.
Now I have a beautiful laptop full of stickers, and several PyData T-shirts.
There are few minor things that in my opinion could be improved, to make the conference even better:
- More time for networking
- More communication from the organizers (telling all the time what is going on, sign up for lightning talks, unconferences, problems with the wifi, beers planed, community announcements, and even the smaller things)
- More lightning talks
- Labelling as keynotes the talks that really make a difference