The PyCon attendee's Guide to the Hallway Track

written by Eric J. Ma on 2016-06-03

This year at PyCon 2016, totally inspired by DB, I did the "hallway track".

What's the hallway track, you say? Basically, it means spending the majority of my time in the hallways of the conference, and doing the following:

  1. Taking time to do your own thing: I rebuilt my personal website on a cheaper host and with a static site generator.
  2. Talking with other people and connecting with them. I learned a ton about what other people do.
  3. Catching up with familiar faces and strengthening acquaintance connections. I caught up with Travis (Continuum Analytics CEO) and his team (Christine & Matt), Allen (whom I helped TA his tutorial), Giles (who helped me kickstart half my thesis) and en zyme (the professor who continues to connect me with interesting people).

I did an extreme thing, which was that I missed every single talk, including the keynotes, and didn't go for anything. In retrospect, I wouldn't recommend doing that, for the following reasons:

  1. As a 3rd year PyCon attendee, it still makes sense to have heard a few talks so that there's a common topic to talk about with newcomer attendees. A few times I was caught off guard not knowing what else to talk about.
  2. For newcomers, I'd still recommend listening in on the talks. They're immensely educational! Like Ned Batchelder, I have come to believe that everybody has a talk inside of them as well; listening in on how other speakers did their thing can give you inspiration to talk about how you did your thing.

Having attended a number of conferences over the years, PyCon remains my favourite community conference, with SciPy a very, very close second. The difference is just that I learn a broader range of useful things at PyCon than at SciPy; otherwise, the people are amazing in both conferences. Hope to be in PDX again at PyCon 2017!