6 PyCon 2015 community-focused videos to watch

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Real python in the graphic jungle

Photo by Jen Wike Huger, CC BY-SA; Original photo by Torkild Retvedt

PyCon 2015 was held in early April in Montreal, and if you couldn't attend in person, you can attend at your leisure thanks to the great videos event organizers quickly uploaded to the PyCon YouTube channel. Normally I'm not a fan of watching conference videos, but I was disappointed to miss this year's event, and I was impressed by how fast the videos went online, so I checked a few of them out.

The Python community has a reputation for being especially friendly and welcoming to newcomers, and sharing high-quality conference videos is one of many things they do that shows it's a reputation well earned. Check out the diverse list of activities and sessions they had this year for another example, and then browse through their videos to watch talks that interest you.

If you're interested in open source communities, be sure to check out these six PyCon 2015 community-focused talks:

Catherine Bracy, Director of Community Organizing at Code for America, talked about civic coding, starting with the problems with the Healthcare.gov site when it launched. She talks about roles developers have in wider communities outside of open source. In addition to watching her PyCon talk, you might want to check out her TED talk on why good hackers make good citizens.

Shauna Gordon-McKeon is a consultant and contract developer who works with several organizations, including OpenHatch. In her talk on open source for newcomers, she discusses advice she gives students who attend OpenHatch Open Source Comes to Campus activities. She also offers advice for maintainers on how to welcome newcomers, and points to Open edX as having a particularly useful guide for how to contribute to the project.

"I'm giving this talk because I needed to hear it," Kathleen Danielson, Developer Advocate at Mapzen, said before diving into her talk on how to avoid burnout. She says that last year she was feeling burned out and frustrated with her community projects and teammates. In her talk, she discusses why burnout matters, what causes it, how to keep from getting burned out, and how to pull yourself out of a burnout if you're already feeling it.

Sasha Laundy is the founder of Women Who Code, and founding data scientist and engineer at Polynumeral, a data science consultancy. She talked about getting technical help without being scared, and giving technical help without being a jerk accidentally.

Software engineer Kate Heddleston started her talk with the canary in a coal mine analogy, saying, "Women in engineering are the canary in a coal mine for our engineering environments. Normally when the canary is dying, you know the environment is toxic and you should get the hell out. What the tech industry is doing is looking at the canary, wondering why it can't breathe, going, 'Lean in, canary! Lean in!' When one canary dies, we go and get another canary, because getting more canaries is how you fix the problem with canaries in the coal mine, right?" Kate then explains that the problem isn't that there are too few canaries. The problem is that there's too little oxygen in the mine.

Jacob Kaplan-Moss, Django core developer and head of security at Heroku, is a self-described average Python programmer who gave a wonderful keynote calling for more average developers in open source. He starts with a story about ultra-marathons (any races longer than marathon distance) and compares it to writing code. "Do you think writing Python is harder than running a marathon?" he asks. "Then why aren't there half a million people here today?" I loved his talk because he mentions words I often see (and cringe at) in job listings, such as "code ninja" and "rock star developer," and how these terms can turn away potential candidates and community members. As Jacob explains, few people are elite ultra runners, much like few people are exceptional developers, so the idea of putting up with "brilliant asshole" personalities harms communities. "How many developers does a 10x programmer have to drive away before it's a wash?" he asks. I'd say this talk is a must-see for developers, developers-to-be, and the rest of us who work with them.

Rikki Endsley is the Developer Program managing editor at Red Hat, and a former community architect and editor for Opensource.com.

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