A few weeks ago, while attending the delightful OggCamp, I was approached by someone asking me to speak at PyConUK. Well ... I'm a PHP developer, but as with most PHP developers, we just like good shiny tech and aren't religious about any particular language. So I instantly said yes and then started to worry what I was letting myself in for!
As it turns out, I need not have worried at all, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing a technical event in a community where I knew virtually nobody. That probably sounds weird but I'm one of the most conspicuous people I know at PHP events, so it's nice sometimes to just enjoy it without having to pretend to be intelligent all the time when people talk to me! Being at a Python conference allowed me to see some new tech, meet some new people, and generally be a consumer at the event (apart from the small matter of a morning keynote, I think the hangovers helped as I got less heckling than the previous day's keynote did).
At the moment, I'm really enjoying having the freedom (visibility?) to get to some new events, in different or wider technical topics than the PHP events that I've had so much fun at, and PyCon was absolutely no exception. Exactly like judging a person on the first impressions they give when you meet them, I judge communities at first glance, which is a massive generalisation and sometimes I'm surprised to find my initial impressions are completely wrong. In general, I have found that web communities are self-conscious, young and trendy; you can tell the designers and developers apart quite easily - the designers are the ones with haircuts. The open source communities are indisputably more inclusive, and I love that about them. I felt very anxious going to OggCamp10 but walking in the door and seeing a few grey heads put me at ease in an instant - as a woman, I find any kind of very homogenous group is usually not a place I want to be!
PyConUK was geeky, but in a respectful, intellectual way, as I think many technical open source communities are, and I genuinely enjoyed being there and being part of it. Over the two days I saw talks on mongodb, on programming education in schools, on model aeroplanes with a spot of 3D printing thrown in, and countless other topics. I joined the masses in popping to the O'Reilly stand and saying "You're not Josette" (sorry Sylvie!).
Thanks very much to everyone for a great event - perhaps by next year I'll be writing enough python to enjoy even more of the talks :)