Posts>PyCon US 23 - The importance of human connection

PyCon US 23 - The importance of human connection

Marc Gibbons
Published: May 1, 2023
Skiing at the top of Snowbird, UT on Apr 26, 2023.

As the 2023 PyCon US conference and sprints came to a close, I started to contemplate some non-technical takeaways from this intensive period of learning and meeting colleagues from across the world.

Friday morning's keynote by Ned Batchelder, Sunday afternoon's by Carol Willing, and a play depicting conflict resolution, performed by Sumana Harihareswara and Jacob Kaplan-Moss, particularly resonated – they all spoke to the importance of human interaction and empathy.

On the flight home, I jotted down some takeaways from my time in Utah:

  • Attending a conference like PyCon takes courage. Showing up before a large group of people and making cold introductions is an act of bravery and a display of vulnerability. Over 2,200 people turned up, 1,600 of which were first-timers. Remarkable.
  • We are starved for human connection in this industry, especially those of us working remotely. The pandemic has made this abundantly clear. Loneliness kills and plenty of research demonstrates it. There is no substitute for in-person interaction.
  • Empathy is fundamental to everything. To our relationships and to building good software & code. Empathy is an antidote to conflict, stress, worry — even shame. The key to unlocking it might be curiosity. Authentic & active listening could be the first step.
  • We need more awe in our lives. Witnessing a remarkable human accomplishment can be a source of awe, but the type which can overtake or overwhelm us often comes from nature. For me, standing at the summit of an 11,000ft mountain in Utah was peak awe (pun intended). But we can find it all around us if we look closely.
  • Many of us at PyCon had something in common; a yearning to be part of something bigger than ourselves. A desire to find community, to affect change, and to help others. It's a human need that keeps us grounded and connected. This is likely what drives open source software.
  • Yoga is really hard. But it's great for the body, and the mind. PyActive was a nice touch. Give it a try!

After years of pandemic restrictions and personal health setbacks, attending PyCon 2023 in SLC was a deeply enriching experience. Looking forward to Pittsburgh 2024!