Skip to main content

Ralsina.Me — Roberto Alsina's website

The Long Post About PyCamp 2012

As I have men­tioned in half a dozen posts al­ready, I spent the last week­end at Py­Camp 2012. But what I have not writ­ten about is what ex­act­ly it was, and why any­one would want to at­tend one, or maybe or­ga­nize one. So that's what this post is about.

Py­Camp was or­ga­nized by PyAr, the Python Ar­genti­na com­mu­ni­ty. PyAr is a very spe­cial bunch of peo­ple, who are com­plete­ly am­a­teur, and do ev­ery­thing for love and fun. Since PyAr is a very spe­cial group of peo­ple, the things PyAr caus­es, in­spires or cre­ates are spe­cial as well.

So, since a few years ago, what hap­pens is some­one finds a place with bunk bed­s, a large room, per­haps some­what iso­lat­ed, that pro­vides meal­s, and is cheap (it's as hard as it sound­s) and rents it for a long week­end. Then ev­ery­one is in­vit­ed to chip in for the rent mon­ey.

This year, 4-­days, all in­clu­sive, cost­ed rough­ly U$S 100. Sure, it's not ex­act­ly lux­u­ry ac­co­mo­da­tion­s, but it does what it has to do, which is give us shel­ter and pro­tect us from wild an­i­mal­s.

Thus, you end up with a few dozen nerds with com­put­er­s, one of them is great at set­ting up wire­less (Joac!), one is the MC (Ale­cu!), one helps around (Fa­cun­do!) one is the li­ai­son with the lo­ca­tion (Pin­don­ga!) and so on, the work is spread around, and we have time and com­pa­ny to hack.

So, on the first morn­ing, ev­ery­one pro­pos­es what he would like to work on. Those pro­pos­als are vot­ed by the pub­lic, and those with more votes are as­signed slots (5 a day), where they will be the main fo­cus of at­ten­tion.

So, what hap­pens if your pro­pos­al is not vot­ed? Well, you ei­ther find a pro­pos­al you like, and join it, or you just do your thing. Be­cause this is not a democ­ra­cy, this is an­ar­chy, the votes are just a way for ev­ery­one to know what peo­ple will be do­ing, and to find places to fit in if you want (BTW, there is a sit­u­a­tion in LeGuin's The Dis­posessed which is so much like this, it's scary).

Af­ter that, you just do what you wan­t. You can put your head­set on, and code, or min­gle and chat, or join a group, or do a bit of ev­ery­thing. Since meals are catered, you don't have to wor­ry about break­s. When the meal is ready, ev­ery­one breaks at the same time and so­cial­izes in com­mu­ni­tary ta­bles.

Does all this sound as strange to you as it does to me? A bunch of grown pro­fes­sion­als act­ing like hip­pies. Well, it feels strange too, but that does­n't mean it does­n't feel great. It even works great. Once you see what the oth­ers are do­ing, things you would­n't ex­pect start look­ing like fun (Cel­ery!?! Jug­ger­naut! An­droid!) and the sheer ex­cite­ment of peo­ple telling you "look, I did this!" is in­fec­tious, and ex­hil­a­rat­ing.

Al­so, RC cars, kinect hack­ing, an­droid hack­ing, elec­tric gui­tar hack­ing, jug­gling, mono­cy­cle lesson­s, a firepit, al­co­hol, cof­fee, mate, boardgames, cardgames, mu­sic, jokes, adrenaline, huge spi­der­s, asado, cold, vim, nin­ja, ping pong, ro­bot space­ship­s, peo­ple you see on­ly twice a year if that, ques­tion­s, not know­ing the an­swer­s, fig­ur­ing things out on the run, get­ting help in that thing you have been stuck for week­s, hav­ing the piece some­one else has been stuck on for week­s, feel­ing like some sort of beard­ed bud­dha and a to­tal ig­no­ra­mus in 5 min­utes...

And at least I, at least this year, had a very pro­duc­tive week­end. I got help from a bunch of peo­ple in things I was daunt­ed by, I felt like an ac­tive pro­gram­mer in­stead of a suit, which is al­ways nice, since I don't own a suit, and had a great time. Laughed a lot. Made a cou­ple new friend­s. Saw a bunch of old ones. Helped a few peo­ple.

So, I would like oth­er peo­ple to have as great a time as I had. Of course com­ing to Ar­genti­na is prob­a­bly not a great idea. It's an ex­pen­sive trip, if you don't speak span­ish you will miss a lot, and if Py­Camp gets too big it may stop be­ing fun at al­l.

But why not do some­thing sim­i­lar? Does­n't have to be about Python, you can do it about mak­ing stuff, about pro­gram­ming in gen­er­al, what­ev­er. Just get a some­what com­fort­able, some­what iso­lat­ed place with a rea­son­able cater­ing and get your 50 near­est geeks there, and have a ton of fun.

You may get some­thing use­ful done, too.

pmourelle / 2012-07-15 16:59:

Wow, la verdad que dan ganas de ir leyendo esta experiencia. Puede que me prenda para el siguiente! Saludos!