PyCon 2015 was in mid-April in Montreal, Canada, and was an amazing conference. One of the best things about PyCon, though, is that almost all of the talks are recorded and released, usually as often as the very next day. While I haven’t been able to go through all of the videos from this year (there are over 100), I’ve watched several of them and I have some I’d love for all of you to watch. In fact, all five of these talks are great even if you aren’t a Python programmer because they’re about things above and beyond any one language.

Carina C. Zona — Schemas for the Real World

Carina’s talk might be my favorite from the entire conference. As programmers, we really like to fit things into neat little boxes. We’re certain that with enough time and research, we can design a perfect, succinct way of holding any data or solving any problem. Sadly, the real world and the humans that live in it don’t always cooperate with this plan. They have to go and be all messy. Carina gives us some great examples of how to deal with messy humans and some even greater examples of what not to do. Ultimately, it all seems to boil down to one word: empathy.

Jacob Kaplan-Moss — Keynote

Jacob’s keynote is all about tearing down idols. We put some programmers up on pedestals, insisting that they’re outstanding or amazing, but, really since talent generally falls on a normal distribution, they’re just OK. It’s OK to be average.

Nina Zakharenko — Technical Debt, the Code Monster in Everyone’s Closet

Slightly more technical than the other talks I’ve listed, Nina’s talk is something that we all have to deal with. Every programmer, no matter how great (or, you know, mediocre if you’ve already watched Jacob’s talk) makes decisions where they trade off future sanity for current fixes. Nina takes us through ways to mitigate these decisions and burn off the debt we’ve raised for ourselves.

Kate Heddleston — How Our Engineering Environments are Killing Diversity

(and How We Can Fix It)

I’ve read some of the blog posts that Kate wrote about these subjects and I’m really happy to see her give a talk about them. Making our engineering environments friendlier so that we have more diversity in them will make our products and teams better (thanks science!). Kate gives us some tools and ideas for this very important area.

Glyph — The Ethical Consequences of Our Collective Activities

Since software has spread around the world, and spreads more and faster every day than it ever did before, Glyph feels that we should have an ethical standard for the choices our software makes. This talk raises more questions than it answers but I feel like it’s a good prompt for some deep thinking about our own creations and our communal work. Also, robot apocalypse.

And more!

Like I said, there are so many videos from PyCon 2015 (and others!) that I couldn’t possibly watch or list every single one of them. And not just talks! PyCon’s tutorials, which you have to pay to take in person, are also available online for free after the event. Here’s a link to the entire list of content. Check it out and let me know if you find any other hidden gems!