Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be in charge of a PyData event? Vincent Warmerdam has collected some thoughts and reflections on his experience chairing this year’s PyData Amsterdam conference:

This year I was the chair of PyData Amsterdam and I’d like to share some insights on what that was like. I was on the committee the year before but being the chair feels hugely different. There is more stress because of the extra responsibilities, but I gained an experience and an overview that I simply didn’t have the previous year.

I’ll just list all of my observations. I hope it may be of use to future organisers of similar events as well as a peek into the philosophy of the conference.


PyData Amsterdam 2017 was the second big event for us. We had about 330 attendees. We did not sell out and we did not oversell. It is a healthy number of attendees for a returning event. We wouldn’t want to become any bigger. This is partly because it introduces much more stress on the committee but also because this might make the conference less personal.


For keynotes we did our best to squeeze talks about ethics in. We live in a world where we are making lots of money with data and we felt it appropriate to also let people speak about all the good you could also be doing with it. We are projecting our opinion a bit by doing so. It may very well be that certain attendees prefer to get a lead comitter of tensorflow [such a speaker would probably boost tickets sales too]. This year we consiously decided it would be best to forgo such speakers in favor of those who may inspire others to make the world a bit better.

I was super psyched with the keynote speakers by the way. @Dirk, @Katharine, if you’re ever around know that I still owe you guys infinite beers.


Picking talks is still tricky but once you’re doing the conference a second time you’ll notice that it is easier to get proposals. We still asked people from our own private circles if they wanted to speak. In part we do this because we know these people and trust that they will give great talks but we also do it to boost ticket sales early. A scary truth of organising a conference is that most people typically buy their ticket in the two weeks leading to the event and announcing speakers early is the only boost we can give while the CFP is still in place.

Last year spark was all the hype, this year it was deep learning. We did our best to ensure we had an offering of these technologies but we did our best to also prevent the hype from taking over. My personal belief focus is to get speakers who end up talking about the “joy of python and data”. We had a few great examples…

To continue reading, head over to Vincent’s blog.