About seven years ago, I presented the Eve Framework in a very crowded Python room at FOSDEM 2014 in Brussels. If you don’t know about FOSDEM, well, you should check it out. Every year thousands of developers who recognize themselves with the free and open-source movement gather in Brussels from all over the world. And I mean thousands of them. According to Wikipedia, since 2011, the meeting hosts about 4,000 visitors every year. It’s huge, and it’s a one of its kind.
In 2021, FOSDEM was held online. I already mentioned how I miss live events. In that post, I also wrote:
Any conference junkie will tell you that she/he attends for the people first, and only then for the sessions themselves. At these events, the most exciting stuff happens in the corridors, usually during breaks.
At that FOSDEM seven years ago, I experienced one of those corridor moments. It did not really happen in a corridor, however.
I was at the Delirium Cafe one night, with my good friend (and exceptionally skilled Pythonista) Alessandro Molina at my side. Many other conference attendees were there, and we were all having fun doing what nerds do when they gather for a night in the pub. We were sitting at this big round table, me, Alessandro, and three other guys I did not know yet. We all started chatting, enjoying ourselves over a few rounds of tasty Belgian beer. In front of me was sitting this friendly, obviously brilliant (if a little shy) guy from Switzerland. At some point, I don’t remember why, we were talking about PyPy, and getting technical about it. This guy was giving me a rundown on the ins-and-outs of PyPy, and well, I was surprised at how profound his knowledge was. In passing, I said that Alessandro and I knew one guy from the core team, Antonio Cuni. Then I mentioned the original author of the project, Armin Rigo, I think complimenting him on that significant achievement. The guy in front of me nodded and then smiled at me. And then came this weird, jarring moment of silence. That’s when my friend Alessandro nudged me and whispered, “Hey man, that’s Armin Rigo sitting there. Right in front of you.” We all had a good laugh. The next round was on me.
It’s small moments like these that make attending (and presenting at) conferences worth it.
PS. I had all the hints—the brilliant guy from Switzerland who knows PyPy like the back of his hand. Someone wasn’t so smart on that night.