Another year of public speaking

Posted by Katie McLaughlin on October 24, 2016

Another year, other summary.

Talk 29, January 2016: Hat Rack, Linux Conf AU

~ time passes ~

Talk 42, October 2016: The Power ⚡️ and Responsibility 😓 of Unicode Adoption ✨, SydPHP

Well, this has been another year. Not as many conferences or talks this year, but according to TripIt, I’ve done 78,000kms and visited 8 countries.

Prior to this year, I’ve only spoken in Australia and New Zealand. That changed when I got accepted to DjangoCon Europe. Budapest was fantastic, and the Django/Python community there was really welcoming.

I also had the opportunity to travel to the US for the first time, and speak at not one but two conferences: PHP[tek] and PyCon US. Getting to go to two different conferences really helped me see how the US speaking scene was cross these communities.

Being a speaker that brings in experience from outside the core community is a honour and a privilege. Given my work in and around the Python ecosystem, I identify more as a Python developer than I did a year ago, but it’s not the only thing that I do. So being able to be invited into the community for their flagship conference is a true honour. And going to PHP[tek].. wow. I was stunned when I heard that I was accepted. It was the first conference I’d been accepted to that paid for speaker accomodation and flights. Eli and Heather were lovely, and I’d love to come back again to another of their events.

I’ve also had a talk that’s never been rejected[0]. That’s been an interesting experience in itself, which I’ve written an entire blog post on. It’s also the first time I’ve been invited to speak at a conference without having to submit a CFP.

On top of speaking internationally, I also have done a bunch of work behind the scenes, organising my own conferences and being on the council for Linux Australia, and doing a bunch of beekeeping as well this year. I’m extremely grateful for the chance to give back to the community in more ways than just speaking.

On top of all of this, I’m going through some major life events, of which I’ve been public about, in so far as I’ve said I am not okay. I have good days and I have bad days, but I’m getting there.

So I’ve had a busy year. I know it’s not over just yet, but given I’m telling my speaker story from October to October, and I don’t have any other speaking engagements until January next year, this is my year.


feels time

Code of Conducts are bloody important. In the last year I’ve been on every side of this. I’ve been a Code of Conduct representative, I’ve had to make a formal report, and I’ve had a report made against me.

The Code is there for a reason. It’s so that people have a framework of what is good and what is not good, and how they can get help if they need it. Being on the conference organiser end of this is hard. You have a document that says what behaviour is OK, and short of levels of abuse that get law enforcement involved, it’s a really delicate process of working how what to do and how to handle the ‘grey’ situations. I’ve been doing a bunch of work behind the scenes to try and make this process easier, but it’s difficult.

That’s why I’m extremely grateful to Ola and Ola for their CoC Handbook, which is an amazing guide as to how you can manage the physical handling of a Code of Conduct.

Guides like this as the next step in our evolution of Codes. It’s no longer OK to just have a page on your conference website that says “Be Excellent To Each Other”. Having a process, and following it, is the current standard that conferences need to have.


Self care is also extremely important. I wrote on this after returning from Europe, and it’s hard to read back on that post now because I know exactly how I was feeling back then, and it’s all flooding back.


I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in the last year. I truely am. Best of all, I’ve spend time with wonderful people, and I hope I get to see them again soon, but if not, they will be in my heart, always.


[0] The “⚡️😓✨” talk has never been rejected. I’ve had to decline one offer (travel), and a talk based on the same sort of content, but with a twist, was rejected from a community well outside my usual haunts.