During this past week I have been attending DjangoCon, which took place in Berlin thanks to the German Django Association, a non-profit organization founded by german djangonauts. Interesting talks about Django, WSGI, NoSQL, testing, CouchDB, MongoDB, South or front-end design, to name a few. And in the evening or night, geeks gathered in Berlin pubs for beers and fun.
I found a relief in meeting so many other people using Django, we djangonauts are a sort of lonely rangers here in Spain. The community is expanding, at the same pace that Django project is growing. In fact, it has already become a grown up in the open source ecosystem, and I think this fact is one of the main reasons that brought Jacob Kaplan-Moss give the first talk in the opening day about how we, Django users/developers/commiters, have to behave with the project itself and to the eyes of the others.
The pony, a silly mascot that can be embarrassing to somebody (picture a girl asking her parents to buy her a pony, or a gay decorating his bedroom with stuffed animals, and you won't find the scene much related to guys with beards, pirates, ninjas or geeks hacking python) is precisely the kind of animal that defines us as a silly community. After all, the Python language was named after a british comedy group from the seventies.
So, if we want to survive our own ego, we must remember ourselves we are sporting a pony in our flagship before we start arguing with ourselves about anything, criticize other people's projects (i.e. Ruby on Rails) or yell capslock rubbish in a forum.
I understand Jacob's concerns while watching his own creature go beyond the local scope out into the wilderness of crowds of djangonauts wanting to have their voices be heard and take more control at the reigns of the carriage horses. Or letting the project aging and fall out of the group of trendy apps with enthusiastic people developing cool stuff with them.
One of the calls to action he claims is to involve the Django developers more into the Python development. Ideally, a Django developer should feel himself like a Python developer using only a framework of his choice. But many of us don't use to go for a walk into Python fields, and try to stay always in the realms of Django. This is a big miss, because we could both learn and help each other, and gain a lot more than ignoring each other. Besides, both communities would gain contributers and, thus, grow up.
I am not so sure, anyway, about the need to grow up. If the fear is to become a mature project, or even an elder of the open source community, then maybe we should stay away of getting so much attention. Simplicity is the rule, and the more people involved, the more opinions and points of view. Which is neither a bad symptom nor something trivial. You just have to deal with more arguments, possibilities, cases. Also, it might be the time when the project becomes numb, and then it will be so big that nobody will be able to move it further or change a single feature because of side effects, backwards incompatibilities, etc.
For the rest of conferences and lightning talks, everyone found their cup of tea. Personally I think some of them were difficult to follow if you were not familiar with the topic (it happened to me with NoSQL related talks, for example) but it is otherwise a good exercise to listen and see what is all about. After all, we are, if not living in the same flat, neighbors. Some of us are developing websites, some others are database architects who are integrating Django in their jobs, some others sysadmins that deploy Django powered applications. But everyone of us need to follow some common patterns that act like glue, so it is always helpful to know your neighbors and their business.