PyTN 2019 Meet Our Organizers: Bill Israel

Bill Israel is the chair of PyTN 2019. Get to know him better and his opinions on the conference, Nashville, and more below:

Over the past year, most of my extracurricular activities that haven’t involved my kids has revolved around PyNash (the local Nashville Python meetup group) and PyTN. To say that I’m excited about PyTN, however, would be an understatement.

What’s a way that you think the Python community has grown that you didn’t expect? Where do you think the Python community/ecosystem could develop further?

Since I’ve spent most of my professional career doing web development, I was wholly unprepared for what data science has brought to the community. As a community organizer, I’ve had to lean on other people for help with properly integrating data science content into the PyNash schedule. I’m still unsure of how well we’re doing with that, honestly.

As for improvement, I know that PyNash has a lot of work to do to improve the diversity numbers of its speakers. One of the things I’m really trying to work on this year is meaningfully moving the need on that and getting out to find more diverse speakers for our meetups.

What are some of the learning resources you’d suggest to newcomers to the Python language?

I still think Learn Python the Hard Way is one of the better resources for someone just getting started with programming and in Python. Once you’re more comfortable with the language and are ready for something more advanced, I think Fluent Python is another excellent resource. For someone already familiar with programming concepts who’s interested in Python, I think services like Excercism are wonderful.

How hot do you like your hot chicken, and for how many meals are you going to eat it while you’re here?

I’m a die-hard Hattie B’s fan, and I think their “Hot” strikes the right balance of flavor and heat. For anyone going to Hattie’s while they’re here, though, may I recommend their Hot Chicken Sandwich? It’s amazing and the sleeper hit of their entire menu.

Do you have any advice for getting the most out of a technology conference?

Don’t discount the hallway track. Conferences are as much about the community and networking as they are about the technical talks, so make sure to see some talks, but don’t neglect the social aspect of them.

Have you ever been to Nashville? If so, is there anything you recommend first timers do while they’re here? If not, is there anything you’re excited to see or do while you’re here?

I’ve lived in Nashville for coming up on 10 years so, and had spent plenty of time here before moving here back in 2009. If you’ve never had Nashville Hot Chicken before, and you’re a meat-eating fan of fried chicken, then I think that’s a must-do. If you have kids, the Adventure Science Center is a lot of fun. Cheekwood is beatiful, though winter may not be the best time of year to visit. There’s usually something interesting going on at The Frist if you’re interested in art.

But, like I said earlier, the thing I’m excited to do from February 9-10 is PyTN. If you’re attending PyTN this year, please find me during the conference and introduce yourself!