Steering Council nomination: Matt Harrison (2021 term)

I nominate Matt Harrison, a respected teacher, author, and consultant.

Matt has deep knowledge of the Python ecosystem outside of the immediate core. I expect that he can help make clear judgments regarding the wider impact of Steering Council decisions.

I have known him for over decade found him to friendly and approachable. He has deep technical knowledge and a willingness to devote significant time to thoroughly understand issues. He has strong moral character and openness.

Matt would contribute greatly to thoughtful, use-centric governance that is inclusive, welcoming, and unifying.

Raymond

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s/use-centric/user-centric/

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I assume you’ve invited Matt to come and introduce himself as well? Looking forward to it :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hi, I’m Matt Harrison. I’ve been nominated for the Python Steering Council by Raymond Hettinger.

You may have heard me on a Python podcast, attended one of my tutorials at PyCon, or on Twitter.

I’m not a core developer. What can I offer to the steering council? One of my favorite movies growing up was Tron. This is a silly movie, not as silly as Monty Python, but it is a movie in which the protagonist is sucked into a computer. They meet Tron, another character who claims he “fights for the user". You can think of me as the “Tron” candidate. I fight for the Python user.

In my professional capacity, I sell snake oil… not literally, but I teach people how to use Python and how to be an effective developer or data scientist by leveraging Python and some of the over 250,000 packages you can leverage on the platform.

I realize I come from a position of privilege, and I hope to give back to the community and ecosystem that has given so much to me. I studied and worked in Silicon Valley for almost 10 years. During that time, I started using Python and haven’t looked back.

That was over 20 years ago. Since then, Python has transitioned from being a secret weapon for startups to being the goto language used across enterprises for many domains. I have worked as a full stack developer doing “data science” from small startups to larger companies during that time. I’ve written many books on Python and data science, spoken and taught at many conferences, and have transitioned into running my own company providing consulting and training around Python and Data Science.

One of the mandates of the steering council is to “Maintain the quality and stability of the Python language and CPython interpreter”.

I have a vested interest in doing this as my professional work revolves around helping others leverage Python professionally.

Another mandate is to “Make contributing as accessible, inclusive, and sustainable as possible.”

I realize that contribution is more than code. I ran the Python User Group in Utah for five years and understand that while code is important, there is a lot of work behind the scenes that goes into community building.

I also have a daughter who is currently studying CS. I want her to be able to enjoy computing communities that are accessible and inclusive, be they inside of Python or otherwise.

I lived in Colombia during the 90’s for a few years, which opened my eyes to the world at large. In the past few years I’ve been able to attend PyCon in Colombia. Endowing individuals with technology and the skills to leverage said technology is one way to empower others. I would want to ensure that the council is not only concerned with professional users located in Silicon Valley, but also practitioners and students from around the world.

My first computer was a Commodore 64. My brother and I would read off Basic code from Compute! magazine. It was eye-opening to create something out of nothing. I want to preserve that magic for others and I think Python is a great tool for that. I’ve worked with my local elementary school to teach students basic Programming and Data Science.

When we learned programming in school, we leveraged tools like Logo. I’ve tried to provide a similar experience for learners by teaching them Python using the turtle module. The students could create triangles and shapes. To make this even more real, I adapted a library for programming a drone and students were able to take their turtle code, change an import, and to fly a drone instead of drawing a line. Watching students grasp concepts by seeing it live was awesome. I want to enable educators to have similar experiences. Supporting educators is essential to the vitality and growth of the language.

I hope you will consider me as a steering council member that will represent the users and the future ==of the Python language.

Thanks Raymond for your nomination, I respect and admire your work.

To the Python Core developers thank you for your consideration.

Matt Harrison (@mharrison)

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Yes, I expect he will post qualifications, reasons for aspiring the steering committee, and share his governance philosophy.

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Ok, I have a question: how do you intend to “represent the users” of Python when there are so many different communities and use cases around Python? Core developers are not shielded from other Python communities (for example, @willingc is also an active member of the Jupyter project, AFAIK): is there anything particular that you would bring in terms of “representation”?

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I’m happy that you are nominated. I respect your work and your commitment to Python and its future. Good luck!

P.S. If you have any questions above Steering Council operations, I wrote a blog post last year and you know how to reach me :sunny:

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What would you like to see happen in 2021 for Python that comes from the SC?

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Great question @pitrou. Hopefully, you recognize that my statement was a little tongue in cheek. I’m a big fan of @willingc and her work. Yes, everyone is a “user”, I’m just not a core developer. And you are correct, the “users” of Python represent a very large group.

Let me attack it from another point. In my professional capacity, I teach hundreds Python and “Data Science” every month. I’m versed in what things are confusing to many potential new users of Python. Many of these people are coming to Python without the intent to have a job as a “programmer”, but rather they want to use Python as a tool to get the job done (ie. a better Excel). As that is a large market that is growing, I believe it is in Python’s interest to understand what is potentially the largest market.

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@brettcannon, I think I could help address @thomaslamentation of lack of communication with the broader community via blogging, social media, video, and podcasts. I’m pretty sure I could arrange a monthly/quarterly appearance on the Python Bytes podcast.

Thomas also hints at lack of communication with broader Python projects. I think better communication could help facilitate that.

Again, I’m not a core developer, but I feel pretty well versed with the language and extremely comfortable with the needs of beginners and professionals who are transitioning to Python at large enterprises.

If any core developer wants to discuss any thoughts or ideas that they would like to see the steering council move towards, I’m all ears. Happy to jump on a call and listen to what your needs and concerns are.

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Matt Harrison is a solid candidate for the next steering council. On the one hand, I’ve known Matt for many years, starting with the Utah Python Users Group and later working closely with him professionally (from 2012 to 2014). In my experience, Raymond’s remarks about Matt are accurate.

At a high level, consider two important characteristics of the steering council: representation and effectiveness. (This applies to each member, but especially to the whole.) I’m confident that, as a core team, we agree on the need for both. However, it can be hard sometimes to recognize the critical value that comes from the steering council having sufficient insight into the variety of people in our community.

So I want to point out that Matt provides a point of view that could diversify the insight the steering council has, in at least four important areas:

  • Python training/education
  • data science
  • running a business that relies heavily on Python
  • as a non-core developer

As far as effectiveness goes, Matt is smart, knows Python (and its community) very well, is a good communicator, is easy to work with, and has repeatedly shown he can follow through in pursuit of objectives.

Consequent to all the above, I support Matt Harrison as a candidate for the steering council.

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Thanks for the kind words @eric.snow.

As is mentioned on @rhettinger’s nomination thread, I would support a two-term limit for SC members.

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