On Tue, Nov 27, 2012 at 6:30 PM, Cynthia Ng <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I'm really glad to see this discussion continuing. It seems like
> there's a good amount of support for at least giving a certain amount
> of sessions over for the program committee to decide.
Frankly, I'd favor letting them decide *all* of the sessions, the logic
being that the only reason for a program committee to exist in first place
is to put together a program.
Don't get me wrong. I like approval voting. I like the idea of putting on
what people want. But that's not the same as putting on what people ask for.
When you ask a decent sized population what they want, they'll ask for
things they know they want to learn and people they want to hear from.
What's wrong with that? For starters, it encourages intellectual
inbreeding. Problems, technologies, etc, that affect more people are
favored while things with a more select appeal get deemphasized. But IMO,
the reason to go to c4l is not to learn about X or Y, but to expose
yourself to people and things that were totally off your radar.
Secondly, the program should be a coherent whole, not a collection of
parts. People choose sessions individually without any knowledge of what
else will be on the program. Balance can only be achieved by accident or if
someone is making it happen (i.e. the program committee). People shouldn't
just be submitting things -- the committee should identify talented
individuals who aren't already known and actively recruit them. They should
directly suggest topics to people who know something but have trouble
recognizing how much their ideas would benefit the community. By taking a
much more active role in recruiting presentations, the program committee
can mitigate the self selection issue as well as tackle the diversity issue
head on. It's not like the process wouldn't still be community driven since
anyone can be on the program committee.
As far as the 15% target goes, I think that's a decent goal but would hope
it would be much higher in practice. This conference is all about
participation and sharing. At the first c4l, 100% of the sessions were by
first time attendees. I seem to remember that the vast majority of the
people attending were on the stage at some time. Besides, a lot of people
do their best work early in their careers.
And to all the people reading this who feel shy/intimidated about jumping
in, you're too respectful of the status quo. There are a lot of dedicated
people who really know what they're doing. But you should never be afraid
to call things as you see them. If everyone in a group you like thinks one
thing, and you think another, that doesn't make you wrong -- to believe
otherwise is a substitute for thinking. Creative spark rather than
technical skill is what moves us forward and many of the people who appear
very established were regarded as yahoos not that long ago.
To summarize, I favor having the program committee decide the whole program
and think their process should be informed by voting and goals of the