What makes it work for SXSW is that they have a formal organization -- an
incorporated body, in fact -- that gives them the continuity and structure
to do things that can be highly structured or ad hoc, depending on the need
of the situation. They have to be this way because they are freakin' huge.
It is the fact because they are so huge, and have so many presentation
applications, that the organizers have this sort of latitude to pick and
choose among the best candidates.
Code4Lib is more like a collective: no central organization, only a loose
set of guidelines, and, thankfully, a lot of engaged individuals with a
good institutional memory to keep things on track (where the definition of
"on track" itself is fairly mutable). We can be this way because we have
intentionally kept the event small. It works, but it can be rocky.
Would I alter my vote for a presentation due to data that indicated gender,
ethnicity, age, whatever? (Probably not.) Might a presenter be a little
weirded out that these variables were being included as part of the voting
process. (Quite possibly.) Is it even legal to do so? (Dunno.)
I don't think we're big enough that the SXSW approach of having a central
organizational body make some discreet discretionary choices among the
presentation finalists would actually work. In our context, who would that
be anyway? To achieve the gender/ethnicity/age/whatever balance, they
might have to sacrifice quality in the talks. Quota systems don't work when
the pool is small. And given our open voting system, the people being
passed over will not be happy.
To me, the solution is not to winnow at the back end, but encourage
diversity at the front end. I think we, as a group, have tended to do this.
As Bess has said, "our community is clearly doing a lot to move in the
direction of inclusiveness."
On Tue, Nov 27, 2012 at 12:44 PM, danielle plumer <[log in to unmask]>wrote: