Well, this is the fundamental problem, innit?
I have little doubt that a fully curated program would be more
interesting to more attendees than the current system. It would also,
presumably, be more diverse. The problems are:
a) The program committee would need to fairly vet all the proposals,
and recruit presenters to offer subjects that are desired, but aren't
proposed. This would be a non-trivial bit of work.
b) Program committee members would need a good supply of sling and
arrow repellant and an exceedingly thick skin.
On Wed, Nov 28, 2012 at 9:58 AM, Kyle Banerjee <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 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
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