Coming up in March is the next South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive conference. It’s one of the biggest gatherings of new media people (meaning web folk) and it’s held in Texas. The conference time-table is filled with talks. Who gets to talk at SXSW? That gets decided by online vote. While that seems like a neat idea at first, it has attracted criticism for not delivering a quality panel line-up.
Greg Story, over at Airbag, is quite articulate on this matter:
There are six-hundred-and-eighty-three proposal submissions for next year’s South by South West, and once again it’s up the the Internet to filter through all of them and choose which ones are worthy of becoming real events.
How absolutely absurd.
I didn’t like the crowdsourced voting last year and with this astonishing amount of submissions I fail to see how the quality of the SXSW experience is going to improve. I heard a lot of complaints about the lack of quality in many of the panels so I don’t understand why the conference leadership is extending the program.
Source: Cross, Airbag.
Hugh Forrest, one of the organisers commented on the post and explained SXSW’s stance on the matter. I still found myself agreeing with Greg, and commented on possible improvements for the choosing mechanism:
Hugh: Why not extend that idea by having the would-be panelists upload a snippet of their talk. That way you (and us) could rate their speaking abilities (filtering out the monotones) and get an even better idea of the route they’re going to take their talk in.
Of course, it needn’t be limited to audio…SXTube FTW
Source: Myself at Cross, Airbag.
I was happily surprised Hugh then took the time to respond to me by email!
I’ve been following the dialogue on Airbag. Good stuff there — meaning, all dialogue is good dialogue.
Re the suggestion of letting panel proposers add rich media to the Panel Picker, this is a good idea. And, one that we talked about last week.
Reasons we have decided not to do this for this year:
1) Still having some tech issues. So, best to try to work those out with the site as is before adding in new features.
2) Philosophically . . my concern is that the experts (who we most want to speak at SXSW) have the least time to put together a video for the site. So, in some ways, this might be counterproductive to the ultimate goals here.
But . . again . . it’s a really good suggestion and something that we are still kind of mulling about. Thanks for the feedback!
(Published with his permission)
I’m glad you’re enjoying the conversation on Airbag — all attention is good attention, right?
Thanks for getting back to me, I’m flattered that you took the time to respond personally.
As for your arguments, #1 I can sympathise with, but #2, well… If the experts can take the time to prepare a panel and go to a week long conference, I imagine they can put in the extra 20 – 30 mins to say some words into a microphone and upload it to one of the many audio/podcast sites.
The non-experts (who you’re trying to filter out) will probably have more time, and might discover during the process of recording something that they need to get their act together.
Again, thanks for taking the time to mail me,
So what do you, the reader think? Is the choosing mechanism fine? Is it completely broken? Or do the (often lacking) descriptions of panels just need some audio or video to give voters a better idea of what they’re voting for?
(Hat tip to John Gruber who’s link I followed to Airbag in the first place.)