[fr] Très difficile d'évaluer la qualité d'une proposition de conférence basé sur un résumé textuel (ce que je suis en train de faire à présent pour la conférence BlogTalk 2009 qui aura lieu à Jeju, en Corée du Sud). Il faudrait que les candidats donnent non seulement un descriptif écrit de leur proposition, mais aussi un court extrait vidéo (2-3 minutes), soit d'une conférence qu'ils ont déjà donnée, soit d'un "pitch" pour le sujet qu'ils proposent.
Just a passing thought, as I’m spending some time reviewing submissions for the upcoming BlogTalk 2009 conference in Jeju, South Korea.
Just as my proposal was reviewed (and rejected) last year, I am now on the other side of the fence, looking at proposal abstracts and trying to determine if they would make good presentations for the conference.
BlogTalk is an interesting conference, because it tries to bridge the academic and practitioner worlds. The submission process resulting from that led to some interesting discussions last year (academics are used to submitting papers all over the place and are paid for that, practitioners on the conference circuit are more used to being asked to come and talk) and as a result the process was modified somewhat for this year. Practitioners and academics alike submit a short abstract of their talk/paper/research, and people like me (the programme committee) review them.
What I am realizing, doing this, is that it is very hard to imagine if the proposals will produce good talks. I mean, I can judge if their content is interesting or not. I don’t know the people sending in the proposals, so I keep going from “ah, this could be really good if the speaker is competent” to “ew, if the speaker isn’t good this could be a nightmare”.
Already in my long-gone university days, I had understood that content is only half of the deal. Take great content but a crap speaker, you’ll lose half your audience (and I’m being nice).
In 2007 and 2008, I gave a fair amount of talks all over the place and organized my own conference. All this time on the “conference circuit” and amongst regular speakers led me to view it as something quite close to the entertainment business.
So, setting up a conference that will be successful means finding engaging speakers who will be able to talk about interesting topics. When I organized Going Solo (clearly a very different type of conference than BlogTalk, of course), I picked speakers I was familiar with and that I had already seen “in action”.
Back to screening proposals for conferences — of course, if you want an open process, you’re not going to know all the speakers. But how about asking candidates, alongside the written abstract, for a 2-3 minute video excerpt of them giving a talk, or pitching their proposal?