Infrequently Noted

Alex Russell on browsers, standards, and the process of progress.

Some OSCON Proposal Tips

For the last several years I've been lucky to serve on the OSCON program committee. What that means, basically, is that for a couple of weekends a year I sit down with all the talks that have come in through the "call for participation" process for my track (web stuff) and try to sort out good from bad.

Once that's done, we try to identify any holes in the program and fill them to ensure that OSCON really does benefit attendees and that speakers and talks represent the diversity in views and interests of the Open Source world. My personal perspective is that it's the Program Committee's job to zealously guard the quality of the talks since the PC doesn't represent that business side of OSCON, but rather the attendees. I've always been impressed with how hands-off ORA is about this part of the process, ensuring that everyone gets a fair shake (as far as the PC is concerned).

Part of that responsibility is to make sure that when you go you're not marketed to outside of the clearly labeled exhibitor booths. Content is content. Marketing is marketing. They both have a place, but that place is clearly marked and that's one of the ways that we try to keep OSCON good.

As it happens, this weekend is one of those sift-through-hundreds-of-talks weekends for me. The advice I'm about to give is therefore top of mind. Other PC members do things differently and have a different perspective, but generally the list of "do's" and "don'ts" that are listed on the talk submission page are a good guide.

I do regret not having done this after last year's grading, but better late than never. I'll try to link back to this post next year (if I'm still lucky enough to serve on the PC) to give fair warning. Lastly, before I get into it, be assured that these guidelines don't talk about any single proposal. They're from persistent patterns I've seen over the years. Here goes:

In some sense, I hope that the truly bogus corporate-drone-submitted proposals don't get much better. They're easy to spot now, and their horrible quality makes them simple to filter out. Instead, I hope that folks who might otherwise be on the line find this list useful as a way to push them over the threshold.

My personal thanks go out to everyone who reads this blog and submitted talks this year. The quality in the web track is great, and many important topics are represented in the submissions that reflect how important the web is to Open Source (and vice versa).

...and the waiting starts

In Venezuela.

You might want to watch this Frontline episode for background.

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