PandoDaily’s Andy White asks if there is abetter way to choose SXSW panels than an online ‘popularity vote:
Take one step to removing the popularity contest out of social and lead by example. By merely stripping the voting and the cronyism out of the process, SXSW could automatically have a scenario that goes a long way to achieving the great and grand leveler that social should always achieve to be. Use the firehose to identify what the greater community is talking about in the here and now, and then apply that knowledge to picking the submitted panel discussions for the next conference. It’s democratic by way of social and leverages the ultimate hive-mind.
With just that one step, you get a dialogue shaped by the community, by their interests, their questions, and the discussions already happening. Technical feasibility aside, any change is a positive step to overcome the realities of the present: An onslaught of noise from the usual suspects in a quest to deliver the same 1,000-mile high talking points and sound bites.
To be fair, he is right, an all-up 100% vote for the panels would be a popularity contest. Which is probably why the voting part only covers about a third of the chosen panels. Another third is determined by the SXSW Advisory Panel, who will look over every panel in their area of expertise, grade each panel, and give a huge amount of guidance and input on the panel quality; and the final third is dealt with by the SXSW team themselves. From the SXSW.com site.
PanelPicker is a great way to gauge the kinds of topics that most interest the SXSW community. Likewise, it has helped bring great new topics into the event. However, we also significantly rely on the expertise of the SXSW Advisory Boards and the SXSW staff to help curate the most relevant programming. Given the extensive role of the Advisory Boards and the staff in this process, the PanelPicker is a modified approach to crowdsourcing. See the “PanelPicker Selection Process” sub-head below.
So if you’re looking at SXSW and thinking it’s the loudest voices, it’s not. It is the more deserving and interesting voices that will take to the stages in March, and every panel is looked at. The team here at SXSW Baby should know, as we’ve helped out the Advisory Process for many years.