Today is opening day for many baseball teams here in the USA. All the players went through spring training to prove to the team management they are the best of the best and will help the team be successful during the year. All the players dream that in October they will be playing for the baseball championship.

In many ways I see parallels with respect to Southwest Fox 2008. Each of the potential speakers have submitted sessions hoping they are selected and make the roster for the conference in Mesa this October.

At Southwest Fox I am both a player and on the management side of things. I don’t enjoy being on either side during the selection process. I believe it is the most difficult part of the entire effort to put the conference together.

As a speaker I try to find topics I am passionate about and topics people will be interested in seeing. I submit them hoping the organizers find them to be sessions that draw attendees to the conference. Then I wait for the decision with fingers crossed hoping I get picked and the session I really want to do are the sessions selected. The wait time seems like forever for most conferences. With Southwest Fox I can at least bribe the other organizers to pick my sessions. {g}

As an organizer I try to select topics I think developers find interesting and inspirational. We need to find a great mix of practical topics people can use when they get back to the office on Monday, as well as futuristic “visionary” topics people can think about as they manage new features and projects and their careers. I am looking for as many topics as possible for people to walk out of the session telling others “this session paid for the entire conference.”

The organizers are both blessed and cursed by the quality and quantity of sessions to pick from. The problem is simple, more great speakers than we have budget for, and more great sessions than we have slots for. The submissions this year are no different, and maybe even triggering more difficult decisions than what we did last year.

The selection process is in the final stages as Tamar, Doug and I have individually reviewed the proposals and made some of our own picks. We then get together for a conference call for the “Battle Royale” (image of the three of us in a wrestling ring comes to mind – but too many sports metaphors for one day) as we negotiate the slots. Truth is, I am very glad there are three of us to make these decisions because the perspectives give us a rounded selection. I guarantee you, we will do our best to pick the right sessions, keep as much of a balance as possible, and try to provide you with as many sessions as we can where you walk out feeling like that one session was worth the entire trip to Mesa.

199 days until we meeting in Mesa!

Rick Schummer

Rick is the lead organizer of Southwest Fox and president of White Light Computing, one of the platinum sponsors of the conference.

1 Comment

Cathy Pountney · March 31, 2008 at 1:35 pm

What I envision is Simon, Randy, and Paula reviewing pictures of singers and duking it out to pick the finalist for American Idol. Some of their “dicussions” can be quite heated! {g}

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