Over the years the RSA Conference has racked up some (legitimate) criticism that its session selection process was too opaque, started too early for up-to-date content, and didn’t always reflect the community at large.

I am a bit biased because I have been involved with RSAC for a while now, and talk to the organizers year round, but I know they make a concerted effort to deal with these issues. (No, I’m not on any of the selection committees).

For example they can’t really release the names of the track leads since there is a swarm (or is that murder?) of PR and marketing pros who are paid to get their representatives on stage, no matter what. I guarantee you that if those names get out, those individuals will be hammered directly. The early Call For Papers? This is a large event with a ton of tracks and a selection process. Hold the CFP too close to the event and it opens yet more cans of messes. Community representation? Funny you ask!

This year RSAC has dedicated an entire track to crowdsourced submissions. The goal is to directly address all the criticism above:

  1. Submissions are open until March 12, only a month before the conference.
  2. Anyone can submit, but corporate presentations will most definitely be scrutinized.
  3. The community will vote to pick the best sessions. Anyone can vote – not just RSAC attendees!
  4. RSAC attendee votes get weighted more, which should help reduce gaming the system.
  5. The final selections will be by a public panel, based on the top 25 vote receivers. The panel is comprised of known entities, who are used to dealing with PR and marketing techniques.

Yes, I am on the panel. I also feel honored that they approached me early to get ideas and feedback on this concept.

They have put a lot of thought into this (especially Britta Glade, who probably hates me for calling her out). It won’t be perfect but it’s version 1.0. If you always wanted to speak at RSA, but couldn’t get through the process, give it a shot. This is a great chance for new speakers, late-breaking research, and creative sessions.