Yesterday, speaker notifications -- and session rejections -- for Lotusphere 2010 were sent out.  Congratulations to those selected to speak -- we are honored to have you on our stages.  Apologies to those who were not -- thank you for taking the time to submit a proposal.

I was surprised for the second year in a row that social media provided the tools to amplify disappointment coming out of those who were not selected to speak.  Tweets, blog posts, and comments showed that there was a bit of an undertow to the whole thing.  I was especially surprised to see IBMers take their complaints public, but hey, we're all human.  

A very blunt comment left on the Lotusphere blog put some people, including my colleagues on the track management team, a bit on the defensive.  Before the whole process started, I wrote a blog entry that received a fair bit of criticism, where I outlined some of the factors that go into choosing Lotusphere sessions.  It's not just about the 75 words you submit, nor should it be -- there are many dimensions considered, and we've been pretty transparent about what they are.

Andrew Pollack wrote an excellent response this morning, and it's worth quoting:

If you're a complete unknown in terms of the speaking "circuit" then your abstract probably has to be pretty exceptional or your content somehow unique. Is that wrong? When the track managers go through hundreds of submitted ideas and start selecting from similar session descriptions, should they favor one from someone nobody has ever seen present or a very similar topic by someone who has gotten top scores and filled rooms year after year? Speakers get dropped from the schedule too. Speakers who fail to produce high marks don't get asked back. Speakers who fail to meet presentation deadlines, show up late, or cause problems for track managers aren't likely to get asked back. A track manager is swamped during an event like this and needs a stable of speakers that are proven, reliable, and low-maintenance.

This isn't the end of the road, of course.  For the third year, we are hosting Lotusphere Idol!  This is a session where you can audition for a speaking slot at Lotusphere, and have some fun in the process.  We received a few Idol! abstract proposals already, but I will be opening that back up in the coming days for those of you whose sessions were rejected but still want a shot at a Lotusphere stage.  Thing is, though, it means you have to already be coming to Lotusphere.  Which gets to one of the points that Andrew (and others) have made -- Lotusphere is the "big show" in our community and industry.  We want the best and proven talent.  Sometimes that means veterans, sometimes that encourages new voices.  Idol! is a great way to become a new voice.

At any rate, now we get to the serious work of presentation creation, speaker practice runs, and a little magic.  As for me, I have been selected to speak at Lotusphere 2010 -- in a session you will help create.  More about that in my next post.

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