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Two Weeks of SXSW Session Selection

The Forrest Four-Cast: September 26, 2016

The process for these meetings is fairly complicated. Earlier in September, staff have selected the top 25% of the 4000+ speaking proposals entered in the PanelPicker — and these are the ideas that will be taken to these retreats. Over the next 10 days, we will be evaluating and re-evaluating public voting, staff voting and Advisory Board voting for these remaining 1000 proposals. It is a discussion-heavy process where we argue and agree (and often argue some more) on which proposals at the best fit for the 2017 event. I’ve never been part of the process when a college or university decides which applicants to admit to their institution — but I imagine what we do in these retreats is somewhat similar.

10 days of evaluating these proposals typically proves to be extremely exhausting. Why? Because the decision-making process is very very difficult. The diligence and the hours and the care that we put into this process means that we make most of the right calls most of the time. But, the subjective nature of these decisions means that errors in judgment do occur. Even apart from last year’s Gamergate debacle, there have been lots of times when we have completely missed the mark on this stuff. That small social media startup that created such a big buzz at the 2012 event? Unbelievably, their session almost didn’t make it through the staff retreat process.

Results of the next two week’s work will be revealed via the SXSW website on Monday, October 17. On that day, we announce the majority of content for next March in Austin. While you are marking your schedule, please don’t forget to denote Friday, October 21 — which is the final day to save $400 on the walkup price for your SXSW 2017 badge. As for other important deadlines, find them listed chronologically here.

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Celebrating creativity at SXSW. Also, reading reading reading, the Boston Red Sox, good food, exercise when possible and sleep sleep sleep.

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