Crowdsourced Submissions at RSA Conference is Open!

Posted on by Fahmida Y. Rashid

You can now submit your talk for Crowdsourced Submissions at RSA Conference! This is your chance to see if the idea you’ve been working on can be part of the RSA Conference program in April.Crowdsourced Sessions RSAC

RSA Conference introduced Crowdsourced Submissions as a new session type for this year's conference. There are a ton of great ideas and insights out there—the quality and quantity of submissions for the traditional tracks was at an all-time high for the 2015 conference. This is a way to share your ideas at RSA Conference—but you have to first convince your audience they want to hear from you.

Detailed information and an FAQ are available on the website, but here is the quick timeline: The submission window opened today and will run all the way to Feb. 27. Public voting will begin March 12. The judges will winnow down the top 25 submissions—the ones with the most votes—to 12 sessions just before the conference starts April 20.

The judges will be making sure the submissions follow the guidelines, aren’t sales pitches, and to filter out any ‘ballot stuffing’ which might happen,” wrote Jack Daniel, a member of the judging panel.

The crowdsourcing track is an opportunity for talks that can’t make it through the normal call-for-speakers session. Perhaps the proposed talk references an event that happened after the call for speakers closed, the topic overlapped too closerly with other submissions, or a myriad of other reasons. The last-minute nature of the selection process means these sessions will be timely and topical.

“This track is all about innovation, quality, and risk; there isn't any other theme,” says Rich Mogull, CEO and analyst at Securosis and one of the judges monitoring the process.

It's a frequent complaint that the time between the call for speakers and the conference is too long and topics get stale. That won't be a problem with this track. “The key thing I’m excited about is freshness. Crowdsourcing is a great way to capture topics that would otherwise happen in hallways and over a beer, but not in the formal tracks,” says Eve Maler, another member of the judging panel and vice-president of innovation and emerging technology at ForgeRock.

Get those submissions ready, but remember that you have to make it engaging. Crowdsourcing tracks are supposed to be highly interactive, with speakers involving the audience in a 50-minute conversation with ideas, questions, and feedback. “Panels are out unless they look exceptional, because I've seen very few panels come close to the quality of a real, scripted session," Mogull says. 

Skip the vendor pitches—the crowdsourcing track is not the place for them. “I've been an analyst for a long time and I'm really good at seeing past the games some organizations play,” warns Mogull.

And in case anyone is concerned this is just a popularity contest for the well-known voices in the industry, Mogull has some reassuring words: “If you have a good rep, the odds are against you, since personally I'd like to see new things.” 

Finally, don't waste time trying to sway the judges in your favor. “I only get to help pick out of the finalists from community voting, so who knows where we will end up,” Mogull says. “I think it's going to start messy, and end wonderfully. Even the failures will be compelling. Look, there's no chance we will end up with 12 of the best sessions you've ever seen, but we will certainly end up with some great ones, and I hope even the poorer ones are more a raw expression of our profession and community than a waste of a slot.”

Fahmida Y. Rashid

Information Security Journalist, Editor-in-Chief, RSA Conference

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