Archive | December 27, 2010

Why I’m All For 24HOP Showcasing 24 Women Speakers

This is not the HOP you are looking for.

I’ve been thinking about the upcoming 24HOP event planned for March 15 and 16 which will showcase 24 women speakers. Karen Lopez (post | twitter), Jenn Stirrup (post | twitter), and Jen McCown (post | twitter) have all written posts about it. Kalen Delaney ( blog|twitter) has left some comments with her views, which I’ve also appreciated.

If you’re not sure what 24HOP is, prepare yourself for an acronym within an acronym: 24HOP = 24 Hours of PASS. PASS= the Professional Association for SQL Server. This is an online event featuring 24 one-hour sessions on all sorts of nerdy relational database topics.

This will be the fourth 24HOP event, I believe– there have been two general-topic English speaking events, and one Spanish and Portuguese language 24HOP event (LATAM HOP).

Some people think it’s a bad idea to have a woman-only 24HOP. And there are some thoughtful comments on why that might be the case.

However, I think it’s a very smart idea.

Think about this from the perspective of an editor who is putting together a collection of great fiction. You have a lot of choices when it comes to your book– you can choose items by theme, by time period, by genre, or by some factor of the author– their culture, their gender, their age.

A way to make a collection compelling is by a subtle thread. You want a variety of topics, and you want things in your collection to be different and interesting. There are many good types of way to build a collection, and one of those ways is by gender.

So if you’re a person who’s put on a few 24HOP events, do you want to put on something that’s very much like the one you did before? With maybe a little bit of new feature content?

Wouldn’t it be way more exciting, and a bit risky, to come up with a challenging idea that creates an interesting and different collection of speakers? It might spur your crowd of presenters to be creative and invested in the event more than a more general speaking engagement.

Well, I think so, at least. Regardless of the gender issue itself, I think this is a smart theme to build new content for the community.

High five, Tom LaRock.

Do I Want to Present?

I do!

I submitted a session. The title is “No More Bad Dates: Using Temporal Data Wisely”

(I am actually really excited about the topic. Yeah, dates and times— all sorts of weird fun to be had.)

Would I have Submitted a Session if it Wasn’t Women-Only?

Nope.

Here’s why: SQL Rally is coming up, and I’ve submitted two sessions for that.  SQL Rally and 24HOP are going to both do selections by popular vote.

And popularity contests are, frankly, terrifying. I almost didn’t submit to Rally altogether because of the risks of being voted Least Likely to Present.  But I talked myself into submitting two sessions because I really love presenting, and I know the SQL community down in Florida is super passionate and interesting.

So if this was a general-topic 24HOP, but with sessions now being selected by public vote, I would not have submitted. I’m concerned that by being up for votes on two bills, I’ll hurt my chances on whichever is voted on second, even though I’ve submitted different abstracts. (People may feel like they voted for me before, so they want to give their vote for someone else on the other to be more fair.) Plus, it’s frankly twice the anxiety. Did I mention that popularity contests are terrifying?

But I do think this 24HOP idea is exciting and a little risky, and I would like to do what I can to try to make it great, if only by submitting. So I decided to submit a session, also.

24Hop: Hat Edition

Even if I’m not selected, I want to see how this 24HOP turns out. Maybe it’ll be remarkably like the ones that came before. Maybe there’ll be just something a little different that you can’t put your finger on. Maybe it’ll be really unique.

So, Should We Have 24 HOP Showcasing 24 Men Speakers?

Well, I actually thought that would be a good idea. Until I realized that we’ve already had 24HOP featuring 23 men speakers. I think that means the theme wouldn’t generate much but confusion. It would be all sorts of “So… what are we supposed to be doing?”

But there are other things to group by. New speakers. New presentations only. Mythbusters 24HOP. Present about your favorite feature. Maybe it’s the whole event, maybe each day has a different theme, but I like the idea of a focus. You could do a 24HOP like those playwriting events where a whole production is created in 24 hours.

However this goes, I hope we continue to have experimentation with 24HOP. I’d really like for it to continue on in an exciting direction where it doesn’t quite do what you expect– otherwise I think it’ll get to be SQL PASS Express Edition, with Auto Close enabled.

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