[Linux-aus] Proposal: LCA lightning talks be selected in papers selection process

Russell Coker russell at coker.com.au
Mon Jan 28 19:24:01 AEDT 2019

On Sunday, 27 January 2019 5:44:16 PM AEDT Paul Wayper via linux-aus wrote:
> I'd like to propose that the lightning talks be considered in the same
> process as submitting talks for LCA.

Firstly I think the amount of time taken for a talk is a factor in determining 
how much effort is taken to ensure that it's a good talk.  One way of 
considering this is to say that a lightning talk is 10% the length of a 
regular talk so therefore 10% of the effort should go into screening it for 
quality.  But I think that even less than that is appropriate, if you find 
yourself stuck in the middle of the room for a talk that bombs then you have 
wasted 50 minutes of your day, but if it's a lightning talk then wasting 5 
minutes is no big deal.

> My main reason is that it gives people more time to prepare.  I spent a fair
> bit of time outside the conference hours getting my talk ready; if I'd
> known earlier that it would be rejected I could have used that time
> differently.  I appreciate seeing well-planned, well-executed talks at LCA,
> and IMO lightning talks should be no different.

Are you talking about having a lightning talk rejected?  I thought it was just 
first-in best dressed.  If you did miss out after spending time preparing then 
we should consider a change in process, I know you have a history of giving 
great talks in all formats so if you want to get in first then I think that 
would be ok.

Maybe we could have one section of lightning talks allocated prior to the 
conference start and another section under the current system (whoever puts 
their name down first during the conference).  If we get few people 
volunteering for lightning talks in advance then it won't change things.  If 
we get many lightning talks offered in advance then the best thing to do would 
be to allocate more time for it (maybe accept less full talks to make space in 
the program).

> Likewise, I would also like to see genuinely new talks - small snippets of
> things that would be too short to fit in a regular conference or miniconf
> slot (or too padded out if made to fit), but are still interesting.  I
> would rather not see people simply edit down a pre-canned 50 minute talk
> into a five minute blur of slides and gabbling.  It seems to me that giving
> people more time to prepare makes lightning talks more useful and
> informative.

The lightning talk schedule allows different things and I think we should relax 
some of the normal conventions.  For example Paul Fenwick's lightning talk 
version of his talk about depression was a work of art, people who didn't see 
his full talk would still have learned something and it could be regarded as a 
"trailer" for the full talk.

> The selection committee can be different.  The timing of lightning talk
> acceptance could be later.  The aims or criteria for talk acceptance could
> even be different.  Lightning talk speakers would not have to be treated as
> 'regular' speakers.  But I don't think having a process which sits outside
> the regular LCA talk acceptance process and requires a great rush of
> preparation does not give us the best quality lightning talks we could
> have.

One of the commonly accepted aims of lightning talks is as an introduction to 
new speakers.  Maybe seeing experienced speakers giving rushed talks with 
little preparation will make new speakers feel more confident about joining in.

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