A year ago I wrote about the myth of the conference curator, starting with the observation that highly paid sports scouts do barely better than chance at picking great players. Last week, Seth Godin wrote this:
“We have no idea in advance who the great contributors are going to be. We know that there’s a huge cohort of people struggling outside the boundaries of the curated, selected few, but we don’t know who they are. That means that the old systems, the ones where just a few people were anointed to be the chosen authors, chosen contributors, chosen musicians–that system left a lot of people out in the cold…The curated business, then, will ultimately fail because it keeps missing this shoulder, this untapped group of talented, eager, hard-working people shut out by their deliberately closed ecosystem…Go ahead and minimize these open systems at your own peril. Point to their negative outliers, inconsistency and errors, sure, but you can only do that if you willfully ignore the real power: some people, some of the time, are going to do amazing and generous work… If we’ll just give them access to tools and get out of their way.“
—Most people, most of the time (the perfect crowd fallacy) by Seth Godin
Appropriate participation techniques are the tools for participants to do amazing and generous work—for others and for themselves—at conferences. Give them permission, access, and support for these tools and get conference curators out of their way.
Process facilitators—yes. Conference curators—no.
Photo attribution: Flickr user elgris