RIP Conference Curator

No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.
—Albert Einstein

In 2012 I challenged the concept of the conference curator: someone who somehow curates a conference program, like the curator of an art museum. Seth Godin backed me up a year later. Despite my requests, no one ever supplied a single real-life example of a successful conference curator. People thought it would be great if a conference curator actually existed—which brings to mind how Anglosphere parents talk up the tooth fairy to their kids.

I’ve never found any program committee that predicted more than half of the sessions that conference attendees actually chose when given the choice. (And I’ve been running conferences where the participants get to choose what they want to learn since 1992.)

Do you remember that moment in your life when you realized that the tooth fairy was a fantasy? Perhaps it’s time for you to give up the fantasy of the conference curator too.

I believe in the value of good meeting facilitators and designers who can create appropriate process and an environment to satisfy conference learning, connection, engagement, and action objectives, but I don’t believe in the tooth fairy or the conference curator, nice though it would be if either actually existed.

Let conference attendees choose conference content. That’s what I’ve been doing for a long time, and I can tell you, based on thousands of evaluations, it works very well. The fantasy of the conference curator is dead. Rest In Peace.

Image attribution: Flickr user storm-crypt