CFP Closed, Talks Chosen

TL;DR

The schedule is live, Travis Goodspeed is our keynote speaker and deciding on a CFP review process is tough and usually results in compromising somewhere, somehow.

CFP Review

Out of all the things we’ve done in preparation of this BSides, I can easily say that there are few things we’ve discussed and debated as much as the CFP. Little surprise, right? The talks and the attendees are the lifeblood of the event, and if we want the latter to come back next year, we’ve got to get the former (talks and speakers) right.

We talked about many ways to approach and run the CFP. We talked to other BSides organizers. We discussed among ourselves. We discussed with friends and family. Ultimately, we ended up leaning heavily on OpenConf to guide us, did the reviews ourselves and relied entirely on the scoring to choose. While I was concerned about the fact that I personally know more than half of the submitters, many people assured me that any unconscious bias on my part will be balanced out by the fact that the other three organizers and reviewers don’t know the same people I do. I found that the opposite held true as well. We had submitters that Roger, Jed and Adam personally know, but I don’t.

In analyzing the results, I found that we were in 100% agreement on many of the submissions – we received a number of very original, high quality talk proposals that we’re all genuinely excited to see! On the other hand, there were some that we were entirely split on – some scored these as a ‘one’ (out of six), while others scored as a ‘five’! I think we had several good talks that didn’t make the cut – we just didn’t receive many low quality ones. We were only unanimous in rejecting a few, and honestly, it wasn’t because the talks were necessarily ‘low quality’, but rather they seemed unclear and rushed. They left us confused or just weren’t very persuasive. I’d always suggest running your idea by a few of your peers before submitting.

CFP Results

We accepted the top fourteen highest-scored talks and had to reject seven. If I were to sum up and categorize the talks we accepted, they’d look like this:

Attack: 5
Defense: 4
Think: 3
Mods: 2 (mods = electronics hacking)

To give you an idea of how competitive the submissions were, a score of 4 our of 6 didn’t make the cut. We thought at one point that we might need to disqualify some outright. We didn’t. We even considered adding a third track, which would have allowed us to accept 100% of the talks (7 in each), but it was a little late in planning and logistics to go looking for a third venue.

Our congratulations go to the accepted speakers, and our condolences to the ones that didn’t make the cut – if we could, we’d have everyone speaking. We’re using Sched.org to manage the talk schedule and all related tasks (author bios, even integrates with EventBrite!), and you can view the schedule now. Also, we’re excited to announce Travis Goodspeed as our keynote speaker!

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