One man's opinions ...

It seemed to me, observing in Rochester, that there was a reasonable percentage of presentations 
that were more about "making your bones in academia" than being relevant to ARSC members. Very 
obtuse subject matter, more appropriate for a doctoral thesis presentation in some cases. In other 
cases, ill preparation sabotaged what might have been interesting material. So you could cut out 
some fat and have longer presentations of substance. Number of presentations is not a good measure 
of anything, in my opinion.

Maybe this would work -- first-timers get 35 minutes max. Let them prove themselves. It's then up to 
the presentation committee to decide if they are worthy of an invitation to present again at a 
future conference. Maybe let them know this going in, so they make it a point to make that a good 35 
minutes because their reputation is on the line with ARSC. Those who have been deemed interesting 
enough to be invited back should be told that there's a standing invitation but the invitation will 
be re-evaluated each time they present. This encourages people to stay on their A game. The 
returning veterans should be given up to 60 minutes, but should have to justify to the committee why 
they need more than 35 minutes. This will allow them to consider carefully if they really do have 60 
minutes of material or if they could condense it to 35 minutes.

20 minute slots should be eliminated unless they are mini-presentations as part of a panel 
discussion (i.e. setting out the parameters of the discussion, or presenting some audio before the 

There should probably be a separate discussion about if these rules would work equally well for 
history/discography and technical topics. The way ARSC is today, there needs to be a heavy technical 
emphasis in the programs, and some technical stuff is a very deep dive and may even take more than 
60 minutes. That said, I thought some of the technical sessions I attended were overly long -- in 
other words a lot of jargon around very little action or accomplishment. Do you really need 35 
minutes to tell everyone how you "assess" a grooved record (i.e. look at it and see how scratched up 
it is)? On the other hand, if you're laying out a complex database/metadata structure -- which is 
likely to be of great interest to others tasked with that job -- you should have the amount of time 
you need to get enough information across to be of use to those in attendance, otherwise it's not 
worth any amount of their time, or yours.

A somewhat simplistic rule of thumb for historical/discographical presentations might be, if it's 
very specific (i.e. one artist's time on one label, one piece of music or one album, one little 
record label, etc), keep it to 35 minutes. If it's something sweeping, like for instance the history 
of jazz in Kansas City, that deserves an hour but make sure the presenter is willing to do the work 
to fill the hour with interesting material.

Another possibility to consider -- if someone is basically re-iterating something published in ARSC 
Journal or some other printed outlet (like a doctoral thesis), perhaps they should be restricted to 
35 minutes. If they are presenting new, interesting (as deemed by the presentations committee) 
material, give them more time because that will encourage them to develop enough material for a good 
ARSC Journal article, hence a virtuous cycle.

Bottom line -- number of presentations is meaningless if short time slots lead to shallow, useless 
presentations. Very few things can be well-explained in 20 minutes. A few things need more than 35 
minutes, but I think taste and discretion need to trump egos and "debt to longtime members." It 
should only go long if it's worth the extra time, possibly at the expense of someone else's 
opportunity to present. Not to be given lightly, but should be given when deserved.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Steve Ramm" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, February 23, 2013 11:03 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] ARSC Conference Program scheduling- Your vote counts

> In a message dated 2/23/2013 6:32:07 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
> [log in to unmask] writes:
> It is  not an easy job putting the
> schedule together, and I sometimes wish the  Prog Chair would ask some of
> us for advice.
> I'll remind ALL on the ARSC list who are paid members - and thus get to
> vote in the upcoming election that the decision is yours. There were be
> candidates for Second Vice President/Program Chair. in the ballots going out
> next month. The winner of that office will be program chair for the 2014 and
> 2015 ARSC conferences. So it's up to you to exercise your vote and decide who
> would make the better Program Chair. It is that person's job to plan and
> schedule and accept (or reject) program papers.  (I will remind you, of
> course, that without concurrent sessions, there will be 40% less papers
> presented. (and it they are 60 vs 35 minutes in length, there will be 65% less
> papers than there were in 2012.
> Steve