[cross-posted from Thomas LaRock's blog at thomaslarock.com]

While sitting at the WIT lunch during the PASS 2010 Summit it was mentioned that the percentage of woman MVPs overall was less than the percentage of WIT in general. With my thinking cap engaged I had a crazy idea: why not do the next 24 Hours of PASS and feature only women speakers, and do it in March ( which also happens to be women’s history month). I turned to the person sitting next to me on my right and asked a simple question: “Do you think I should do this?” That person was Jen McCown (blog | @midnightdba) who said “yes”, then paused to reflect, and then said “HELL, yes”.

I then went about engaging various members of the SQL Community to get some feedback on the idea. After about two weeks we had an outline for the next 24 HoP event and there was much rejoicing. But we have some other work to do first.

The current 24HoP structure doesn’t work anymore, it just isn’t transparent enough. Even as I put together the last event I knew that changes needed to be made. So here is what I would like to see done.

The call for abstracts has gone out already. (If you have an abstract in mind or have suggestions for specific speakers or topics, send us an email at 24hours@sqlpass.org. Deadline for abstract submission (max 250 words with a 125 word bio) is January 14.) That part was easy. The next part is not as easy: how do we get the Community involved in selecting the sessions and speakers?

Right now the 24 HoP Committee is actively working on how to implement this change. My current idea is to use UserVoice and have voting open for about a week after the deadline for abstracts is complete. What I would like to do is find a way to have people vote once for a list of speakers (with no mention of abstracts) and also for a list of abstracts (without knowing which speaker submitted the abstract). I feel that by doing so we would have an idea of not only who the Community wants to see speak, but what they want to hear. We would tally the two lists and come up with 28 speakers (24 and 4 alternates).

I will be the first to admit that I have no idea if this is the best way to get the Community Choice done, but it is the only idea we have on the table right now. And it is also the reason I am writing this blog post: if you have suggestions, please send them along. Drop us a note at 24hours@sqlpass.org and tell us your suggestion. The 24 HoP Committee will be spending the next four weeks trying to find a way to let the Community decide the sessions for the next 24 HoP and we don’t pretend to think we have all the right answers.