The SXSWi Panelpicker and the opportunity for Toronto to prove community works

Anyone in the Toronto digital/social media scene likely noticed that Monday was the official opening to voting for the South by Southwest Interactive Festival’s annual “Panelpicker”.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, SXSW (an annual music, film and interactive conference in Austin, Texas) opened up the opportunity to present at their event to the world.  After thousands of submissions were administered, they’ve now launched the Panelpicker, essentially a Digg-like crowdsourcing application where the organizers are the only ones who can see the results.  While the Panelpicker is only worth 30% of the decision to bring a panel into the conference, it still has some definite impact.

And impact is what I’m concerning myself with.

(Some) power to the people

(Some) power to the people

Of course, I’m very excited about my own panel, “Putting a Fork in the 30 Second Spot” which deals with the emerging world of branded entertainment.  I’m happy to be moderating a panel with both visionary branded entertainment mind, Gennefer Snowfield of Space Truffles Entertainment and renowned web series producer and creator of Gemini Division with Roasrio Dawson, Brent Friedman of Electric Farm Entertainment – shameless plug I know.  But why not be shameless?  I’m very passionate about this topic and feel we have a great panel, and so do dozens of others from our local community who need our support and shameless promotion to succeed!

To that end, Kevin Richard, an intrepid member of our local community compiled a list of all of the panels he could find that include someone from our Toronto community.  The list, which is at 25 at the time of this post, was later duplicated on Say Yeah’s Toronto Community Calendar.  Both of these lists provide an excellent resource to see who’s doing what in our community, but more than that, they provide an opportunity.

Canadians, and Torontonians by extension, have long been thought to have some kind of an inferiority complex when it comes to our neighbours to the south.  I dislike this intensely.  The reality is that, while we come from a smaller nation, that shouldn’t inhibit the size and scope of our ideas.  This is something that will be on display prominently with each talented member of our community that presents at SXSW.  The only hitch is, we need to be accepted first. We need the opportunity to step out from behind that supposed inferiority.

This is where our community comes in.

In spite of a list of 25 panels and counting, there really is very little overlap between the topics we’re hoping to speak about.  What we’re seeing here is a collection of talented people, each hoping to advance themselves in their own particular area of niche interest. The common thread? (With apologies to Molson) We Are Canadian.  This is a phenomenal opportunity for each of us to band together and support every niche player in our community.  By extension, our collective strength will only serve to elevate the profile of our city and our country as a whole.  I know from many hours spent with members of our community that the talent here rivals that which can be found anywhere in the world.  So let’s band together as entrepreneurs and as members of this geographic community and elevate one another.  In the end, it only benefits as all as a group.

So how do we do this?

Quite simply:

1. Block off five minutes in your calendar at the start of every work day (come on, you screw around on twitter for more time than that on twitter or facebook and we all know it).

2. Head to SXSW’s Panelpicker and create an account (they’ve promised no spam)

3. EACH DAY, in your five minute block, log into Kev’s post (bookmark it people!) and click through to EACH panel and cast a vote.

That’s it!  We spend so much time speaking about the power of community in this digital age, let’s take this opportunity to band together and prove that community works.  This way, when everyone returns from Austin next March, they’ll know that Toronto is a place to be recognized.  They’ll see our vision.  They’ll see our passion.  And they’ll know that we’re united.  And I think that’s pretty powerful.  Hope you agree.

Voting is as easy as 1,2,3!

Voting is as easy as 1,2,3!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to vote!  Let’s make this happen people!

So what do you think about the Canadian inferiority complex?  Is it a myth?  Is it justified?  Can we overcome it by banding together?  Let me know – and don’t forget to vote!

  • Saul Colt

    This is a great idea!

  • RefreshEvents

    I second Saul's comments, and I'd like to add a few thoughts of my own.

    Toronto is an incredible city, and I thank my lucky stars every day that I am part of this space. Personally, I don't believe we have an inferiority complex at all. We Canadians are incredibly talented and have alot to offer, alot more that most people think. After all, wasn't it a Canadian who invented insulin?

    As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” If we can band together, and I know that we can, we too can change the world.

  • Andrew Lane

    Appreciate the comments guys – I hope, as leaders in our community, you can both help to push this initiative. I’d love to see 25 panels from Toronto in Austin next spring!