Friday 29 April 2011 by Bradley M. Kuhn
Those of you that follow me on identi.ca already know that I caught a rhinovirus, and was very sick while at the 2011 Linux Collaboration Summit (LCS). Unfortunately, the illness got worse since I “worked through” it while at LCS, and I was too sick to work the entire week afterward (the week of 2011-04-11).
I realized thereafter that, before the conference, I forgot to even mention online that I was speaking and chairing the legal track at LCS. I can't blame that on the illness, since I should have noted it on my blog the week before.
So, just barely, I'm posting ahead of time about my appearances this weekend at LinuxFest Northwest (LFNW). I have been asked to give four (!) talks in two days; and unfortunately three are scheduled almost right in a row in one day (I begged the organizers to fix it so I was giving two each day, but they'd already locked in the schedule, and even though I told them within hours of the schedule going up, they weren't able to change it.)
It's a rather amusing story how I ended up giving four talks. Most of you that go to many conferences (and particularly those that speak at them) know that the hardest part of speaking is preparing a new talk. I learned in graduate school that you must practice talks to keep the quality high, and if a talk is new, I usually try to practice twice. That's a pretty large time investment, not to mention the research that has to go into a talk.
So, what I typically do is have between three and five talks that are “active” on my playlist. I'll keep a talk in rotation for about ten to eighteen months and then discontinue it (unless there's new at least 40% new material that I can cycle into, which I sort of consider more-or-less a new talk).
Often, I'll submit up to four active talks to a given conference. I do this for a couple of reasons. The first and foremost reason is to give choice to the program chairs. If I'm prepared to speak on an array of topics, I'd rather offer up what I can to the chairs so that they can pick the best fit for the track they wish to construct. The second reason is, quite frankly, is for when I really want to go to a conference. My employer only funds my travel if I am speaking at a conference, so sometimes, if I really want to go, I have to increase my odds as much as possible that a talk will be accepted. Multiple submissions usually help in this regard (although I can imagine it may hurt one's chances in some rare cases).
Now, something happened with LFNW that's never happened to me before: the organizers accepted three of my four talk submissions, and wait-listed one of them! I wrote to them immediately telling them I was honored they wanted so many of my talks, and that I was of course happy to give all of them if they really wanted me to. Then, I happened to be working on my talks last weekend when the LFWN organizers were updating the schedule, and suddenly, I reloaded the page and saw they'd added the fourth talk as well!
So, in the next two days, I'm giving four talks at LFNW! Most of them are talks I've given before (or at least, given substantially similar talks), so I am not worried about preparation (although I may have to skip any social events on Saturday night to practice the three-in-row for Sunday). What I'm worried about is that my voice has just recovered in the last few days from that long-lasting illness, and I am a bit afraid it won't hold out through all four. So, if you're at LFNW and notice I'm more quiet than usual in the hallway conversations (I'm not known for my silence, after all ;), it's because I'm saving my voice for my talks!
Anyway, here's the run down of my LFWN talks:
If you're not able to attend LFNW, I'll try to live-dent as much as I can (when I'm not speaking, which will actually be almost half the conference ;). Watch my identi.ca stream for the #lfnw tag. In particular, I'm really looking forward to Tom “spot” Callaway's talk. I really want to understand his reasoning for not signing the Chromium CLA, since, as Fontana suggests, it might illuminate the reasoning why developers might oppose CLAs for permissively licensed projects.
By way of previews of what conferences I'll be at soon (I'll try to blog more fully about them a week before they start), I'll be giving keynotes at both Samba XP and LinuxTag in a few weeks (both about GPL compliance). I'll also be speaking about GPL compliance at OSCON in late July, and I might be on a panel at the Desktop Summit. I hope to see many of you at one of these events.
I should also apologize to the excellent folks who run RMLL (aka the Libre Software Meeting) in France each year. When I came back so ill from LCS and lost that whole week of work because of it, I took a hard look at my 2011 travel schedule and I just had to cut something. I'm sorry it had to be RMLL, but I hope to make it up to them in a future year. (I actually had to do something similar to the LFNW guys in 2010, which I'm about to make up for this weekend!)
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