Interview: Deb Nicholson

Free software advocate Deb Nicholson returns to the Southern California Linux Expo for SCALE 11X to give the talk "Software Patents: Who's Behind the Curtain?" on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 11:30 a.m. in room Los Angeles A. Welcoming the change in the weather in Los Angeles in February from her native Boston, Deb is a long-time SCALE attendee and gives the SCALE Team a few minutes in this interview.

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

A: I came to free software by way of the free speech and civil liberties movement so my focus is on the big picture; how do we preserve autonomy in the digital era, who exercises control of our online experiences and how can we make sure that everyone has a voice and an opportunity to participate? I see free software as a tool for empowering people.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk you're giving (unless you want to), can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: I'll be talking about software patent suits and how the current situation is impacting free software and linux in its various forms. It won't be all rainbows and puppies, but I'll definitely cover some of the creative thinking and concrete solutions happening in this area.

Q: Is this your first visit to SCALE? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

A: I think this may actually be my seventh visit to SCALE. SCALE happens to be one of my favorite conferences! It's big but friendly, plus super-organized and responsive to the community. It also doesn't hurt that L.A.'s weather is usually pretty nice compared to Boston in February.

Q: Any advice for folks who are new to SCALE?

A: Don't be afraid to introduce yourself to new people! If there's a topic you want to talk about that isn't being covered yet, set up a BoF or post that you'd like to have dinner with folks who have similar interests. SCALE is all about the people, so make sure you don't skimp on the "hallway track."

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

A: Thanks for having me back again!

[SCALE Team interview by Larry Cafiero]