Interview: Nathan Betzen

Nathan Betzen has been working with the XBMC community in one form or another since 2008, and currently he serves as the XBMC Community Manager  Nathan's presentation, "Growing an Online User Community: A Review of the XBMC Method," will be given on Friday, Feb. 22, at 11:30 a.m. in room Los Angeles C. The SCALE Team had a chance to ask Nathan about his presentation.

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

A: My name is Nathan. My introduction to the world of open source happened the day I convinced a dude that I didn't really know to come to my house and help me mod an old Xbox 1. I bribed him with a new roll of solder. I think everyone in open source has one passion that really draws them in. I just happening to be the guy in the room who managed to be passionate about watching movies on my free software. 

Anyway, XBMC sucked me in many years ago and never really let me go. Beyond occasionally messing with markup language, I tend to avoid code, so instead I found myself helping on the words end, doing forum support, writing about new features, evangelizing on new platforms, etc. And here I am today!

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: If I had to lay down a guess, I'd think you can expect a lot of sweating and awkward pauses during my talk. But assuming we can get past those, I'm going to talk about how to handle various social networking platforms during various stages of software production based on past experience. And I'm probably going to tip my hand about numerous other secrets too! That's right, I'm going to let slip the answer to the long asked question, "When will XBMC finally get onto the PlayStation 2? Have you heard about its incredible Emotion Engine?"

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've been to SCALE two times now. I live in Wichita, Kansas, which is not known as a land of geeks. So in a lot of ways, visiting SCALE is sort of like coming home, or, if you want a differently corny simile, like returning to the mothership. For the first-timers out there, it's likely going to be pretty disorienting to discover yourself entirely surrounded by people who love the same things that you love. And more than that, it's odd talking to people about open source and discovering that they know more about it than yourself! In my case, SIGNIFICANTLY more about it than myself!
Q: Are you a snake oil salesman?

A: I asked myself this question because I wanted to highlight the value and highly restorative properties of snake oil to all you fine folk!

But if we're talking the metaphorical snake oil, then nope. People who work in social media are a lot like General Managers in baseball. If you've got an amazing line-up, you're going to look like a genius manager. If not, then you are an idiot. The best thing you can do is to try to avoid getting in the way of what you've got. I'm going to try to give you an overview of how to do that. No miracles promised.

No miracles, that is, unless you're interested in the contents of this amazing bottle!

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
A: If you get a chance, come visit me and my buddies at the XBMC booth on Saturday and Sunday. We're sure to have some really awesome things to show off!
[SCALE Team interview by Hannah Anderson]