Since the Netscape release in March 1998, I have been inundated with requests to speak at technical conferences, address user groups, and talk to corporate meetings about the Open Source concept. See my calendar of speaking engagements to find out when I might have time free.

What I will do

I'm willing to do all kinds of appearances. Open-source evangelism is my job now. I'll come to your meeting or presentation and donate my time. Yes, that's right, I'll do it for free (the first time, anyway). I accept honoraria, but I don't expect them and don't want to know about them in advance. I'm not doing this for money.

If you are not a local Linux user's group, you can make your request more attractive to me by scheduling a double-header with the local LUG or university.

In general, I like and will prefer proposals that allow me to do two or more events on the same out-of-town trip, so please look at my calendar and be creative. If I'm going to be in a city near you, consider coordinating with my sponsors to arrange a joint itinerary and lower costs for everybody.

(I'm free the first time. But if you're a profit-making entity and you decide you want my time on a regular basis, I'll have to think up a consulting rate.)

I can give talks or workshops on the following subjects:

My standard road show is basically `The Open Source Revolution', with five modules on (a) the bazaar development model, (b) socio-anthropology of hacker customs, (c) open source economics and business models, (d) effective open-source advocacy, (e) a long strange trip report (my life as an accidental revolutionary). I do whichever of these modules the audience tells me it wants in the time available.

I don't use visuals, nor will I require an operating computer nearby for my talks. I prefer to work without a podium and with a hand microphone (cordless if possible, lavalieres have poor sound quality and don't give me volume control). A bare stage is best; I move around and gesture a lot when I talk. Please also have a roving microphone available so the audience can ask questions.

What you need to do

I don't have a regular income, so I can't afford to let these trips cost me money. Also, I hate sweating details and filling out expense forms. So you need to cover my travel and lodging expenses, and I want you to do it so I never have to lay out cash or fill out forms. (Also please bear in mind that I do not have a credit card. This is deliberate; I value my privacy.)

If there's air travel involved, I want my plane fare prepaid and prebooked. If there's a hotel stay needed I want the room tab guaranteed, incidentals and meals and all (no chintzy base-rate-plus-tax-only stuff; I loathe having to argue with the front desk).

Let me emphasize that last, because conference organizers seem to have trouble following through on this. If I am asked for a credit card at checkin time, you have screwed up. Don't screw up, or I won't come back.

If you're a cash-strapped user's group or small startup company, I'm a cheap date — economy class and space on somebody's daybed, or half of an inexpensive hotel room, will do fine.

If you're a big company or a conference that charges admission, I expect you to pony up for business class or first class (so my travel exhaustion will be minimized) and I don't ever want to have to even look at the hotel bill. I don't use booze or have any other expensive tastes I can gratify on the road, so you don't have to worry about a bar tab or anything like that.

If you want me to be in the air for longer than four hours, you have to pay for business or first class no matter who you are. This rule is a function of the battery life of my laptop; the expensive classes have DC power connectors...

(My rules for who gets the cheap options used to be looser until a user's group put me through the special hell that is a twenty-two-hour Philadelphia-to-Melbourne run in economy class. Never again.)

Finally, I've been in way too many situations now where the people who want me to fly in either don't follow through or casually assume I will make my own arrangements and apply for reimbursement afterwards. Too often, this means they don't bother to communicate with me about logistics until very near the event. This sort of behavior adds a a thousand tiny hassles to my travel schedule, and it's already tough when everybody is cooperating well.

Therefore: if you don't know at least a week before your event that I have a confirmed flight booked, you may assume I won't show up. It is your responsibility to to make sure there is a travel plan that that I have agreed to and that any other organizations involved in the trip have been briefed about.

I don't have a secretary, I don't have a staff. There's just me, and seemingly half the population of the planet wants a piece of my time. Please act on the assumption that I have zero time to think about making travel arrangements.

Finally, I've found it saves many hassles if I have a local cellphone number for the people who are delegated to meet me at the airport or other transit terminus. This makes it easier to recover from schedule slips and problems choosing the wrong meeting point.

Special notes for overseas trips

If you're outside the U.S., please try to scare up a cellphone you can lend me during your visit. I've found that it's very helpful to both myself and event organizers when they know they can reach me even if I go off sightseeing.

Also, if you're outside the U.S., please budget a little walking-around money for me in the local currency. It doesn't have to be a lot, just enough for a few taxi fares and a meal or two. This too tends to simplify life for everyone and give me some flexibility in case of miscommunications and schedule slipups.

If your audience does not speak English, be aware that serial translation plays hell with my speaking style and I find it extremely stressful. The problem with it is twofold. One, my speaking style is fluid and discursive; it doesn't take well to being broken up into short serial chunks. Two, my English is idiomatic, allusive, and complex. If you don't hire translators good enough to do simultaneous translation, the audience is going to lose a lot of the content anyway, so serial translation is really false economy.

So when you propose a talk to a non-English-speaking audience, you must tell me what kind of translation you're going to set up — and be aware that serial translation will probably count heavily enough against your proposal to scuttle it unless I have other special reasons for wanting to do your event.

(Sorry about this, but I've learned it's good policy through repeated bad experiences.)

Why these rules exist, and how they may change

I don't make these rules out of a love of luxury. I make them in order to keep my life simple and economize on my time, so I can stay focused on the issues and ideas that make me valuable to you.

These rules will probably change in the future. I'm getting enough requests to travel on these terms that I'm on the road about half the time (and it could easily be full time). At the rate requests are increasing, I will soon have to be far more selective than I have been up to now.

When I change the rules, it will be by requiring a stiff per-diem from for-profit groups and conferences that charge admission. Conditions for small LUGs and universities that are not charging admission for my talks will remain unaffected.

The idea behind the per-diem fee wouldn't be to make money per se but to separate the expensive conferences that attract powerful people from the marginal events where the hacker community would get less leverage from my presence.

A Reminder to Conference Organizers

If I am asked for a credit card at hotel checkin time, you have screwed up. This is the most common error I run into, but at the end of a long plane flight it still makes me rather angry every time. I put myself to considerable trouble to come to your event, without charging for my time; in return, the least you can do is get this detail right. Please make certain the hotel knows you are covering my incidentals.