Results tagged “evangelism”

The Internet Is Where The Truth Is

March 15, 2007

The exact thing you are looking for is out there on the Internet, if you just know where to look. So here are some hints.

  • The Wall Street Journal alludes to Google's biggest weakness -- the lack of transparency around the AdWords/AdSense/PageRank market. It works like this: Sites can't predict how they'll rank in search results, but some sites depend on that traffic for their business to grow. To scale up a business requires managing risk and volatility, and having a key factor to growth be largely opaque increases risk greatly, limiting investment and confidence and making it impossible to plan. So sites that aren't can't reach scale without relying on search traffic have a limit on the maximum growth they can achieve in a PageRank-based economy.
  • Todd Levin acerbically points out what's wrong with SXSW. He alludes to many of the reasons I didn't go this year, but I am pretty conflicted about getting easy laughs by tearing down something that other people enjoy. Would be a lot more impressive to get laughs by praising the conference for what it does well.
  • Susan Rogers was getting her PhD to understand "whether the human mind is specialized for music [and] how musical training shapes your auditory memory and cognitive abilities". But I just love her for being Prince's long-suffering engineer during the best and most productive years of his career. I kind of have an affinity for her because her story stuck with me during a much more emo period in my life.

About Hiring Blogging Evangelists

February 16, 2007

I'm surprised how much I'm enjoying the conversation inspired by Marshall Kirkpatrick's TechCrunch post about tech companies hiring well-known bloggers to help get the word out.

I usually try to be pretty disciplined when I respond to things on the web, but surprisingly this time I let myself be a little ill-tempered and slipshod with my reasoning. So, no surprise, there was some great clarifying pushback in the comments and I got a little closer to the source of my frustration. Treating anybody with talent, whether it's a well-known blogger or a star athlete, as if they're merely a micro-celebrity and only good for getting attention, is demeaning. Conversely, thinking that a business is going to benefit merely because they have a blogger on board who's Internet Famous is absurd.

A lot of times, the debate people like to have about these kinds of hirings is about conflict of interest or standards of disclosure. But I think the more important question is whether the blogger and the company that hires him/her are both set up to use blogging as part of building the business, not merely as window dressing.

For example, Jon Udell is a terrifically talented, creative technology blogger. But the traditional mindset for describing his role as a technology evangelism blogger would have him saying only "here's a cool thing you can do with this new Microsoft technology". Fortunately, the breadth of Jon's vision encompasses much more than that, so the blog covers (apparently) whatever he finds interesting.

But what would be ideal to me is to see an integration with Microsoft's product and process. Interesting hacks that Jon creates should visibly become part of their future products, and in a company where platforms like Visual Studio are being aggressively promoted for their community features, why doesn't something like Visual Studio Express have Jon's blog built in? I care as much about the ideas and inspiration that a talented blogger provides as I do about the code-sharing features built into a dev platform.

Update: Robyn Tippins offers a few additional thoughts on this. And I have to confess, there's another recent blog-savvy evangelist hire who I thought was a very interesting choice, I wonder when we'll hear more about that....

Me? In a Classroom?

December 3, 2006

Those who know me well know that I never really loved being in a classroom while I was in school; The whole experience, combined with my own lack of discipline at the time made grade school and high school unpleasant enough that it was inevitable I wouldn't stay in college very long. And I haven't had a chance to revisit that opinion until recently.

classroom

As I mentioned before, though, my job these days is mostly education. I'd visited one or two of Clay Shirky's ITP classes at NYU, and just a few weeks ago spoke to some students at the Haas School at Berkeley. But the most fun I've had recently was in talking to David Silver's class at USF. Now, I have coworkers and family members who go to USF, and I live only a few miles from the campus, but somehow I'd never found the chance to get up there until this past Thursday.

To my delight, the people in the class were as willing to share their thoughts and ideas with me as I was with them. David's writeup captures some of the topics we talked about, but I just wanted to make a note to myself so I can remember how much I enjoyed it. Thanks to everybody in the class not just for spending the time, but for helping remind me just how cool a classroom can be.

What I do for a living

November 29, 2006

One of the most common questions I get from people who know about Six Apart is "What the hell do you actually do there?" These days, that question's easier than ever to answer, but it involves explaining one of the goofiest parts of my job: My title.

Evangelist Boy

You see, these days my business cards describe me as "Chief Evangelist". On the plus side, it's the first time in the history of the company that I've basically only had one job (though I still help out with as much stuff as I can), but on the downside, the title is fucking ridiculous. I hate the word "evangelist" as a description for people who advocate technology not merely because of its religious connotations, but also because it implies a degree of proselytization that I'd like to think I don't participate in. Most of the time, my job is really just simple education.

Unfortunately, there's no better title to describe this kind of work. So, evangelist it is, and the title has stuck. The last time I saw Guy Kawasaki, I made sure to mention that it's his fault I have a title that makes no sense outside of Silicon Valley. Fortunately, it should be a lot more fun the next time I see Guy, which is at the Global Network of Technology Evangelists event next week.

GNoTE is an interesting organization that is just getting started. At its core, it seems to be a group of people who recognize that technology can have a great impact on people's lives, but only if some of us are dedicated to explaining technologies and in helping make them accessible to a wider range of audiences.

If that sounds interesting to you, and you can get to Santa Clara, join us on Monday for GNoTE's inaugural event. (More event details are on Upcoming,) I'm very flattered to be in the company of counterparts from Yahoo, Amazon, Microsoft, and Sun, among others. As a bonus drinking game, you can take a swig every time the word "evangelist" or some variation thereof is mentioned, and walk out of the place blind stinking drunk!

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