I Am Happy I Chose The Term Evangelism
There is always lot of discussion around the proper term to use for describing what it is we all do when it comes to getting the word out about our APIs. Some of use use the word evangelism, while others prefer to use advocacy, relations, or being an ambassador or champion. Sometimes it is focused on APIs, but other times it is focused on developers or other aspect of what we are looking to highlight. While there are many “announced” reasons why we evangelize, advocate, and champion, the real honest reason is always that we want to bring attention to our products and services. Sure, in some cases we are interested in educating and supporting developers, but really all of this is about bringing attention to whatever we are peddling—me included.
I didn’t grow up religious—the opposite actually. I never went to a church ceremony until I was an adult. So the term evangelism doesn’t carry a lot of baggage for me. However, I do fully understand that it does for many other people. Even though I didn’t go to church, I did grow up around enough people who were very religious to understand the meaning evangelism can bring to the table. Early on in doing API Evangelism I felt somewhat bad for using this term, and felt like I was bringing a whole lot of unnecessary meaning and baggage to the table as I was trying to “enlighten” folks of the API potential. Now, after a decade of doing this, I’m happy I chose the term evangelism, because I feel it best represents what it is I do in this technology obsessed world we have created for ourselves.
Technology is the new religion for many people. You know what two of the fastest growing areas of APIs are? Blockchain and churches. When you have so many people blindly believing in technology, it begins to look and smell a lot like religion. When you embark on missions as a technology company to convert people to your ideology, it begins to look and smell a lot like religion. When you have people believing that you eventually there will be a higher consciousness to emerge from technology, and that we will be able to “upload” our own consciousness to the Internet—it is a religion. We are evangelists. I’m not in denial of what I do. I am pretty confident that this isn’t advocacy or championing, this is straight up religious evangelism—“the spreading of the Christian Technological gospel by public preaching or personal witness”.
So what now? IDK. Keep evangelizing. There is no stepping away now. We have opened Pandora’s box. Technology is everywhere. My belief is that we keep working to educated the masses about technology, but make sure we are doing it in an ethical way? That word already seems so co-opted and abused, but ok. We keep pushing back on technology providers to be more observable, and respect the human beings that are putting these technology platforms to work. There is no stepping away at this point. I am totally complicit in this hustle, even though I can now see it for what it is. This is one of the reasons I’m glad I’m now branded with the term evangelism, because it perpetually reminds me of what I stand for, what I’ve contributed to, and how much work I have in the future to redeem myself for my sins.