I’m a zealot about certain technologies and more than once I’ve had people accuse me of being an evangelist. I’m not entirely sure what they mean, however, and am wondering if you can help me out? I mean, are there people who are paid to pimp products or services? That’d be cooool…
You bet there are people who are paid to promote the products or services of large companies! The first technology evangelist I remember bumping into was Guy Kawasaki, whose title actually was “Evangelist” at Apple Computer. Now Guy’s moved on to consulting and blogging: Let The Good Times Roll.
While I’m sure it’s not his title, I view Robert Scoble of Microsoft as an evangelist for his company too, though he’s savvy enough to talk about the pros and cons of the company’s product line, rather than just be a pitchman for Microsoft. Check out what he’s doing at his popular blog Scobleizer and at Microsoft’s Channel 9 project.
Amazon.com also has an evangelist, Jeff Barr, and Jeff actually just wrote a long and thoughtful piece about his view of technology evangelism on his weblog too. I offer up some excerpts, with permission:
“I was the first Web Services Evangelist at Amazon and I’ve been doing the job for almost 3 years. I came to Amazon in the fall of 2002 and my official position was Senior Developer on the Amazon Associates team. There was an understanding that I would spend some small fraction of my time, perhaps 5 to 10%, helping out the then-new web services effort. That small fraction grew pretty quickly as I started to help out on the discussion boards and attended a couple of conferences. Interest in our web services was growing rapidly, and I knew enough about them to be able to describe them to others. Since I had a very strong development background, I had a reasonable amount of credibility when I was in front of an audience composed of developers and system architects. At my 6 month review, my then-manager suggested that I apply for the open evangelist position, and I did so. A couple of days later, in April of 2002, I was officially designated as the first-ever Web Services Evangelist at Amazon.com.”
“Technology evangelism is a whole lot of fun. There are a number of reasons for this. First, we have a great product. Each time that I tell developers about each of our 7 different web services, I can see the wheels turning in their brains as they start to think about ways to use and make money with the services. Second, the developers are building cool and amazing things every day, and I get to see them and to demo them. Finally, nothing is static. I have to learn something new every single day. New technologies, new applications, new services, and even new buzzwords.”
You really should read Jeff’s full article and don’t miss that Amazon’s looking to hire some tech evangelists too: Web Service Evangelist.