So you are a technical evangelist, what does it even mean?

Published 2/8/2016 6:51:00 AM
Filed under Developers life

When I started developing software at thirteen I dreamed of architecting big software systems.
I really wanted to build cool stuff with my computer, although I could only program a little bit
of QBasic back then.

18 years later I am building big systems, but I haven't exactly reached my goal. Of course I
design my fair share of big pieces of architectures, but I'm not an architect.

Here's why. Quickly after I discovered programming I also discovered my love for doing new things.
I have a bad habit of stopping right before something becomes mainstream. The sort of thing you
don't want in an architect to be honest.

This property of finding out new stuff and stopping before it becomes mainstream is a useful
property if you know how to apply it though.

Instead of worrying about it, I made sure to use this property to my advantage by becoming
a technical evangelist. Yes, it's a thing and you may be wondering what that is, so let me explain what I do.

Try out new ideas, but not because you can

I love new stuff and I am pretty handy when it comes to learning new things. I have no trouble
diving into a new language or framework. My teammates are frequently worried about me and my experiments.

I tend to come up with at least a few new ideas every few hours or days depending on how busy I am
doing other stuff.

All these new ideas sometimes lead to comments like "No, you're not going to try this on our
production server!"

Lucky enough for my teammates, most of the ideas I have never make it to production. I can't help myself
I have to try new things and talk about them, throw them against the ideas of others to see what sticks.
This helps me figure out what I should convince other people to use and what I should write or talk about.

I keep trying things out. Experiment with new languages, frameworks and techniques.
Some examples I've build about 20 times before I was happy with the results. And maybe if I try
another time it will get even better.

My goal as a technical evangelist is to try as many things as I can in the areas I find fun.
This way I discover what works and what doesn't work.

Help out wherever you can to learn

But technical evangelism is not just about trying new things and talking about them.
You learn a lot about technology when you help others on their projects.

When I help someone I learn new things. For starters I learn how other developers use technology.
I also learn a lot about how they think. This is important for me, because if I want to change
my portion of the world I need to know how.

When you know how people think about certain aspects of IT, you know how to approach their problems.
This helps me as a technical evangelist to approach the people in the right way, so they understand
my ideas and how I can help them get better at what they do.

And then talk about it

As you help people they get to know you and when you have a new idea they are the audience
that will listen to your wild ideas and know what they mean to them. Because talking about your ideas
is the best way to change that little spot in the universe you're in.

You can do this by writing blogposts, giving talks during conferences, writing articles in magazines,
recording videos etc.

The ultimate goal here is to help people along however I can. This means I need to share as much
of the knowledge and ideas I carry around in my head.

This all sounds very meta, why should I care?

You may be wondering, what this has to do with your job and why such a thing as technical evangelist exists.
I mean, trying out things and talking about them costs money and my boss doesn't earn a penny for it.

You can use my brain to get new ideas for your project. It saves you a lot of time when you do that!
There's nothing worse then being stuck on a problem without getting help. Call me, text me, whatsapp me, twitter me.

I love to hear about your problem, puzzle, idea and maybe I can help you get things done quicker by adding some
of my ideas in the mix.

Also, I hope to inspire you to do things you've never done before. I think it keeps developers happy to try
something new from time to time. And I bring the added bonus of having run into many problems so you don't have to.