Evangelism in Technology

IT Business, IT Culture
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This opinion piece comes on the heels of a discussion started on two groups I belong to, the Greater Orlando Linux Users Group and SBS 2K group. Being Microsoft and Linux biased these two bunches would claim to be worlds apart but they are quite similar in their struggles with evangelism, especially when the product they promote drasticly changes or falls behind times: be it Slackware or SBS 2003. When it comes to promoting technology you have to first understand what makes a good evangelist and what makes for someone whose opinion is actually respected. For example, your church preacher and stoned guy on the corner of the intersection holding "Honk for Jesus" sign probably have a similar message, but who would you trust more? The guy with a big building, and why? Credibility! What establishes credibility over time is being able to provide the right answers for the right situation. If you continuously provide the same answer no mater how much the question changes it does not make you a good evangelist, it turns you into the guy on the corner. You earn respect and professional respect of your peers by being able to evaluate the situation and provide a solution based on your knowledge, experience and understanding of whats available. You become an evangelist when you find a product that helps solve problems of so many people that you take it upon yourself to help them… Congratulations, way to go. But beware of promoting this product to peole whom it doesn't actually help — at this point not only do you lose your peers respect, you turn into the guy on the corner holding a sign. I guess at the end of the day you have a decision to make: Do I want do be a respected professional in this field or someone whose radio dial got stuck on a station in 2003? Things change, solutions change, demands change. Learn to be dynamic, never compromise your ethics for a product you do not develop yourself!