what am I selling?
Simple question, eh? It is today, but might not remain that way for much longer.
I subscribe to a whole bunch of RSS feeds, as you can see by the “bloglines blogroll” list on the right. Some of those talk about blogging, with certain assumptions, and the foremost of those is that the blogger has something to sell, and that is why he or she is blogging. Over four years since I started blogging, and I’m only asking this question now?
Let’s start with the philosophical: in various discussions I’ve had with people on the topic of religion, I arrived at an interesting conclusion. All religions have an evangelical element to them, to different degrees. Even Buddhism, the least pushy religions I know of, has a subtle “grassroots” marketing element to it The thing is: I’m an atheist, a term derived from what I don’t believe in. I have no sacred texts to follow, no rituals to observe. No gurus to worship – much as I appreciate what the likes of Richard Dawkins, Isaac Asimov, Richard P Feynman or Arthur C Clarke offer to those with inquiring minds and a sense of adventure.
In other words, there is no such thing as “evangelist atheism”. Sure, I may express concern at the negative effects of religion, but what do I say to an individual? “You’re wrong to believe?” I don’t need to try that to know what to expect. Besides, the old cliche still applies: “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”. I’m not trying to sell my philosophy to anyone; there would be no actual benefit to me, real or theoretical, if anyone bought it.
What about money, or my livelihood? This is where things may need to change a little. I’ve been in steady employment for six-and-a-half years, here in Ireland, which is longer than I expected to be. By the end of this year, or even sooner, I should have a good idea of how much longer I will be keeping my job, since my colleagues and I are allegedly too expensive. Lower costs are the reason I was brought to Ireland in the first place, and will be the reason my job heads to India or China. Who knows where I will go?
The reboot 8 conference next month is a chance to immerse myself in the possibilities opening up under the heading of “web 2.0” – however you define it – and what, if anything I can get involved with. Where do I fit in? I don’t know. What I do know is: when I’m out looking for new employment I will need to focus on myself. Do a better job of identifying my key skills and enhancing them. Then I will have something to sell: an unpleasant prospect, but a nettle I will need to grasp.
As if that was not enough, I will have to consider the possibility of a limited public presence for myself. Not in any conventional media sense, but it seems to me that anyone with something serious to say in a technical field can’t do it behind a cloak of anonymity. The “brand of me” is something I’ve refused to countenance, and I still sneer at “celebrities” who are famous for nothing real or useful.
I’ve been an intensely private person all my life, and have always resisted giving out personally identifiable information. It’s been used against me in the past, by marketers, and by people turning up on my doorstep and making demands of me. Relaxing enough to use my own name in public is not going to be easy. I’m not even sure it’s possible, but enough time has passed to let me consider the possibility. Fear not: a career in politics is a very long way off.