Kin Lane

White, Male, And Convincing Myself I Am Doing Good With Technology

I’m winding down the mission focus of API Evangelist in 2017. Since 2010, I’ve had this mission to help the “normals” understand the importance and value of APIs. In 2017, I realized how this mission was more about me, than it was ever about anyone else. I don’t doubt that along the way I’ve helped inspire, and educate folks about APIs and what they can do, but looking back over seven years of my work I’m seeing much more damage done, than any positive impact.

As I step back from my own delusion, and look at the wider tech sector, and this “doing good” affliction that seems to infect mostly white men pushing technology across a variety of sectors, I’m beginning to ask a lot more questions regarding my own behavior. Why do I feel the need to push our technology on others? Why do I feel like we are doing good while doing this? It is a curious condition I would like to understand more, and I will spend more time understanding why I did this, and thinking deeply about why other technologists insist on having a mission, and that we are “doing good”?

The other blaring example of this mission syndrome that I see on a regular basis is through the lens of my partner in crime’s Hack Education world. Education technology is infested with white men who insist that they have a mission, and are doing good. It almost seems that the more nefarious their technology, the more insistent they are about having a mission. Many of these men have no experience or evidence that they understand anything about actually helping human beings learn, but demand their technology is all about making the world a better place.

WTF is wrong with us? What is it about technology whispering in our ear that makes us feel this way? I hate the parallels drawn between technology and drug addiction, but as a former hard drug user and dealer, all of this smells suspiciously like the world of drugs. I remember actively thinking and selling folks on the concept “you gotta have this, it will expand your mind, and make you a better human”. Pushing substances on folks. Of course, all while making money along the way. I believed what I was doing was for the greater good, and honestly is an experience that is giving me the tools I am using to unpack my techno-delusions.

One symptom that you can see play out, that demonstrates the problem that us technologically driven men have, is what happens when you challenge us. Try taking on a bitcoin enthusiast, GraphQL specialist, machine learning and artificial intelligence evangelist, and big data analysis expert on their outreach efforts and beliefs. Many respond passionately, if not aggressively. A sure sign of addiction in my experience. I’ve found myself doing this when it comes to APIs, but more often I’m fending off other folks passionately aggressive sales pitch of why I need what they got. “You just don’t understand man, it is the shit!”

Technology is a trip. Web technology is a delusion-ally virtual trip. It really seems to have many of us by the balls (pun intended), and working us like a puppet. I still perform this act on a daily basis via API Evangelist. Why? Because it makes me money! Of course, I’m always working to minimize the bullshit. Something I’m continuing to do by eliminating the mission driven rhetoric, but I just can’t quit API Evangelist. I’ve assumed this persona, and can’t seem to shake it. As I keep working to understand the beast I’ve created, I will continue to tell the story here on the blog.