Kin Lane

Using Ego as a Fuel for API Evangelist

Back when I started API Evangelist in 2010 I believed in what I was doing. In 2020, not so much. It has become more difficult to tell meaningful stories about technology these days. Not that it is all bad, but the last decade of the business and politics of APIs have made the technology of APIs less appetizing to me as a writing subject. As I unpeeled the onion that is Kin Lane over the last decade through my storytelling I learned a lot about myself, and why technology was so appealing to me—-much of it wasn’t good. I learned early on writing on API Evangelist that I was better off developing a persona or character to use as a muse when writing, because I am…well, actually pretty fucking boring. So over the years I have explored several different dimensions of my API Evangelist storytelling, which has included elevated levels of ego to help me channel my tech bro energy to help shape my tone so that it will speak more to the API community, but also just give me the energy to put words down on the blog regularly.

Public performance takes a certain amount of ego. The ego I portray in my API Evangelist storytelling isn’t real or fabricated. I’d say that I come by the ego naturally as a white man. My work in technology and specifically during the last decade as the API Evangelist has revealed the scope of my ego to me, and provided me with a way to step back and see it, but then also cultivate it so that I can use it as a fuel when needed. Putting myself out there and writing regularly online thinking anyone would want to hear what I have to say takes a certain amount of sense and confidence in ones self, or at least enough confidence mustered periodically to put the words down and hit publish. Ego also helps as a shield when it comes to people nitpicking your grammar, the ideas you are putting forth, or your choice of technological tools. The regular usage of my real world ego, as well as my cultivated and laboratory grown ego as part of the API Evangelist experience has helped me become more precise in how and when I use it, making sure I stockpile it for when I don’t have the energy and passion to actually step up and perform.

I am extremely introverted. I’d rather exist behind the scenes of things, but because of my privilege and me believing the stories being told from 1990 through 2010 about technology, I felt compelled to keep attempting to build applications, startups, and other techno-solutions, resulting in one that kind of sorta worked, API Evangelist. In 2020 it is hard to put API Evangelist down because 1) it keeps my overactive brain busy with very detailed puzzles to solve, and 2) my financial livelihood is intertwined with performing as this successful character that resembles a former version of myself. I would say I have less ego than I did in 2010, I’d just say I better understand my ego, and are better at knowing when to apply it, and in it what forms. As an introvert who is highly skeptical of most of the technological promises being made today it takes a significant ego jolt to perform on stage each day, resulting in me needing an ego adrenaline shot to the heart before I get to work on any blog post, and usually another jolt to actually push it from the confines of my notebook into the public sphere for scrutiny.

How else is anyone going to write 750 words on HTTP headers, or an API sign up process, and honestly believe that anyone else out there is going to read it and give a shit about it. You have to have ego, either real or fabricated. You have to have a pretty robust sense of ones self and your purpose in the world to write API blah blah blah for 10 years. Or you are just off your rocker. Maybe both are needed. In 2010 I was tired of doing a lot of different things half assed—-which is really the curse of my adult life. I figured if I went all in on something. Lived it. Breathed it. Then worked hard to tell stories about it, I could find some success. I could make some money. I could keep my busy mentally ill mind at work and out of trouble. It worked. Well for a while. Over the last decade I have had to get creative about how I keep the drumbeat going, how I keep the lights and, how I don’t either lose my soul or my mind along the way. Resulting in my erratic, ever-evolving approach to being the API Evangelist in this wacky online environment we’ve created for ourselves.

I have a notebook full of API ideas to work from. However when I crack open my notebook and expect to get from idea to story to something published I have to convince myself that this is a worth while endeavor. I have to trick myself into thinking that what I will ultimately publish will be valuable. Hell no, it has to be amazing and game changing. This one JSON property is going to cure cancer, mow your lawn, and leave you a happier and more well balanced person. This is something that takes ego. This takes delusion. Something that used to be natural in my world because I believed in technology, but isn’t a readily available commodity in my world anymore. I can remember when it was easy for me to get excited about the little technical details, but in 2020 I am just not that excited anymore and I have to manufacturer an over-inflated sense of myself and my importance to get the words down on the page. I have to regularly look in the social media vanity mirror and yell at myself to get pumped up. I have to psyche myself out and get myself back to a world where what I have to say matters and is important. A world where I can change the world with technology alone.

Ok. So, why do I do this? It is a dumb blog talking about a technological topic nobody gives a shit about. Well, I may mot be 100% on team API, but if I can keep the leading tech companies, organizations, institutions, and government agencies thinking I know what I am doing then I can keep my soap box, and command the paycheck I enjoy. I can get paid to map out the machine and stay in tune with out it works. Something that will allow me to (hopefully) use my voice for what matters, at just the right moment, when it is needed. I’m not doing it to be “The API Evangelist”. Barf. I don’t do it to have more readers and more traffic, as I rarely look at my analytics. I do it to maintain a relevant voice that people in key positions will listen to when it comes to technology policy. I do it to continue to be able to pay my bills and put my daughter through University. I know that many folks think that I have an overinflated ego, and in some ways I do. However, I think from the outside–in, if you never really get to know me, I can look like I am quite caught up in myself. Where if you spend some time getting to know me, truly learning about what I care about, and how my mind works, you’ll see that it is all a performance to keep myself out of trouble and moving forward positively, contributing to the world around me.