Geek As Citizen: Boost The Signal – Be The Ambassador

So, you want to get people to notice good works out there. Being a Geek Citizen you want to “Boost the Signal” as I’ve unoriginally named this series. You want people to know what’s worth your time – and of course there’s the side effect that if they enjoy the things you found they’ll waste less time on crap.

Or what you deemed crap, but I’m going to trust you.

The first thing you should do is be an Ambassador for the work(s) in question, the things you want to promote.

I say Ambassador for a reason.

Meet Your New Role

Consider what an Ambassador is in the ideal sense – a representative of something who crosses boundaries, engages people, advocates for others, and builds relations. That’s what you need to be to Boost The Signal.

  • Cross Boundaries – For that which you care about, you need to sep outside your confront zone, and meet people on their own ground. This helps you relate to them – and makes the first move.
  • Engages People – If you want to show folks what’s good, Boost The Signal on good tech or good comics, you have to talk to people directly. You engage and connect with them.
  • Advocates For Others – You need to speak for the work(s) in question. You need to be their advocate – to say what is good for them and help them speak. It also helps that when speaking for others, it’s less likely your ego will get (directly) in the way.
  • Builds Relations – You Work to build relations with peoples, groups, etc. Flash-in-the-pan doesn’t cut it for most people, viral marketing be damned. You establish relationships.

So if you want to Boost The Signal for something, this is your new role – Ambassador.

Avoid The Annoying Parts

Notice I specifically chose the word “Ambassador” to describe the mindset you need to take. I did it because of what it represents, what it says – and what it’s not. I’d like to explain the latter subtly, but let me put it this way.

In too many cases people advocating for various works are annoying and do no good work or even cause damage. I can say just for myself that I ignored Harry Potter and Serenity because I was sick of hearing how great they are. The people trying to sell me on them ended up delaying me actually paying attention.

We’ve all been there. It can be a marketing campaign ramming a new round of stupid into public consciousness. It can be the annoying person who keeps telling you about a new novel. It can be anything that turns encountering something new and worthy into a belittling, one-direction experience that won’t end.

We’ve met various people who should have been Ambassadors, but were instead:

  • Would-Be Evangelists – Preaching away in a one-directional way and a slight sense of superiority, never realizing that though they may be preaching, we weren’t the choir. Also they got on our nerves.
  • In-Your-Face Advocates – Who decided good relations were built by constantly bugging us as opposed to you know, actually connecting.
  • Persistent Fans – Their dedication was obvious, only after awhile we kind of got tired of seeing it and hearing about it.
  • Frothing Pundits – People ranting about something on TV and in newspapers for money is bad enough – doing it in private is worse because you’re a non-profit pain-in-the-ass.

Even if you don’t fall into the categories above, your advocacy for something can trigger negative reactions. We’ve all gotten tired of the Next Big Thing, The Must See Movie, and The Song I Really Want You To Hear. Like it or not, promoting a work or a technology means crossing a minefield of bitterness, boredom, and mistrust.

But by deciding to be an Ambassador, to meet people and connect with them, you adopt he mindset that can promote what you care about. When you do that, you Boost The Signal and more people pay attention to the good works important to you.

But What Do I Do?

Well, you’ve deemed yourself ambassador for some book, band, film, show, comic, software, whatever. What’s next?

Well, I’m glad you asked. Because that’s next . . .
– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, publishes books on career and culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at

Geek As Citizen: To Advocate

In my ongoing analysis of the role of a “geek as citizen”, I determined geeks were experts at knowing (indeed it’s instinct), driven to apply their knowledge (which is part of our enthusiasm), and thus good at experimenting (as in inclined). Indeed my term “Applied Geek” is a bit like Sahara Desert as all geeks to some case are about “application.”

We know, we use, and in a few cases we go crazy in a (possibly) productive way.

So really my take is that Geeks are a kind of “middleman/middlewoman” in a culture, mixing both academic and hands-on approaches together to get things done and to innovate. I’m not saying geeks are superior, I’m merely noting where they fit into the great scheme of civilization – and being a geek I’m all too aware of my limitations (like the faffing about, occasional obsessiveness, odd perspectives, etc.)

However, as I noted we are kind of “people in the middle” and that provides some further guidance on the social roles we can and indeed should take as geeks. We’ve got information coming in on all sides, we get our hands dirty, we kind of see and do a lot.

Sure we may not be as “face to face” on some things, or as academic, or our hands may not be as dirty as some (which is a terrible metaphor but you get the idea). We may also be limited by our own obsessions to being “in the middle” of a pretty limited area of expertise. But in the middle we are.

That leads to one of our important roles, as advocates and evangelizers for important causes and information. It may be the value of education, or knowing a given programming language, or climate change, or Applied Geek careers like yours truly. But because we’re in the middle of so much, we can in turn advocate for what is important.

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