You probably know that I’m a long-time Macintosh user, going back to the days of the single-floppy Mac SE. At one point, I worked in a computer lab that had a “Changing the world, one person at a time” poster on the wall. Every single one of my books, articles, and other resources has been written or developed on a Mac. So you can imagine how thrilled I am to be featured in an Apple Pro article. Not only can you find out a little bit about how I got into this whole CSS thing, but see a picture of me dropping some fat horns on my listeners.
I’ll put this Pro file on the shelf with being made a comic strip character as “ways to know I’ve really made it”. But you know what really told me I’d arrived? Discovering that someone had created a Wikipedia entry about me. It was a pretty stubby page at the time, but its mere existence was enough to drop my jaw into my lap. Now I find myself wondering if I should edit my own entry to include a full biography and related links, or if that would in some way be incredibly gauche. (And asking someone else to do it for me would just be gauche by proxy, which is worse.)
It’s an odd thing to be famous, even when the fame is limited to a specific field of activity. As a matter of fact, I was recently asked to write an article about the “fame game” and I’m still mulling over how to tackle it. See, when you get right down to it, being well-known is both a reward and a restraint. When people look to you, there’s a certain set of expectations that gets imposed upon you, whether you want them or not. You’re supposed to always be right, always be fair, and always be in agreement with whoever’s looking to you. None of these things are possible.
Nevertheless, I am where I am because I worked to get here (and was lucky), and I’ve no real complaints about the position I occupy. All told, it’s not a bad thing. It isn’t even a good thing. It just kind of is.
So there’s still the question of what I might write about the “fame game”. As it was posed to me, the editor was interested in my thoughts on “how influential designers and developers must balance ‘responsibility’ to the community with their own need to say what’s on their mind and use their clout to get good things done”. In many ways, it’s the classic “how do you feel about being a role model?” question. I’m not entirely sure I’m qualified to answer the question, although I do have some ideas. I often wonder what the community thinks, though.
So I’ll throw it out to you lot: in your personal opinion, how should influencers balance community responsibility with personal expression—or does there need to be a balance at all?