Geek Celebs, are they now the product?


I’ve made some wise cracks about WebDU today and got a few chuckles from my friends within MSN Messenger. I made a joke about how at times I wasn’t sure WebDU was about the products or was it about Adobe Employee appreciation week (i.e. WebDU has a lot to offer – no disrespect to it –  but a select few (minority) do act a little silly when they are around the imports).

I mean that with no disrespect, but it’s something many (myself included) have noticed in years gone by, how employees of a company somehow achieve this “celebrity” status amongst their peers.

Tim Buntel from Adobe walks into a room of Coldfusion developers, he instantly has their attention, they are glued to his every word and I’m absolutely convinced that if Tim broke the news that Coldfusion was about to dump XYZ feature, he’d be the one guy who could break that news (people would complain, but only via blogs etc and not to him direct).

I heard comments about how Mike Chambers was unapproachable, and I asked why and the response was “because that’s Mike Chambers!“. It cracked me up, especially since his role in Adobe appears to be focused on community.

Adobe isn’t alone with this, I mean I remember the day when Robert Scoble linked back to my blog. A few friends go “omg! you got scobled” and it cracked me up as to be openly honest, I had no idea whom he was so I wasn’t impressed at the time.

It took someone to say “Oh he’s the channel9 guy, you know that guy who keeps interviewing the Microsoft folks” – “oh, cool!” (Sorry it just wasn’t that much of a religious experience).

I’ve met a lot of personalities from reading about them online, and I at times giggle to myself when I first meet them as a sudden wave of being “nervous” comes over me but then I push past that and continue to chat with them.

I must confess I do the same at times, especially when I hear the credentials of some geeks I’ve meet. An example comes to mind when Nick and I meet Joel Pobar, and we heard his story. Instantly we were going “dude, that guy’s the man” as we felt he deserved that kind of recognition for his effort and work history with Microsoft.

Yet if I tried to explain that same situation to my non-tech friends they would probably look at me with a confused look and go “uhuh“. Yet, if I were to meet say Jaymz Hetfield from Metallica and explain that meeting to anyone, they’d go “way cool man” (provided they knew who Metallica was).

It’s funny how we let personalities whom are there to market products, begin to overshadow the very products they are there for and they themselves become one.

Just look at Robert Scoble for exhibit A (All the power to him I say!). 

Even my own boss Frank Arrigo, has his share of followers (which he finds humbling)


Comments (8)

  1. nhodge says:

    Having spent time with the first Adobe Evangelist, Russell Brown, I can whole-heartedly say they are normal people.

    The "rockstar" / "fans" is something that comes with a stage.  People once recognised me at Woolies (long story)

    One day, you’ll be famous, too.  Maybe for 15 seconds. Or 15 microseconds on Twitter.

    Whatever the fame : enjoy it whilst it lasts.

  2. scbarnes says:

    I’ll take the 15 microseconds 😛

    I’m not in it for the fame dude, i just want the chicks that come with it lol

    Seriously, I hope I never get that luxury as its totally opposite to what I want 🙂 (I’m used to people nagging me about x or y, i think its the disruptive child within)

    Scott.

  3. Well, I don’t think geek celebs has anything to do with working at Adobe or Microsoft. At least in the Flash community, the vast majority of the "celebs" don’t work for Adobe.

    In my case, I owe 100% of my career to the Flash community, as that is where I learned everything I know about Flash, and which ultimately gave me an opportunity to work with Macromedia (and now Adobe). I just try to give back to the community whenever I can (whether it be though code, knowledge, or advocating for developers within Macromedia / Adobe).

    Personally, I feel I am very lucky and fortunate to get to travel to conferences, and meet and hang out with designers and developers who are doing really cool stuff (one of the reasons I love webDU so much).

    mike chambers

    mesh@adobe.com

  4. Weyert says:

    Yeah! Scott of the "How The Heck Did I Find My Sleeping Place in Sydney" Party. 😉

  5. scbarnes says:

    Mike,

    This isn’t an Adobe bashup or anything, its just something I’ve noted for sometime now. I guess, the Adobe crew are more obvious from my perspective as I’ve watched you guys come out year after year and seen the initial reaction from one and all.

    I remember when Sean Corfield and Branden Hall came out and watched as the kiddies flocked around them "Oh my god its him" and don’t get me started on when Ben Forta came out. I actually fitted into that crowd as I kept thinking "Hey this is pretty cool, he wrote the book that helped me on my Coldfusion path"..

    I say all the power to you with noteriety, and do whatever works 🙂 I won’t take anything away from it as this was just an observation I’ve noticed over time.

    I did laugh though when that webDU guy went "because that’s Mike Chambers!" – maybe you could setup a "meet mike for 15secs" booth or something? heheh.

  6. Scott, to be fair I’d have to say that the 40+ folk that managed to get up nice and early and come to an 8:00am Apollo Birds of a Feather session on the Friday morning of WebDU had Mike Chamber’s undivided attention.

    We had a great session with a lot of information forthcoming from Mike, quite a few snippets of information that I personally had heard for the first time.

    Mike’s closing remark was that he was to be at WebDU all day and that everyone was to feel free to come up and talk to him – I didn’t get the impression that was an empty offer.

    Andrew

  7. scbarnes says:

    I’m not seeing your point. I’m sure everyone there was listening but when I get asked twice in one night for me to introduce x person with y person, I just chuckle 🙂

    I was also asked by another dev to be introduced to Ted Patrick so that kind of made me laugh a bit as well.

    It’s common practice though not just Adobe but all sectors in IT. I’ve seen folks go all goeey when Vinton Cerf came to Australia and they were to scared to ask him a question?

    Yet if Vinton were to showup at a dinner party without prior knowledge of whom he was, people would think he was just this smart old dude who worked for some IT company 🙂

    Geek Celebs rock, but its funny at the same time 🙂

  8. I was talking to TechReady buddy of mine, Andrew Shorten ( ex Flex Evangelist , now Microsoft guy) and