In 1998 someone handed me a description for a job called a Circuit Rider, which was essentially a roving technology consultant. But with a big difference: instead of being centred around a particular technology, they were focused on an issue. A Circuit Rider’s goal is to help an organisation achieve their mission or win a campaign by using technology, rather than with the starting point being the technology itself. The name derives from 19th century preachers in the Western US, who were shared among congregations who couldn’t afford to have their own preachers. Modern Circuit Riders are technology evangelisers, translators connecting geeks to non-geek work and more than anything else, mentors.
Happily, I got the job. Over time the term Circuit Rider became known as eRider. My own job has also changed over time: going from working across the US with the LINC Project to working with Tactical Tech in other parts of the world and now running my own consultancy, FabRiders from the UK. The core of what I have done since 1998 and still do is about this work. There is more on FabRiders about the history of Circuit Riders/eRiders and also about ‘mission driven’ technology capacity building.
I use the word ‘Fabulous’ quite a lot, particularly in regard to my work. It’s from that joke: how many homosexuals does it take to screw in a light bulb? TWO, one to go out and buy a really expensive art deco bulb and the other to shriek ‘FABULOUS’. Largely it’s my way of keeping hold of that time when gay people were something flamboyant and exotic. I feel lucky to work within a community that has always welcomed me for who I am. That’s not to say we just focus on gay rights and the marginalised, as we also work on broader themes like transparency and accountability. What it does mean is that every thing and every one that we work with is, indeed, FABULOUS.