Why It’s Called FabRiders

In 1998 I was handed a description for a job called Circuit Rider, which was a roving technology consultant with a big difference. Instead of being focused around a particular technology, we focus on social change issues. A Circuit Rider’s goal is to help an organisation achieve their mission or win a social change 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, shared between congregations who couldn’t afford their own preachers. Modern Circuit Riders are technology evangelists, 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 job has also changed: going from working across the US with the LINC Project to working in other parts of the world and now running my 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 connection to 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 an expensive art deco bulb and the other to shriek ‘FABULOUS’. Largely it’s my way of keeping hold of when being gay meant being flamboyant, exotic and a threat to society. I feel lucky to work within a community that has always welcomed me for who I am. That’s not to say we focus only on gay rights and the marginalised, as we also work on connected themes around freedom of expression, and transparency and accountability. What it does mean is that everything and everyone that we work with is, indeed, FABULOUS.