Self Promotion Without Guilt!

Last Monday I gave a workshop at the Media Lab Festival of Learning on self promotion and how to do it without feeling totally icky about it.  The workshop went great, and I had lots of requests online and off to share my materials.  So I will!

The Platonic ideal of self promotion is something along the lines of Austin Kleon‘s “Do good work and share it with people.” But I think a lot of the time people view “self promotion” or people who are seen to be good self promoters with a mix of admiration and squicky distaste.  It just feels so awkwardly self-centered to talk about your work and how awesome it is (even if it is TOTALLY AWESOME).  Maybe this is because as a culture we discourage people from declaring their own awesomeness independent of outside confirmation. Maybe it is because people (especially women) are socialized away from drawing attention to ourselves and our own achievements.  Maybe it’s because we don’t think our work is that interesting or useful, and don’t understand why people would want to hear about it in the first place.  Or maybe it’s because we don’t think we should be speaking publicly about something unless we know EVERYTHING about it because if we don’t know EVERYTHING about it we’re obviously not experts and only experts get to speak in public about things, right?  Or maybe it’s a totally different reason.

Whatever the reason is, the result is that horrible squirmy feeling in your guts whenever someone gives you a compliment, that stops your from posting that story or applying to that program or talking to that Kickass Person Whose Work You Admire or something.  It is getting in your way. It is Impeding Your Awesome. So I’m going to offer you some tips on how to defeat the squirmy guilty feeling, and some strategies you can use to share your work with the world.

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Aaron Swartz 1986-2013

I am very angry right now.

I’ve talked about Aaron’s case before, how it represents (represented) an obscene overreach on the part of a government pushing an agenda of systematic control over the internet and information technology. How it reflected a popular paranoia of the technologically gifted that you can see promoted in any film about “hackers” made in the last 30 years. I should have been louder.

I didn’t know Aaron. I dearly wish I had.  Those who did know him are broken-hearted and upset and angry and far more eloquent than me.  You should read what they have to say. I have linked to a few below, but there are so many more.

And you should be angry, too.  You should tell people that what happened, this case, was wrong. You should believe that we can do so much fucking better.

Larry Lessig’s Prosecutor as bully
Cory Doctorow’s RIP Aaron Swartz
Alex Stamos’s The truth about Aaron Swartz’s ‘Crimes’
danah boyd’s Processing the loss of Aaron Swartz
Ethan Zuckerman’s Goodbye Aaron
Quinn Norton’s My Aaron Swartz, whom I loved