I have come to a decision: I don't want to be an idea.
At the final LessConf, I listened to a presentation by Jack Passion. Jack's talk was on building a personal brand, something he is very qualified to talk about (he has his own publishing company, a reality TV show, and several endorsements). A large portion of the talk concerned building your brand.
Over the last few years as a software developer, I have noticed a push from the community for individuals to promote themselves through blogging, side projects and social media. While branding can be great for organizations, for individuals, a brand can become a prison cell built by the inmate.
By its very nature, your packaging distorts who you are in order to make it easier for more people to consume whatever it is you are doing. More often than not, this distortion comes in the form of distilling who you are down into something that is overly glossy and without much depth. In addition, this packaging is very static: once people recognize the branding you have built for yourself, it very difficult to break out of that box.
I spoke to Jack after his talk and asked him, now that his brand is well established, if he found that it limited him in any way. He responded, "Absolutely." His use of his impressive beard as part of his personal brand means that it is harder now for him to live as a musician. No longer is he a person—he is Beard Man.
I can't argue that Jack would be known to fewer people if he didn't build his brand around his beard, but it seems like he may have been more free. While I do want to start to build a community around the work that I am doing, I have decided that I want the packaging that I encase myself in should be as thin and transparent as possible.
Instead of being simple, I'll just be my weird self. Weird real loud.