Last week, the chilling visage of David Shing was thrust upon the world. Equally horrific was his job title—"Digital Prophet." That's something you can be for a living? Yes, and there are plenty of other make-believe jobs out there, too.
The people with these jobs, these exercises in techno-lust imagination, are likely overpaid, doing very little, or both.
David Shing - Digital Prophet at AOL
The reigning champion, Shingy's job is literally to make predictions about the future on behalf of AOL. They don't have to actually come true.
Valentine Uhovski - Fashion Evangelist at Tumblr
Besides posing for cool pictures, Uhovski's job at Tumblr is to help secure advertising relationships for his company. At most places, this would be called something boring and normal, like "Account Manager," or whatever. But where's the holy glory in that?
Andrew Golis - Entrepreneur-in-Residence at The Atlantic
The EIR slot is coveted at any of the many otherwise-serious institutions that offer the role, mostly because no one has any clue what an EIR does. In the case of Andrew Golis (who recently switched gigs), not even The Atlantic could explain why The Atlantic needed this thing:
Working closely with The Atlantic's Editorial and Digital Strategy and Operations teams, Golis will support the media brand's expanding video and paid-content initiatives. He will also work with the teams to help identify and launch new ventures and products across The Atlantic's platforms.
Business Insider dedicated an entire article to try to demystify the job, with no luck. But it'll stick around, employing people who furrow their brows at Twitter all day, if only because entrepreneur is next to messiah in terms of career cachet. And besides, no one can say "You don't do anything around here" if no one knows what the fuck you're supposed to be doing.
Matthew Shoup - Hacker-in-Residence at LinkedIn
See above, swap one noun for another—job security through obscurity, yet again. Fast Company interviewed Shoup about his gig in 2010:
What are some of the most fun hacks you've worked on?
DropIn is like LinkedIn Tetris. It's pretty much like the traditional game of Tetris, but we substitute LinkedIn profile pictures.
Michael Phillips Moskowitz - Chief Curator at eBay
This is a website where you can buy used iPods and shit, not the fucking Guggenheim. And yet, the task of picking which used doodads will wind up on the front page of eBay is considered curation these days, as is pretty much any virtual act of pointing at something on your screen and slurring "Hey that thing looks cool."
Jenn Lim - Chief Happiness Officer at Delivering Happiness
I have literally no clue what Delivering Happiness is. According to her website, it is "a company that she and Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos) co-created in 2010 to inspire happiness in work, community and everyday life." OK.
Nathan Jurgenson - "Researcher" at Snapchat
Everyone misses college sometimes, but for Nathan Jurgenson, the thrill of exchanging vague ideas in your dorm's common room at 2 a.m. never has to stop. What if we studied disappearing phone pics with the same rigor as Hegel? Snapchat pays him to be its in-house academic, writing hifalutin blog posts about "ephemerality" and tweeting things like this:
like, this tweet won't be deleted, but is largely ephemeral in that it won't have lasting presence, consequence, meaning
— nathanjurgenson (@nathanjurgenson) February 2, 2014
Consequence and meaning, indeed!
Damon Horowitz - In-House Philosopher at Google
Joining Jurgenson in the virtual academy is Damon Horowitz, who convinced Google to let him have the official title of "Philosopher" when his company was acquired.
William Bunce - Innovation Sherpa at Microsoft
Microsoft has been struggling to innovate its way out of a hole for the past several years, to no avail. This is strange, considering the company employs an Innovation Sherpa—although maybe it's because he studied innovation at a culinary school in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Callie Schweitzer - Director of Digital Innovation at TIME
Let's let her boss explain it:
In her new editorial role at TIME, Callie will focus on increasing traffic and audience engagement. She'll also oversee our social media team, newsletters and a variety of other new product initiatives and content partnerships.
The job itself is a digital innovation.
Image by Jim Cooke, source art via Renata Sedmakova / Shutterstock.com