There is no single, over-arching way to do Developer Relations. There are many parts to it. There’s the exciting traveling and speaking, being on stage with really smart people in really cool places. There are the parts people don’t see, developing applications that may never see the light of day, that proof of concept or for demo purposes. Then there are the tough parts, hours spent on planes and in airports, away from home, away from family.
So why do I do it?
I’ve heard from some folks that conferences are about the software, the tech, the IoT info, or even the sales. This is wrong. It’s about the people. What are the people in any given community doing? What do they want to learn or hear about? What’s missing that they might want to know?
At a previous job, whenever we had an all hands, one of the Directors or VPs or C levels always started with the same slide: “People are the point”
Sure, it sounds cheesy and corporaty, but I think this person was right, if I took it out of context. What we do in technology, be it as developers, makers, designers, support staff…whatever, it’s done by and for people.
Let’s be brutally honest: 99% of what we do in tech is not life saving. Hell, it’s not even life changing. It’s about working to do something people want but probably don’t need. But, it’s still important. Serving wants has its place as well.
But we inflate the things we do as “making the world a better place”. We rarely focus on what it is that would make the world a better place. Maybe treating people like people instead of commodities and statistics (or “users”) is a step in the right direction. This is why I do my job the way I do it.
You may not think making people think differently about what they do and how they do it is important. You may not believe a talk about cognitive improvement and interference based on small decisions in the work area are a big deal. You may not think Mental Health is something we need to discuss at a Tech conference.
I’d argue you are wrong.
These things we do, the things we create, they won’t last for the rest of your lifetime. The world of tech has no permanence, it’s constantly changing. We do better to focus on making the lives of people better than focusing on how to make an app faster or see how a tech talk can lead to more ROI.
There’s a time and place for everything. I guess I’m just saying, keep thing in perspective. And maybe a “soft talk” is what more people need instead of a shiny new tech thing sometimes.