Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi! I’m James Seconde, the PHP Developer Advocate at Vonage. I’m a trained actor with a dissertation in stand-up comedy and a love of tech. Funnily enough, this path has led me into the field of DevRel. I also cook and DJ poorly.
What do you feel is the most important part of your job?
I think the whole “Customer 0/dogfood” aspect of what we do is super important. We have a bunch of products and libraries in the process of being launched or improved. Seeing how we expect our developers to interact with them is absolutely vital to the success of what we do at Vonage - after all, we are a largely developer-facing company.
What is something you’re struggling with?
I expect this is going to sound like a broken record on here, but honestly? People, conferences, and events. _Particularly _the fact that we’re starting to open up, and the new Omicron variant looks to already be scuppering my early 2022 engagements. My move into dedicated Developer Advocacy (as a job role rather than a voluntary thing I did myself for my profile) has seen me working _only _in virtual spaces and it’s hard to have any sort of decent impact you can get with 1:1 conversations.
Tell us about a time you were inspired by someone or something in DevRel.
It’s not an aspect of DevRel that I particularly _want _to get into because I don’t think I’m personally too suited to it as a medium, but watching Salma Alam-Naylor in the space of a year build a quite frankly _massive _following during her time at Contentful on Twitch while facing both sexual harassment _and _being a parent (on this front I’ll be honest, I’m not finding it easy myself) is absolutely awe-inspiring. That medium—where you are part entertainer, part developer, and part radio host is such a difficult set of balls to juggle and she does it effortlessly.
What’s one change you’d like to see in DevRel?
Conferences accepting CfPs from big names, only to get the feeling that the end result is content for the sake of content and they are having to fulfill quotas too fast (or sponsorship slots). We all tread the burnout tightrope quite dangerously anyway, but forcing out content like this doesn’t feel very intuitive. This trend also makes me worry that we’re heading too much towards the “DevRel presenting to DevRel” trajectory. We’re supposed to be connecting with Developers, let’s keep it that way?