Wednesday, November 22, 2017

WIPs 5th Annual DevRel Survey - please fill it in! Closes 28 Nov 2017

Do you currently work in a developer relations  role or as part of a developer relations programme at a company/ organisation / government agency ? (If you're after a definition, this article may be useful.) If so, this survey is for you!

The developer relations craft is still relatively new and the community is still learning about it. As part of that effort, WIP has an annual DevRel survey which is now in its 5th year and they're asking all of you who work in developer relations in some shape or form to fill it in.

There isn't long to complete it - the closing date is next Tuesday 28 November 2017 and the early results will be shared at the upcoming DevRel conference in London. Caroline Lewko from WIP will be there to comment on the headline findings. The link is here:

The survey is completely anonymous and no contact information is being collected. The answers given will help people working in developer relations to get better at what they do, how they do it, what's important, best practices and more. You can see 2016's results here:

More about the organisation, WIP Factory, behind the survey can be found on their website. I've known the team for a long time and we've worked together a number of times. They've been immersed in developer relations for more than 10 years.

Day 22/30 NaBloPoMo

Monday, November 20, 2017

Ping pong robot, prizes, beer, mobile chat and more at Swedish Beers on Tuesday 21 November

Not long to go now until the next Swedish Beers bash in London. We'll be back at the Nordic Bar, our favourite London haunt, and as well as the usual chat, drinks and mingling, we will also have a Ping Pong Robot competition to raise funds for Bloodwise.

We're busy sorting out the prizes for that, but I can confirm that two of them are these latest release books.

The first is a copy of The Startup Way by Eric Ries of Lean Startup fame. I heard him speak at an event last week and wrote a few thoughts about that over on my personal blog. I managed to come away with an extra copy of the book which will be one of the prizes tomorrow night.
The other book that's up for grabs tomorrow is Rough Diamond: Turning Disruption into Advantage in Business and Life by Nicole Yershon.

We will also have some collection buckets, so please bring your small change - every coin counts.

If you prefer, you can donate on the justgiving page here

Or you can text in with your donation (UK only). Text BEAT01 £x to 70070 to donate to Bloodwise. The amount can be edited so that you choose how much you wish to donate, so if you're donating £5, then text BEAT01 £5 to 70070 or if you'd like to donate £2, then text BEAT01 £2 to 70070 - you get the idea!

The guest list for tomorrow night is shaping up nicely. If you haven't already registered, please do that here.

Entry is free and we'll have free drinks courtesy of Kindred Capital and Inspiring Interns for as long as the bar tab lasts. Everyone working in, around or interested in the mobile industry from a professional or academic point of view are most welcome. Do spread the word with your friends and colleagues.

Until tomorrow night then!

What do you do when your boss is an algorithm?

I was lucky enough to go to Business of Software's great event in London with entrepreneur and best-selling author, Eric Ries, talking about his new book, The Startup Way. The house was absolutely packed which is a testament both to the popularity of Eric Ries and how well Mark Littlewood and his team organise their Business of Software series of events.

I'm still mulling over much of what Ries was saying and I haven't yet read his book. The question that really stuck in my mind was about what workers will do when their boss is an AI or an algorithm. I've thought quite a lot about working with an AI as a colleague. Arguably, we're already doing that to some degree with our use of online tools such as search, productivity tools, graphic design software etc.

My boss is an algorithm
But what if the algorithm is our boss? Ries cited the example of an Uber driver. Who is the driver's boss? Who do they report to? Who tells them what to do? The answer, to all intents and purposes, is an algorithm (putting aside recent UK legislation about their legal status).

Imagine the scenario whereby a customer uses the app to hail a taxi in a high traffic area where there is a choice of driver. The algorithm decides which taxi driver(s) to show that too. That could be based on reviews (perhaps unverified), where the driver was the previous night, how frequently the driver chooses to drive for Uber, how safely the driver drives, who the driver is connected to on social networks and much more. And in that instance, who do you complain to anyway and what could they do? These algorithms are getting ever more complicated and anyway, this isn't a technical bug, this is an ethical question as much as anything.

I'm afraid, I don't have the answers, but I'm thinking about the implications of this in different aspects of work life.

Free book giveaway
Everyone at the BoS event last week got a copy of The Startup Way. I was lucky enough to come away with an extra copy which will be given away tomorrow evening at Swedish Beers in London as part of the Robot Ping Pong challenge. I do hope you can join us!

Eric Ries' Lean Startup talk & BoS archive
You can see Eric Ries's talk for BoS from 2010 when he'd just written Lean Startup. It's well worth revisiting.

Business of Software has archived all their previous talks and it's a fantastic resource. You can check it out here.

Day 21/30 NaBloPoMo (publishing a little ahead of schedule!)

Demystifying Data Analysis

In the world of media, marketing, apps and software, we are inundated with data. Arguably, we have more data than we'll ever know what to do with and it gets increasingly difficult to make sense of it all. It can feel overwhelming, and if you're not well versed in working with data, it can feel too much and you end up reverting to instinct rather than data. It's fair to say that instinct did ok for Steve Jobs but most people don't have his genius so are better off relying on data.

But what do you do when you're faced with loads of data after interviewing lots of people about a certain product, website or general day to day habits? This is a core part of anyone who works in user-experience. They're the people who work out what customers need or want or how they're using something and translate that into improving how your website or app will work. Of course, sometimes the advice is ignored, but in the main, it's advice you should be listening to.

If you're an SME or start-up or, perhaps, pre-startup, you can't always afford a dedicated user experience person to work with you but you need to start somewhere. This article from Rachel Hinman is a great starting point to give you a simple structure to working your way through your data to gain insights from it. Check it out now.

Day 20/30 NaBloPoMo

Online privacy, a battle that can't be won?

The party I went to at the weekend was interesting from a sociological point of view. Inevitably when at these kinds of things, I spent some time people watching and part of that was spent observing their mobile habits. Everyone had phones, even a lot of the children

The good thing was that people didn't seem to be using them too obviously and conversation was the order of the evening. There was a seated area outside the main room and that seemed to end up being the 'taking a break from the party and checking my phone' space. Every time I walked past, there were 2 or 3 people checking their phones. It was interesting that these people had chosen to step away from the party in order to do that. Is that a new social etiquette? I did it too. I stepped outside for a few minutes to call my Mum although I didn't succumb to browsing my social feeds for once.

The other habit worth noting was the lack of people taking photographs. Hardly anyone took any photos with their phone at all. I didn't take any either. I think much of that was down to the types of people who were there. They were mostly parents of children under 12. As such, I think they will have had so many letters from headteachers about not taking photographs at school events that they've stopped taking photos when children are around for fear of inadvertently taking a photo of a child without permission. I missed a cracker of a shot of a group of the children with their backs to me at the bar. I was very close to taking the picture but because they were all under 10, and even though you couldn't see their faces, I kept my phone in my bag and didn't take the picture.

I think it's right to be mindful of other people's privacy and I do try to do that but it's not always easy. But sometimes the big companies we use daily make that hard. Their growth hacking often relies on us sharing our lists of contacts with them so that services like Facebook and LinkedIn can join the dots to connect us with people we know. I, like many others, have learned the hard way, not to do that. Most of us have clicked something that triggered or nearly triggered a mass email to all the contacts on our address book.

I thought I'd turned off all of those contact book sync settings in the apps and online services I use. However, on checking, I did find some very old contacts on my Facebook sync which I have since removed. I was prompted to do this following a post from Techhub's Elizabeth Varley. Here are the instructions to check yourself.
Did you ever upload your phone contacts to Facebook? Can't remember and want to check? You may want to delete them all. You can find out if you've uploaded contacts here: .
None of this will delete any of your contacts as being Facebook friends, don't worry.
If you're doing this on desktop, use
Make sure to click on the messenger contacts too and delete those. I didn't think I'd uploaded any to Facebook, but had clearly slipped up ages ago and didn't realise some old contacts were still lurking there.
These uploaded contacts are one of the ways that Facebook does the "people you may know" thing.
If you're wondering why this might be an issue, here's a very good article about how Facebook uses data to figure out everyone you've ever met.

I don't know if we'll ever win the battle for online privacy. We can but try.

Day 19/30 NaBloPoMo (yes, I'm still behind but aim to catch up today!)

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Is technology impacting on human joy?

It's an interesting question and this topic came up in a conversation I was having last night at a party in London. There is a lot of seemingly mind-less-ness when it comes to digital media. I don't know about you, but I often find myself scrolling mindlessly up and down my social feeds and following links and reading things that I am neither particularly interested in nor remember once read. It's not healthy and I aim to keep this habit in check by asking myself what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.

Not only that, but with every login comes a decision on passwords, how much data to share, who has access to the data, what will my friends see or think of me if they see this, who should I share my picture/status/blog post with, wondering what's in the privacy agreement I just agreed to, clicking on products you might buy and then never buy and perhaps were never really interested in, or you buy and regret. And there are many, many more.

These are often micro decisions that we barely notice but they are decisions nevertheless, and I think make us more prone to decision fatigue (definition here) which makes us, in turn, more prone to make poor decisions. Research from Cornell suggests that we make over 200 decisions about food on a daily basis. Ramp that up with decisions about what we wear, what we do, what we watch, where we go on a daily basis and that ramps up quickly.

I'm wondering how much that decision fatigue is impacting on our human joy. Does it lead to poor decision making about the things that we know make us feel good or feel better such as spending time in nature, hanging out with friends and enjoying creative pursuits?

I'm not sure if that's where JoyTech are going with this survey but it was an interesting exercise to complete it this morning. It got me thinking about whether or not technology brings me joy or not. I think sometimes it does - I enjoy writing (well, when I'm in 'flow' at least) and I enjoy getting inspiration for sewing and fabric projects from craft blogs and instagram. Although on the latter point, I know I spend too much looking at other people's work rather than working on my own projects. And I think that's partly down to decision fatigue and partly down to how powerful the digital dopamine hit has become.

Anyway, check out the survey yourself. They will share the results with you if you're interested at the end of November.

If nothing else, by reading this post, hopefully you'll reflect a little on what brings you joy and act on it.

Day 18/30 NaBloPoMo (posted a day late)