How Polywork helps Developer Relations
If you haven't heard about it, Polywork aims to be your professional space to showcase all the amazing things you do - work projects, talks, podcasts, blog posts, side projects, open source, NFTs & more. In this blog post, I'll share my experiences adopting Polywork into my role as Senior Developer Evangelist at GitLab.
Work items can quickly change, and priorities are adjusted to what is important now. One example is the log4j security incident, where it needed cross-team collaboration, and finding a way to publish details for customers and users quickly. The same week, Opstrace was officially acquired by GitLab; a project dear to my heart going on for many months in 2021.
Feeling successful also requires a "review", a diary entry, a thought, a reflection, a retrospective, ... everyone handles it differently. I've taken a break after a stressful week in December 2021 and logged two updates for my later self, who is writing this blog post now in January 2022 :)
Reflecting the year(s)
What did I do last year? I remember a lot from 2021, but certainly not everything. I guess my story is different for everyone who asks. Though I love looking back and scrolling over the timeline.
Some years ago, I've logged everything into Facebook, and it keeps reminding me every year. 2014 in San Francisco, my first talk in English, PuppetConf, and much more. Facebook became bloated and unclear in its direction, so I stopped using it and occasionally cross-post from Instagram. Am I using Instagram to log great moments? Well, if food and animal pictures count ... Instagram is limited, and a lot of posts and connections just happen because impressions and monetization are more important. Stories and reels vanish, so not really fit my timeline scrolling idea.
Twitter added support for up to four images some years ago (previously one had to use Tweekdeck with external image hosters), which made it easier to log memories and also attach screenshots. For a while, it looked like my own feed could live up to my memories.
When I became a Developer Evangelist in March 2020, I've changed my Twitter habits even more than before as OSS monitoring maintainer. My knowledge in the Ops area, long-term Dev experience, and Sec interest define a broad field. Helpful blog posts, articles, Hacker News links, and more are published with scheduled tweets. When I see interesting tweets or want to start a discussion, I often retweet, or retweet-quote. While this helps make my Twitter profile a useful resource for learning, it becomes chaotic with scrolling back the history. It's also too much, so I take breaks from social media in my spare time.
How Polywork is different
First off, there are no impression/view metrics or like counters. This reduces the pressure to create engaging content and to break the records once again. Key performance indicators (KPI) in DevRel are hard to measure - impressions being one of them, and not existing in Polywork does not help DevRel on the first look.
Reviewing your timeline sparks joy, seeing what you have achieved. Take a moment, and think of activities you did not add yet, or a collaboration with your (DevRel) friends - anything to add and tag?
An activity or highlight isn't limited to work or technological achievements. "Got inspired", "working remote" and "refreshed my batteries" are important for me and my future self, a reminder to take time to be open for new ideas, and also take paid time off more often. Unforeseen changes made me travel from Germany to Austria earlier in Dec 2021, just working from my parent's home for three days.
Intentional highlights can help analyze that you are working too much in a defined time window, leading to burnout. They also help in times where you are not feeling very productive and start with imposter syndrome symptoms. A small activity log, or a vision to create something in the coming weeks, can tremendously help your brain.
Also consider sharing a mistake, or failure and add your thoughts and reflections. Normalize being human with all good and bad situations.
The next big thing for talks in the next year, currently writing code and testing demos? Add a Polywork highlight. Ended up fire-fighting a security media escalation the whole week? Well, don't leak anything but log an update for yourself. "Cross-team collaboration" with maybe a blog post later. Feeling blocked by writing a full-blown feature blog post? Log the idea to Polywork, link a GDoc/Notion/etc. and use it as a way to keep track of ideas, with later breaking it down into a blog post when you're in the mood. Or don't, just remove the thoughts from your brain and sleep better.
Explore collaboration opportunities
Find the next podcast speaker, learn about new events and call for papers, meet startups, and test new products, ... in my experience, this can be hard to find or needs good friends and connections.
As a Developer Evangelist working in DevRel, I am really interested in learning about events, podcasts, etc. where I can share my experience. Opportunities may come from different channels and are often unclear in requests like "Hi, if you are open for XY, I'll share more details." (requestor tip: please always share the full context and URLs so I can review async).
I love to set expectations before someone reaches out for collaboration. That's something I truly miss on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. - think of a template, giving the requestor a gentle introduction and insights into what's expected.
Polywork has added a lot of opportunities in the past months - I truly recommend reviewing your profile and selecting more/fewer opportunities.
Content Creation is something I just added for myself, seeing it in Pauline's profile.
After saving, Polywork shows your own personal request form URL "https://poly.work/dnsmichi/contact". Nice, updated my About page :)
... is it in a CV, your personal website, LinkedIn, GitHub/GitLab profile, Twitter, or somewhere in between? New opportunities and job offers will use different sources, and it is hard to keep everything up-to-date. For example, my LinkedIn profile is more recent than my CV, and my portfolio and talks pages often are missing a new highlight at Polywork. What if there were one resource where all others could be automated from?
That's something I look forward to with Polywork collections, allowing to group highlights and make them more discoverable. Someone recently posted about LEGO builds collections, that's a great idea for me of turning back time to when I built the LEGO Millenium Falcon and many more models. You can also find them in my talks :)
Cheering and connecting
Polywork doesn't come with the social media drug addiction to always check in to see likes, replies, and impressions. Without them, we have to be more intentional with sharing congratulations and agreement. It's a change compared to established social media platforms. A change I personally like, as I can explore new opportunities from the space station, and profiles from the multiverse and reach out for an agenda-less coffee chat ☕
Making new friends can be your next Polywork activity update.
I sometimes feel exhausted reading about technology everywhere. Who else is out there, sharing their moments of success and experience? That's beyond a professional connection or a stream of tweets. Polywork's multiverse invites you to learn more about creators, artists, etc., and follow new topics and people.
I have to admit, this can be a time sink as I love exploring and diving from one page into another. That's a similar addiction as to finding new artists on Spotify with suggestions and diving deeper with more filters.
Explore new content and reshare
Huge portions of my work involve learning from many content sources in our community and developing my own thoughts around them. Staying up-to-date can be challenging, reading newsletters, articles, Hacker News, social media, etc. - check the Developer Evangelism at GitLab handbook for examples.
Polywork's multiverse filters allow you to search for everyone, e.g. who wrote a blog post or is engaged in Open Source. It is not just limited to content creation though - it can be an option for you as DevRel to add it as a new source to reshare interesting posts to your other networks, or add them into your newsletters and thought leadership articles.
I've shared a feature request with the Polywork team for more activity badge filters, and search results as a feed. Think of how you use issue labels in GitLab, and navigate similar labels to get a pre-filtered view of things you are interested in. Or post tags from dev.to and other platforms. At some point, Polywork will learn what you like and suggest more "for you" activities.
I've been testing the iOS app in Testflight for a while, also works flawlessly on my iPhone, iPad Pro and Apple watch.
Looking forward to a soon-to-be-published app, making activity shares a breeze in an all-remote environment. "Went for a walk" with a picture from green grass is a lovely memory for refreshing your own batteries :)
Refresh memories together
Did we meet and collaborate, and I forgot to tag you or log the update? You can add the highlight to your timeline, and add me as a collaborator. I'll get a notification to review and approve, and can reshare your activity into my timeline.
Niclas highlighted 40 #EveryoneCanContribute cafe meetups from the past years and tagged everyone. I could easily reshare the posts.
Maybe you'll remember similar great events and meetups from the past years, and people you met. You can create a new highlight in the past too.
I think I got some work to do with events since 2002 ... ;) Don't feel stressed to add everything, there's no prize to win. Close your eyes and think of the most memorable moments, and start by adding them.
Mentoring and learning
Sometimes users ask how I became successful in the way I am doing, and how I got into tech (the 486 Turbo boost story, see highlighted podcast below). Podcast introductions can easily get 15 minutes long, as I love sharing ideas, struggles, changes, experiences to help listeners and readers. (and I love to talk ;))
With all my activities, it is hard to become an active mentor for everyone. One way of engaging and learning together is the #EveryoneCanContribute cafe meetup, live and sync.
Another way can be to follow my path and scroll my Polywork timeline, back to 2002, stopping in 2009, moving to 2012, 2019, and learning my path, excitements, and mistakes on the way. You can also access my resources directly, as they are all linked - free workshops, talks, videos, blog posts, and much more. Maybe they'll inspire others to follow and do the same, leveling up their knowledge and expertise. :)
Ideas for Developer Relations KPIs
Impressions are countable numbers and look great in a chart. They don't provide insight into the indirect impact, nor the time investment required. If we have a platform where we log our activities as the single source of truth, one can analyze more metrics.
Polywork shows your collaborators on your profile, a number, and a list you can be proud of and show to everyone asking for KPIs.
A number of collaborations and connections per quarter can be a first experimental PI. Another metric is to measure badge usage after introducing it for your projects and products and get better insights on Dev activities in general. See how the community grows over time by filtering for specific badges and activities.
Generated lists for the DevRel team members, filtered by badges and activities can help build a general dashboard for reports and website integration. Polywork needs a public API for clients to make that happen. :)
Manually logging an update is time-consuming. Adding multiple data sources like Twitter, LinkedIn, Git*, etc., and proposing highlights automatically sounds like a great idea to wish for. Polywork can learn from your activities, and become your friend suggesting the highlights you would otherwise miss. Maybe we'll end up building a web crawler that finds your name/profile and suggests a YouTube video upload as a new Polywork update? Let's see :)
You can find more tips on getting started with your Polywork profile in my earlier blog post.
If you'll need an invite, you can use your VIP code 🤗
See you in the multiverse - share how you are using Polywork in your timeline!
Edit 2022-01-21: Shared this blog post as a new Polywork highlight 💜