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On DevRel in APAC

I attended my second ever DevRel Summit just last week, and was involved in a greater capacity than last year as I was the MC this time, and also had a fireside-chat style conversation with Thorsten Schaeff, a newly-minted Developer Advocate from Stripe.

The key theme for this year's event was DevRel specific to the APAC region, and when we mean the APAC region, we were referring to Asia rather than Australia. This may be just my limited exposure, but I feel the overall industry is mostly white, and predominantly Western. Even in the DevRel Collective slack, the #apac channel is mostly folks based in Australia, or white folks who moved over to some Asian country.

Which is why I felt this year's DevRel Summit was such a great event. First of all, the scale of the event was small, which allowed all attendees to engage in meaningful conversations with each other and the speakers.

Also, the focus of the content was on the uniqueness of each Asian country, how it is myopic to view Asia as a collective. And almost all the speakers were from an Asian country, which highlighted that fact. One thing that was brought up was also the issue of gender in tech, and even there, we could see how varied the numbers were across countries.

Regardless, I cannot help but think of what Tatiana Mac said in her powerful and poignant talk, How Privilege Defines Performance.

Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance. Justice is letting someone else throw the party.

That it is about trusting others' lived experiences, specifically folks who are part of social groups which have less power than the one you are in. Because so many of us centre their experiences around our own, and end up gaslighting those lived experiences as we cannot fathom them as true.

Trust. Especially for an industry that has the word “Relations” in it. Every one of us has a different lived experience depending on our race, gender, nationality, environment we grew up in and so on. And it is impossible to understand all the different experiences, but that's okay. That's where trust comes in. That's why having a wide spectrum of folks represented is utterly crucial.

It's been an interesting year, with lots of insights and thoughts around this industry. I'm not sure what the future holds, but I do feel that given how relatively young DevRel is, we still have a chance to make sure it is as diverse and vibrant as the people we seek to advocate for.