When A Developer Does Not Understand What API Evangelist Is

I do not expect everyone to immediately know who I am, and fully understand my mission behind API Evangelist. However I do find it interesting when people have entirely skewed views of who I am, what I do, and then after they meet me, make a 180 degree shift in their perception of API Evangelist.

This post is about one recent encounter I had with a developer at an event. This very nice developer has worked in the API sector for a while, and is very knowledgeable about APIs, and is very aware of who I am, and my presence as the API evangelist, either from co-workers, or the larger web. When I first talked to him in a larger group, someone said do you know Kin? To which they replied yes, they were aware of who I was, but never met me, and didn't seem very interested in a deeper introduction or conversation. They had clearly made up their mind who I was, and what it is that I do, and sent out tones that I was not much more than a blogger. This doesn't happen all the time, but regularly enough that I feel compelled to write about it.

Spanning a couple of days this developer was in various group conversation I participated in, and at no point did they seem interested in engaging me, acting very disinterested, and walking away several times. Now I really have no way of knowing how they felt, or if there is something at play, but I've experienced enough to know these developers are really smart, and often times feel what I do isn't technical enough to rise to the occasion—I know this because many developers have told me this flat out, but in this particular case that hadn't happened.

What did happen is after about 7 of these types of engagement, this developer heard me talking about my vision around the Oracle vs. Google case, and my larger vision about API discovery across the Internet, and at some point during this conversation their energy towards me shifted entirely and became much friendlier, and engaging. After this conversation, they sought me out for further conversations, followed me on Twitter and worked really hard to initiate discussion with me in several other areas.

The message here is that you really shouldn't make assumptions about people in the space until you've done your homework, or quite possibly met them in person. This is something that I think developers are very poor at. I experience this online regularly, and offline less frequently. Someone lands on my site, reads one posts, maybe two, and makes some pretty radical assumptions about who I am, and what I do based upon this limited understanding. I can see how my title of “API Evangelist” might seem superficial to the untrained eye, but once you get to know me you will understand how passionate I am about APIs, something I hope will be contagious, or at least help you understand more about me, and my cause.