Reel Life vs. Real Life: How Software Developers Share Their Daily Life through Vlogs

Software developers are turning to vlogs (video blogs) to share what a day is like to walk in their shoes. Through these vlogs developers share a rich perspective of their technical work as well their personal lives. However, does the type of activities portrayed in vlogs differ from activities developers in the industry perform? Would developers at a software company prefer to show activities to different extents if they were asked to share about their day through vlogs? To answer these questions, we analyzed 130 vlogs by software developers on YouTube and conducted a survey with 335 software developers at a large software company. We found that although vlogs present traditional development activities such as coding and code peripheral activities (11%), they also prominently feature wellness and lifestyle related activities (47.3%) that have not been reflected in previous software engineering literature. We also found that developers at the software company were inclined to share more non-coding tasks (e.g., personal projects, time spent with family and friends, and health) when asked to create a mock-up vlog to promote diversity. These findings demonstrate a shift in our understanding of how software developers are spending their time and find valuable to share publicly. We discuss how vlogs provide a more complete perspective of software development work and serve as a valuable source of data for empirical research.