🔗 Give everything a URL
Projects, writings, ideas, notes, you name it
One of my old professors used to tell me that everything you do or create in your professional life should have a URL. This way:
You have proof of what you’ve done
You can remember the details years down the line
You have something to send people if they want to learn more about your experiences (this is my canonical “double-click” on one of my past projects)
Even if the project isn’t successful, at least you can salvage a useful piece of knowledge out of it (here’s a post I made out of a gov-tech project that I half-finished)
The way my professor put his advice into practice was by creating a blog where he hosted information about our projects. What would otherwise have been a class deliverable that became useless and forgotten as soon as I was done the class instead became a reusable “feather in my cap” that can still do productive work for me today, such as by showing my work and study experience.
Putting it in practice
A few examples of things that don’t often get a URL but should:
If you attend a cool talk, the notes in your notebook are probably valuable to others (and your future self), yet if they languish in your notebook, they aren’t doing any useful work for anyone.
Interesting “hot takes” you talk to your friends about at parties are easy to forget and can’t be spread outside your immediate social circle. You can Tweet about them, of course, and they’ll get a URL, but since Twitter is an endless feed of posts, those ideas can be hard to find years down the line. (This is why I’m making this blog rather than doing a bunch of Twitter threads.)
Frameworks or ideas you draw on a whiteboard or (especially in my case) sketch on a piece of paper and upload to your various Slacks and Discords are hard to find later and, again, not useful to anyone outside your social groups.
For students: a lot of the things you’ll write or create in school, from essays to group projects, will normally fade into nothingness once you’re done the class. Turning essays into blog posts, coding projects into GitHub repos, etc. will ensure they stay useful.
The medium could be anything — I think blog posts are great because they can encode, or at least talk about, any type of media, but specialized media like YouTube for videos or GitHub repos for code work too. The main requirement is just that you have to be able to quickly pull up the URL from your browser history or a Google search. If you’re at a party telling someone about this thing you worked on or this idea you had, can you pull it up on your phone in 30 seconds?
If you work at a big company, the same rule can apply. Every proposal, every project status update, every definition of key terms, every documentation of process, etc etc can and should be written down and shared on the internal network. Back when I used to work as a PM in big tech, I became somewhat notorious for showering new team members with a cascade of a dozen-plus documents related to the project they were joining. It was a lot easier than trying to explain everything to them, and it gave them resources they could refer to at their leisure instead of having to ask me. (Looks great when you’re trying to get promoted, too, I guess.)
Giving things URLs is a habit I’m trying to cultivate — there are still plenty of things I’ve learned and done in my past projects that I’ve never told anyone about and therefore can’t reap any benefits from. Consider this blog step one in that direction.