Introducing Snippets

April 26, 2020

The Problem

I am a huge fan of pens and stationary, and in that world, there are few people more in touch with the community than Brad Dowdy. A few months ago (at the time of writing), Brad started posting "analog downloads" on his Instagram account. These posts are almost-daily handwritten notecards that show his train of thought on any given day, as well as the writing utensil he's using to write the card.

I, for one, love that idea. By writing these short "analog downloads," Brad increases his recall of the day's events and gives back to his community by sharing his daily experiences and discoveries about the pen world. More and more lately, I've been wanting to do the same thing.

So I stole Brad's idea. Kind of.

The Plan

Up to this point, most of my "train-of-thought" notes only went on Twitter. Twitter is a fantastic platform for quickly sharing thoughts, but I kept bumping into the same issue. If I wrote up a solution to a problem on Twitter, it pretty quickly disappears into the abyss of my Twitter timeline. And once that tweet is gone, I have to spend more and more time trying to find that tweet as time goes on. On top of that, I'd like to have full ownership over what I write, just in case something happens to Twitter.

Since Twitter wasn't going to work long-term, I needed to find another solution. Posting images of the notes I took every day wasn't really an option since a lot of the information that I'd be storing is copy/paste material. Full blog posts weren't an option either since most of these bits of information aren't worth sitting down to write an entire post. But I did have a secret project up my sleeve that had the potential to make this whole system work--I was in the process of redesigning my website.

The Solution

Introducing Snippets!

If you've spent a bit of time in the programming community, you likely have an association with snippets already. For those who don't already know, in programming, snippets are traditionally little bites of code that perform a specific action. Some organizations call snippets by another name (GitHub calls them "gists"), but the idea is always the same.

Just like storing snippets of code in something like GitHub, I'll be storing my own information snippets on my website. That way, if I ever need to look back at something I've quickly written down, I don't have to scroll back through hundreds of tweets just to find it! Also, it gives people who land on my website the option of learning something from my snippets, giving me one more way that I can give back to the community that gives me so much.

To be fair, creating snippets is nowhere near as quick as firing off a tweet. The deployment pipeline that I use to build and release new versions of my website helps with that, though. Just like writing a tweet, I can get the thought written down almost immediately, and once I've done that, the pipeline takes care of pushing it out to the world. It's nowhere near a perfect system, but before I take time improving it, I need to see if this is a viable way to quickly jot down my thoughts and discoveries.

How very "agile MVP" of me, right?

The Question

So what do you think? Do you keep track of your daily thoughts and discoveries? If you do, how do YOU keep track of them all? Hit me up on Twitter (ha), and let's figure out the best way to do this.

The Links

Curious about things I've talked about in this post? Check out these links for more information:

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