Standing your ground

Two and a half years ago, when I joined my current company I was attending a new hire training and the last slide showed a very long URL to a document that we were suppose to remember for more information.

I asked the presenter whether there is a URL shortener so that we URLs are easy to remember, easy to share verbally and it’s meaningful. The presenter was puzzled and said no.

I researched online and found an open sourced project called YOURLS, asked IT for 2 machines for me to prototyped the solution, launched it and demoed it to my team and emailed an internal list promoting the idea and get feedback.

The feedback was immediate but mostly negative

  • Why do we need this, we have gotten along for now without it
  • It’s insecure and can be used for phishing
  • It’s useless and folks won’t click on it.
  • Is this really your job?

There were a few folks who supported the idea because they used URL shorteners like http://bit.ly/ and said to give me a chance.

I continued to work on the project, demo’ing the http://GO/ URL shortener along with enhancements during our quarterly hack weeks.  I started sending easy to remember URL’s to common thinks like go/food, go/wifi, go/printer, go/tony

Slowly the serviced gain traction and adoption, but very slowly. After about 2 years, I noticed there was some was drastic changes

  • I see posters around the company promoting events and people had a GO link such as GO/printer or GO/security or GO/zoom
  • I see in our chat rooms people sharing links such as GO/projectx or GO/help-whatever
  • Because I talk about the GO links during new hire training, folks also were asked to create a GO/[your name] to their personal homepage

So what did I learn from this experience?

  • For anything that is new and different, it will be a long and difficult journey.
  • Being in a company that allows you to experiment is necessary for this type of work to succeed.
  • If I truly believe a project is good for the company, I should just continue forward without asking for validation
Tony Tam (Li Zhi)

Senior Principal Engineer @ Splunk, ImpactfulEngineer.org & SFBadminton.org