by Jason St-Cyr
September 21, 2021
A member of the DevRel community first made me aware of Polywork in early 2021. I decided that for me I wanted to use it as a way to track a timeline of all the things I do on various platforms: making videos, writing articles, speaking at events, career changes, mentoring. There were a few steps I figured out along the way, so in this article are the details of how I built out https://timeline.jasonstcyr.com
The profile and badges
The profile is pretty straightforward: what name do you want to show, pronouns, location, and a headline.
- First and Last name: I didn’t mind using my real first name and last name because I use it on all my social platforms, but you may want to make sure you are only sharing what you are comfortable with here as it will display publicly.
- Pronouns: I really liked that they make pronouns a first-class element of the profile. I tend to have to embed it in a description on most other platforms.
- Location: I tend to try to keep my location a little generic, you may not want to specify it at all, depending on your privacy comfort level.
- Headline: I keep this blank and it displays my current job title in that spot, but you can use this to put something consistent regardless of what your current position is (or if you just like being “Wrangler of Cats” or something fun).
Badges are fun, and you can make your own. I was torn at first whether to go with a few very specific ones that covered my focus areas, or whether to blanket it with as many that applied. In the end, I wound up selecting a lot and then selecting a few to put near the top of the list so they would display on the page without needing somebody to expand to get an idea of what I do.
Listing your work history
It can be tempting to put in your entire work history in the positions listing, like a replacement for LinkedIn. While you CAN do that, I was aiming to build out a timeline of activity rather than a job profile, so I wanted this listing to be more relevant to what I’ve been doing in the last few years. I only added the positions I’ve had while that content has been created.
If you are doing something similar and trying to build a timeline of those activities, you can build out your positions as you fill out the data going back through your history.
Highlighting the past
I believe this is the real superpower of this platform . Almost all social platforms are about engaging you now and in the future. You post your thought “now” and other people see what you are thinking as time rolls on. Did something two years ago? No way to backdate.
Polywork is different. Polywork allows you to post to any specific date you want. You can build out a complete timeline, just the way you want, showcasing what you did and when.
When you hit the “Highlight” button, it will default to today’s date, but you can change it. I’ve gone as far back as 2015 so far, as I find time to add things.
And that is really where the tricky part of building your timeline comes in: how much time do you have? There is no batch entry, no importing from other platforms, it is all one-by-one curated entries. You also can’t type in a date, you have to manually select it and navigate to the right year and month and day. Over the summer, I spent some time doing one a day and that helped get me built out fairly well, but I still haven’t captured everything. The UX here allows you to do this past entry, but clearly is trying to drive you more towards posting current information.
Creating an entry on your timeline using a Highlight
For my purpose, I wanted it to have some basic elements in a timeline entry:
- Brief description
- Link to “the thing”
- Rich media as you scroll the timeline.
The Highlight editor allows for this fairly well, with the bonus addition of “Activity tags” which allows people to easily see what type of thing you were doing.
Here’s how I create my entries:
- Title: For the first line of the highlight, I put in the title of the video or blog or presentation, and then I use the “Title” button in the rich text editor of the dialog to give this a heading styling.
- Brief description: I try to make sure I capture the essence of the content. If I’m rushed, and it’s a blog, I grab the first paragraph of the blog and paste it in. If it’s a YouTube video, I grab the YouTube description. Remember, doing historical entries is time-consuming so you want to do this fast.
- Link to “the thing”: You can add a link using the ‘link’ button in the rich text editor. I try to keep things to one link per highlight so that people are not confused as to what action I want them to take.
- Rich media: Like most social platforms, if you add a link to content it will grab the metadata from the target and embed it into your timeline on render. You don’t need to do anything here! Just add the link where you want people to go and the social card will display.
If you want, there is a media button at the bottom where you can upload something, like a photo from an event, or something like that. I might use this more for social posts, or highlights where I don’t have a link to send somebody to.
You can also specify collaborators and the specific position that is tied to something you did. I haven’t used these options much, again trying to make things go faster. For most highlights, I keep it on the ‘personal’ default, even if it was a work thing, because I’m not trying to build out a job portfolio here.