Why Medium might be pretty great for academics

I just tried using Medium for the first time and I loved it. I suspect I won’t be alone in this. Here’s a few reasons why I think it’s a good fit for academic blogging:

  1. The interface is lovely. It does exactly what it claims to do and adopts an aesthetic which foregrounds what you’re writing. I’ve always seen the appeal in minimalistic interfaces for writing but never quite got to grips with them. There’s something about the Medium interface which really works for me (see screenshot below). It feels like writing in a really nice notebook using an ornate pen, with all the attentiveness this can engender. As opposed to WordPress which, in contrast, feels to me like scribbling for predominately practical purposes. These may be idiosyncratic reactions but I suspect they’re not entirely so. 
  2. The content ecosystem of Medium is setup to preclude the need for regular posting in order to build an audience. Not unlike a multi-author blog, the aggregation of content in one place brings the audience to Medium and users find your article through its submission to a range of curated thematic feeds or through it being ‘recommended’. In other words, articles circulate on their own merits. It’s possible to write very occasionally and yet gain an audience for what you’re written presuming the article itself is interesting and clear.
  3. It has the advantage of guest blogging, in that it avoids the need to build your own audience and blog regularly. But it’s more immediate and I suspect this will really appeal. You don’t have to discuss the idea with the editor. You don’t have to wait for a slot to come up in the posting schedules which most bigger blogs will have. You can self-publish instantaneously but without the need to collate an audience that other platforms impose.
  4. It has interesting metrics, offering stats in terms of views, reads, read ratio and recommendations. I need to look up how it calculates the reads. I suspect it works from time on page (given it automatically generates a ‘read time’ depending on length of the article) but it doesn’t say.

Screen shot 2013-12-21 at 12.50.07

Categories: Digital Sociology, Higher Education

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