Let's say you've started to dip your toe into social media. You wanted to increase your visibility, maybe find a greater network of peers to interact with, and you've gotten onto Twitter. So far, so good. You've found interesting people to follow, you've maybe even gained a number of followers yourself and you feel as if you've gotten to grips with this version of being present online in short bursts and joining the wider Twitter conversation. As a result, you've started to become comfortable with putting your opinion out there.
But what if you want to share your opinion in a longer form than possible through a tweet or Facebook message, yet you don't want the time commitment to actually blog regularly or the topic doesn't fit your institutional blog. What do you do then? You have two options, either you convince a friend or colleague to lend you their platform, or you drop your post on Medium.
What is Medium?
Medium is a blogging platform focused more on the writing experience and the individual pieces, and less on creating a platform. It doesn't so much provide you with a place to call your online home, like a blog or website does, but it does provide you with a space to easily and quickly share longer pieces with a broad audience of people. You can easily share your posts across social media and Medium's tagging system and its discovery via recommendation feed allow your posts to be easily found.
How does it work?
So how do you start on Medium? Sign up, start writing. That's it. There is no setting up your blog or organising your space necessary. You sign up, create your profile (including pic, bio and links to other places) and you are ready to go. And if you sign up using your Twitter account, Medium will import your avatar and bio automatically and additionally will also seamlessly port over your Twitter followers and followees who are also on Medium.
The writing process on Medium is easy and its interface intuitive. What you see is what you get and after adding a few well-chosen tags, you hit publish and your post is up. After publication you can submit it to what are called Publications, which are basically curated collections on a specific topic or theme (or perhaps research department), to reach a broader audience.
One of the strongest features of Medium is its robust commenting system. You have two ways to comment. You can add a note in the margin, highlighting the section you want to comment on, or you can post a response. In both cases, your comment becomes its own post on your own profile, so other people can comment on it as well. The commenting in the margin is reminiscent of old-fashioned annotation and could be considered a way to peer review, a little like the open annotation practised at hypothes.is. The responses are reminiscent of Tumblr's reblogs, only instead of reblogging the entire post and added commentary, you reblog the link to the post with your comment.
Have a blog?
Even if you already have an active blog, looking into republishing your best posts on Medium might be interesting. Repurposing your posts for Medium might get your posts in front of an entirely new public, with new interactions and connections, which will help you gain more visibility. But since Medium doesn't let you create an actual website, whether it is smart to use it as your main blog is debatable, with views for and against.
If you're curious about Medium and the sort of academic, scholarly or scientific content you might find there, here are some links to some of the posts in the academia and science tags from the past few months.
- Carly Strasser - Preprints: The Bigger Picture
- Maria Schreiber - Eight things I learned while I tried to snapchat a conference
- Sauvik Das - A Letter To My Younger Self About Dealing With Rejection In Academia
- Sun Wei - What Can You Believe: the worrying rise of academic corruption
- How Democratized Earth Observation Data Can Radically Change Environmental Debates