Why Medium could change academic blogging

I wrote a few months ago about the potential value of the Medium blogging service for academics. It’s one of a range of new services which are popping up (see Kinja, Svbtle and Ghost) that differ from older platforms in a range of ways. Given the effective hegemony of WordPress, an obvious question is posed by this new generation of blogging services: what’s the point of them?

Three things immediately struck me about Medium when I experimented with it. Firstly, it offers a beautiful and immersive writing experience. Secondly, it  aggregates an audience across the ‘blogs’, if that is indeed an accurate term for what Medium facilitates, massively reducing the need to build an audience which constitutes a barrier to blogging for many academics. Thirdly, it is astonishingly easy to quickly get setup (using a twitter social sign in) and writing, precluding the need to fiddle with design and acquire technical skills in order to ensure the finished posts look visually attractive.

Medium has now added another feature which could be really significant for academic blogging. It’s now possible to embed your posts into another website:

View at Medium.com

I’ve noticed twitter feeds becoming more common on academic websites in the last year or so. Is it much of a stretch to imagine Medium embeds joining them in the not too distant future? It’s a pick-up-and-play platform to write online that is fully integrated with Twitter and requires zero technical skill or tweaking to publish attractive features. It’s far from perfect and, in some ways, it’s intensely limited. But there’s a lot of potential here and it has been launched at a really interesting time in terms of the uptake of social media within higher education.

It also includes interesting curatorial functionality. It’s possible to produce ‘collections’ of medium articles. It’s only a matter of time before a social media savvy academic department or research centre starts embedding medium posts on their website alongside a departmental twitter feed.

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