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  • Mark 4:50 pm on October 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , medium   

    Medium as a forum for warring digital elites 

    I thought this was a really interesting observation by Jill Abramson on pg 145 of her Merchants of Truth. What other forums are there?

    The Times ran a definitive investigation of the punishing work culture at Amazon, 23 with grizzly anecdotes about employees crying at their desks and burning out because of the unrelenting pressure to fill orders and grow. Bezos attacked the story as anecdotal and unfair on the open website Medium. Baquet responded, defending the piece. Open digital platforms such as Medium now replaced the private conversations and postpublication confrontations that used to take place in editors’ offices. The court of public opinion was all that mattered, not private, ongoing relationships between companies and the journalists covering them.

  • Mark 5:06 pm on March 21, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , medium, , ,   

    What are ‘working papers’ for when we have social media? 

    I’ve always had an odd fascination with working papers. I like seeing ‘ideas in motion’ and I often suspect that much of value gets chipped away through the disciplinary process of peer review that I (reluctantly) recognise is a necessary feature of our intellectual landscape. However simply publishing a PDF on a university website doesn’t quite do justice to the opportunities now available

    The LSE Inequalities Institute publish working papers on a Medium blog, as well as providing a PDF version with full appendices. I’m instinctively drawn to this idea but it raises an obvious question: how does a working paper differ from a blog post? It could be a matter of intended audience, writing style or length of the piece. But it’s important to consider this when social media is ubiquitous, both within the academy and amongst many of the potential audiences for social scientific research outside of it. This is particularly pertinent for a project at the LSE given the continued presence of the Public Policy Group blogs there, encompassing a wide range of sites with a well established readership outside the academy.

    However if the point of working papers is to generate productive discussion then I think they could serve a clear purpose while utilising social media. This is why using a Medium blog to publish working papers appeals to me so much. The annotation, sharing and conversation tools built into the platform are fantastic, though perhaps rather unevenly utilised. In view of these, the formality of a working paper relative to a blog post seems like a virtue rather than an anachronism: it provides lots for an engaged community of readers to get stuck into. There’s a great promise in using Medium to publish working papers but the success or failure of such a project rests on cultivating a dialogue: on Medium itself but also on other platforms through which the paper circulates. One which will, hopefully, feed back into the trajectory of scholarly work which the working paper captures a single moment of.

  • Mark 10:15 am on March 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , medium, ,   

    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.

  • Mark 1:01 pm on December 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , medium, ,   

    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

    • Tim McCormick (@tmccormick) 10:43 am on January 14, 2014 Permalink

      I agree @Medium is quite interesting, especially for rethinking experience from author’s side. On the other hand, I’m bothered by the centralization (vs eg people using diversely hosted & designed/featured blogs and open-source tools), and in particular by its manifesting of the larger. trend away from open comments/conversation.

      I tend to agree with something Mathew Ingram said, “A blog without comments is a soapbox.” (http://bit.ly/1dmftBK). Voices in isolation, not engaged with challenging or divergent views, is a key problem in our whole information environment (from personal to popular to academic, etc., I think).

      Nowadays I see many people accepting the idea that open commenting online is impossible or undesirable, that it inevitably succumbs to abuse. But most comment/forum systems are quite naively implemented and run, making little use of decades of accumulated knowledge we have about how to make them work. Also, there is increasing robustness and steady evolution in systems to implement/integrate commenting at large scale, such as Disqus, LiveFyre, IntenseDebate, and (integratively) Twitter, Google+ etc.

      Recently I’ve been impressed by how well LiveFyre, for example, can now pull in distributed Web/twitter conversations and display on an article. It is connecting me to conversations around my posts which I would never otherwise have known about.

      Extending current comment practices, I propose an #OpenComment model:
      1) allow commenting by Twitter (tweets get auto-associated with the post if they include its URL, are in reply chain of tweet that does, and perhaps by hashtag). This could include tools like Twitlonger that allow longer comments but still link/message via Twitter.
      2) Also allow commenting on-site via Twitter login. Start of or summary of comment gets tweeted, as with Twitlonger.
      3) Comments may be filtered by trust metrics derived from the Twitter accounts, such as account age, follow/follower ratio, tweets/follower ratio).
      4) System could extend to G+ and other soc-media networks, if they support it by API/arrangement, as with case of YouTube switching to G+.

      Commenting today may be often a mess. But another commenting world is possible.

      Tim McCormick
      Palo Alto, California

    • Mark 7:39 pm on January 14, 2014 Permalink

      I think I understand that assumption about open commenting, though I don’t share it. I had to argue recently in favour of open commenting on a shared project. My point was the cultural message being sent by its absence, as opposed to any great loss to the site through the absence of comments. It’s since had very high quality substantive comments and I’ve revised my earlier scepticism!

      I’m quite taken with Disqus btw – thanks for suggesting it for sociologicalimagination.org. I’ll have a look at LiveFyre.

    • Mark 7:39 pm on January 14, 2014 Permalink

      I see what you’re driving at. Could it work though? I’m sceptical but remain open to being persuaded

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