The appeal of Medium to a young writer

This is vaguely a bastardization of a tech blog, meaning I also read tech blogs. A this brings a lot of arguments against […]1 platform Medium. Most of these arguments deal with the lack of control Medium gives you/ your writing is hosted on someone else’s server/ if Medium goes down so does your writing, you can’t pick the design. I’m personally conflicted about whether Medium is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Because it certainly has its benefits to a young writer like myself.

As a tech nerd/hobbyist semi-freelance web designer, a part of me rejects Medium for the techy tweak-y goodness that comes with a platform like WordPress or Ghost. I love to tweak the CSS to get this sites look to be just right, mess around with plugins and extensions until the site breaks. It’s just a fun time for me. Plus on Medium there’s no Markdown2, which is an essential part of my writing workflow.

Then, of course, there’s the argument on the web that you don’t own your content, which I read is a very important thing on the web. With any self-hosted option3, I own the words that I’m writing. I’m paying for my own domain, my own server. This gives me a level of artistic freedom I can’t really exercise if I’m letting someone else own my words. As the OG blogger Dave Winer says in his post Anywhere But Medium:

People also post to Medium to get more flow. But at what cost? Which pieces get flow? Ones that are critical of Medium? I doubt it. Or offend the politics of the founder? I don’t know. I don’t see a statement of principles, tech startups usually don’t have them. They’re here to dominate and make money off the dominance. I’m very familiar with the thinking, having been immersed in it for decades. […]

Medium also seems to be about just [one piece of writing], rather than just establishing a fanbase for a site or set of creators. Even Anil Dash, in his praise for the site notes this, comparing it to YouTube:

So what does Medium resemble more, with its organization-by-collection, diminished prominence of the creator’s identity, and easy flow between related pieces of content? It’s simple: YouTube. Though some subset of YouTube users subscribe to channels, most of us just graze through the site when someone sends us a funny video, only barely aware of who even posted a video. Medium is evolving to be the same; We get sent an article that someone wants us to read (or in the case of the recent spoiled-startup-boy essays mentioned in Madrigal’s piece, we get sent an article someone wants us to hate), and then hopefully we click around to check out a few more things.

Medium doesn’t (yet?) support the embedding of its content into other sites, which was essential to YouTube’s wide adoption, but in the core experience by which content is created and discovered, Medium is much closer to “YouTube for Longform” than it is “Blogger Revisited”.

This kind of thought works for magazines, which Poritsky argued Medium is, but not for the web. With a blog you want someone to keep reading, to click further and further onto your site, and eventually maybe become a fan. Medium’s single articles aren’t blogs, they’re articles, smashed into the blob of Medium and not really you.


However, a lot of those anti-Medium sentiments are written by old bloggers and writers who have been in this game for a long time and know how to deal their cards right. As a young blogger/writer4, starting out with nothing behind my name of note, there is an obvious appeal to Medium. In Medium, the SEO I have to try to craft is stripped away to nothing else but keywords and a title, and hope that the Medium content curation will make me known. As Ben Brooks says:

AI may be the future of curated content, of finding what matters, but Medium presents a pretty great step towards that right now. That’s why people like to read on Medium.
And it’s also why people like to write on Medium, as it presents a rare opportunity to easily get new readers. To be discovered.
As a writer the hardest thing is to get people to discover your writing. As a reader the hardest thing is to consistently find content you care about. And if you dive into Medium — it will do both for you.

As Poritsky said above, Medium is very similar to a magazine. Sure, it’s got your name and your writing on it but it’s on someone else’s pages. Which gives it obvious appeal. It’s the difference between publishing a high school zine and hoping someone reads it to writing in your local newspaper. Sure with a zine you get creative control over everything, but that includes getting people to read it. Medium is the newspaper young writers need in this day and age to get known, having our names blurred in with the professionals to give us a sense of place, of belonging, as Anil Dash writes:

This [Medium founder Ev Williams having dropped out of university shortly after starting] is the fundamental nature of Medium: it’s meant to be inclusive and egalitarian. In crass terms, it’s arguing that 10,000 monkeys can make a better magazine than Ivy League editors. In the more charitable terms I prefer, it’s arguing that culture is better for amplifying the voices of those whom traditional institutions exclude, even if that requires giving a platform to those who are thoughtless or negative.

Regardless of which tactic is more successful (and fortunately for Chris and Ev, it’s not an either/or scenario), Medium is at least a reinvention of the traditional narrative whereby the tycoons who win at the beginning of a new technological era plow their winnings into buying up captive media to act as a house organ. Carnegies build libraries, yes, but they don’t usually try to give away printing presses.

As an example of Medium’s power as a magazine, just to see how it would go I let my post on living in perpetual Airplane mode on Medium be published in the Mobile Lifestyle publication. It’s now got 32 ‘reads’5, which is probably more than the post on this website has. It’s still my writing, and I can pull it when I want, but being able to see my stuff being read is a great feeling. As Dave said above, this gives me more flow.

Part of the fun of blogging is playing with your CMS. But that’s absent when writing. I write for fun, but at the end of the day when the spelling is checked and the publish button is hit, what you really, really want is someone to read it, link it, criticise it. Anything to know your time writing was worthwhile. Medium shows me this, with reads being more instantly gratifying than looking at the analytics of this site. And inside Medium’s wall, my writing can reach a wider audience than it can on this blog.

This is a very attractive prospect to this young writer.


  1. I use the ellipses because I’m really not sure what Medium is trying to be sometimes. Is it the future of journalism? Just another blogging platform? Magazine 2.0: Get Wired? Perhaps one of the best ways I’ve head it described as is: It is an unholy amalgam of LiveJournal, Slashdot, The Magazine, and the features section of Rolling Stone. Pretty much in that order. Medium is the medium, reflected back through a funhouse mirror, and that’s a good thing. 
  2. Well, kind of no Markdown
  3. What this site is being published with. 
  4. I guess I’m a writer now, I just got my first rejection the other day
  5. Medium places a high value on reads, as they are how you know if someone actually read your post or just instantly clicked back. For some reason, my most read post on there is announcing the Web Development and Design Discord, with 149 reads. 

Expectation vs reality of studying engineering

The expectation of studying engineering is that it is always serious, you are doing very complex calculations in math and physics, no fun, lectures start at 8am and after that, it’s all studying. The reality is that you end up going to a lecture on engineering ethics and in the example of an ethical problem, you are told of “Your boss, Richard ‘Big Dick’ Morrison, cannot be swayed.” Not what I expected.

When are we going to admit we are living in cyberpunk now?

At what point are we gonna wake up, draw the curtains, put our hands on our hips and go “Yep, I’m in living in cyberpunk now.” Not a cyberpunk future, a cyberpunk Now. When an unqualified fascist takes over control of the most powerful country in the world? When a company is trying to sell us Bane’s mask in order to protect our privacy during phone calls, and a denim jacket to make the calls? Perhaps when a man has to flee his country in order to declare the government is spying on us. Maybe when it’s raining constantly? When we don’t even need our own limbs anymore? Or when every city looks like the image I used in the header of this post, of a vast, glowing Akira at night, each tower looking like a data stack on a computer board. One thing I always liked about cyberpunk as an aesthetic is that it was never a far reaching future I will never see, of aliens and spaceships. Cyberpunk was always very real, and it soon will be real.

A timeline of A Day 2 Play 2017

Slight Preface: A Day 2 Play is a competition held by the University of Canterbury Drama Society (Dramasoc) where a small team of five have 24 hours to write, direct, rehearse and perform a 15-minute play. I signed on as a writer (Of course), which meant I had 12 insomnia-inducing hours of writing a script that was 15 minutes in length using what I was given. Although it has been a few weeks since then, here is what I remember of that night.

6 pm: Slightly panic because the bus is late, and wonder if I can get there in time. When I get on, accidentally sit behind the most sickeningly in love couple1. Get there in time, talk to a few people. The people who are supposed to be telling us everything are late. They get there late and we are divided up into teams. I meet the girl who would quickly become a close friend. We are told the rules and given sealed envelopes which contain a prop, a line and a situation we must use.

7 pm: Open the envelopes, where we find out what we have to use:

  • Our line: “Well that could’ve gone worse.

  • Our situation: A very awkward encounter.

  • Our Prop: Eclipse.

… Eclipse? What the hell is that? My mind starts formulating ideas: Could I somehow make a Berserk parody2? And then we find out. Twilight: Eclipse. The terrible book. So, of course, there’s no way we could make a good, serious play with that. Which means that after we are ushered out to our own rooms terrible jokes and scripts are made. It soon became a goal of wondering how much cringe we could fit into 15 minutes.

8 pm: A basic plot idea is established, and then the rest of my team leave me alone to write a basic outline while they get pizza (No objections). I was left with a Surface Pro to work with, and I have to say it wasn’t too bad, although I found the keyboard somewhat uncomfortable for my style of typing. The managers of the event come in and find that I’ve been left alone, which leaves them furious. My team comes back about 50 minutes later, get a talking to about leaving me alone, but then we get pizza and begin to work on our ideas.

We eventually establish our rough plot outline: During Orientation Week at Canterbury University3, a drunken student finds a sheet of paper with Eclipse, and thinking that it is a massive party sets out on a quest to find just exactly where Eclipse is. Turns out it is just a book signing of the new book by Stephanie Meyer (Who ended up being played by me… somehow. Which was also slightly meta because I was the writer of this play who sets the protagonist off on her quest and the writer in the play who sets the protagonist on her quest.).

9 pm: I begin to head home. End up nearly going the wrong way. I see some guy walking in full black across a field and all I can think of is “Not today.”, before turning around. Get on the bus and miss my stop because I was so lost in thought thinking what the hell I’m gonna write in about ten hours. One of them being some narrative in which the main character is given a bag for some reason (Which I later worked into the storyline). Get home and have dinner, talk to my friends for a bit, see that everyone’s drinking, make some coffee, retreat to my room, open a new Scrivener screenplay project just for the play and get to working on it. Get significant anxiety as to how I’ll be actually able to finish this script in time. Wash it down with copious amounts of coffee and lemonade.

10 pm: Get a Facebook Messenger call from the other guys in my team on some of the other ideas. One of them being the introduction of some conflict: An ex-boyfriend policeman character for the main characters lover person.

11 pm – 2 am: Writing haze as I get everything set up right. Ignore the ex-boyfriend character for now because I’m not sure how to slot him in.

3 am: Not feeling tired because I made sure not to wake up until 1 pm, and I’ve drunk plenty of coffee in the meantime. Figure out how to fit the ex-boyfriend character in: make him arrest the main character for ‘littering’ a hair outside a hospital. As the whole play had some Twilight themed characters ( the main character was Edward, the lover was Isabella, the ex was Jacob) I made it that he thought he was a wolf. It’s the kinda stuff you get at 3 am when you’re caffeinated and stressed. Feel for the first time that I might actually get this script done in time and of an appropriate length.

4 am: Finish off the first draft of the script, title it, put the synopsis, characters and settings in, send it to everyone else, relax on Lainchan.

5 am: The others wake up and start giving me their criticism feedback on what I’ve written, which I fix up. Reorder scenes to make it make sense, and rename some of the characters.

6 am: Finish the script, send it off, turn the lights off and go to sleep. Well, watch a few videos on my phone first.

7 am: Finally fall into a blissful sleep.


1 pm: Wake up, have a shower, have breakfast.

2 pm: Leave half an hour later than I should, only to return because I need to grab some clothes that we can use in the stage play.

3 pm: Finally get on the bus, wonder just how much the idiots other people in my team had ruined adapted my script. Get there at 3:30, walk through the rain. Learn that while I was sleeping they established the characters: An Indian guy will play a Soviet Russian professor, the only girl will play the lead, the guy with the deepest voice will play the girlfriend of the lead, and one guy will play four different characters. Apparently, they loved my little bit about the wolf. I’m told I’ll be Stephanie Meyer, and I’m put in a flowing pink skirt (Over my jeans).

4 pm: Rehearse, rehearse, revise, rehearse. Send a fixed version of the script off. Told I’ll be the sound manager, which was slightly terrifying at first but it soon mellowed out once I found how easy and short each song was.

7 pm: Get there, get ready. Buy a coke and talk to the other groups to see just what they’re doing. Get setup on stage and do a few practice twirls in my skirt to see what it’s like (This is important).

7:15 pm: Watch the first groups play, it’s nothing special.

7:45 pm We’re up. It’s going time. I manage the sound while I see just how much cringe they can perform. Sounds easy enough to do, just gotta watch for the cues. One of the managers of the event is just cringing and looking at his phone, the other one is just laughing so hard, telling me how solid a writer I am. When it’s finally time to enter the stage I do the perfect twirl, a little laugh. Fortunately, I have no speaking lines, and the biggest thing I did was give the finger as I walked off stage.

8:15 pm: I’m fairly confident that we did better than the last guys, but then the other group step up and absolutely floor us, which I suspect is that they never even pretend the fourth wall existed in first place. I resigned to defeat in face of how well written their play is.

8:45 pm: Winners are announced, our director wins the best director but mostly for his terribly excellent Russian accent. Of course, the last team won for their excellent play. I talk a little with the winners, especially the writer.

9 pm: I get home, have dinner, and go to sleep early because I thought I had a math test the next day. Turns out I didn’t.


Looking back on this event, it was fun as hell. I may have lost, but given what I was working with (Eclipse book) and that this was the first stage play I had ever written, I am quite happy with the result. I made people laugh, cringe, and all around have a good time. It’s the most I can do with what I was given.

Here’s the cringe if you want to read it.


  1. Randomly kissing each other, hugging, resting their heads in each other’s laps. 
  2. For my own writings on Berserk, see my editorial on Dragonslayer and my recently published post on why Griffith has good character traits
  3. Which is filled with a lot of partying and very little study (Perfect way to get university students in the study mood.) Events this year included: Toga party, Mardi Gra’s, hypnotists, and a foam party. 

Photography hack: Use your sunglasses as an irl filter

Last Christmas I asked for a pair of aviators. Cheap ones, just so I could see if I liked them enough.  I’ve never been a sunglasses person, but I’ve always found aviators appealing since my Fallout: New Vegas days. I can’t really explain exactly why I like them, except they’re big and classical looking1. I wasn’t sure about them at first on the drive to the family Christmas party. Everything just seemed too dark.

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Todo: Write an article about Todoist


Further proof that I’m getting closer and closer to proper adulting is the fact I have now started using the excellent Todoist to keep track of what I need to do. I thought using my phones calendar was worse enough, but this really tips it. I now on my first steps to being a professional adulterer1.

As to why I stared using Todoist, it wasn’t out of a matter of necessity but rather an act of design. A week or so before Christmas I was awake redesigning my phone home screen2, and to get inspiration for what my home screen might look like going into 2017 I was looking at what other techbloggers I admire had for theirs.

Most of them had a todo app of some kind on their home screen. Which made sense. Most of them were men in their 30’s and 40’s, they needed to remember what things they had to do. But myself, a young virile man wouldn’t dare think of that… Except I had used my phones calendar increasingly often to remember basic stuff that I needed to do. So I cleared some space on my phone and downloaded the first todo app I found for Android, Todoist. I spent the rest of the night installing Todoist on every device I owned to get an idea on how to use it3.

I started off rather foolishly just setting myself a bunch of daily recurring tasks… completely ignoring the fact that I don’t work that way. If I have to set myself a reminder to do it everyday, I’m probably not as committed enough to do it, even with reminders. Now, I’ve started adding reminders as I need to remember them.  For example, remember to finally write about Todoist so you can add to the millions of voices also cheering about Todoist. Or that I need to install a useful extension for this site. Stuff I actually need to remember to do, not stuff I should already remember to do.

The design of the app is appealing and usable without any  manuals, a clear sign of good design. I can see why Khoi Vinh loves the app so much, not only is it good but it’s design is flawless.

So far it has been a good app to me. I just wish I could bloody tell the app my day usually ends at 4am.


  1. Wait… 
  2. Because that’s a thing I do for fun. 
  3. Although as you can see from the above screenshot… I still have no idea.