Two weeks ago, I wrote a post about women, tech, and why trains and legos are for girls too. With the trigger of “you don’t look like a geek”, I wrote a mini-festo (get the pun?) on gender-discrimination with toys. A lot of people read it. Friends, strangers… I even got an email from aMountain Guide -to-be (she’ll be the 7th Woman Mountain Guide in Britain, ever!!) who asked me if I’d have time to fix her website up. (I’d love to, we’ve emailed, I can’t wait to have a chat.)
It was an influx of solidarity from women geeks everywhere, who cheered me on, asked for help, and confirmed that they played with gender-agnostic toys too. Men contributed as well. Someone mentioned that the plural of lego is lego… (I suppose they’re right, it is a brand) I was very happy to have people reading something I’d written on the spur of the moment, with passion, and which I believed in.
The week after though… I didn’t know what to write. A random discussion that evening prompted me to write a little about selling oneself, and how keeping a blog can help you do that. For introverts like me, it’s the best way to put yourself out there without stepping out of the house. Except when your blog post is read by a few hundred people when you’re used to maybe a dozen. Then, you get writer’s block and seek refuge on Medium.
You could, I suppose, argue that this is insane. But I have a reason! I _enjoy_ writing on Medium. So this week, I’m writing about my inability to write, on a platform which has grown wildly since I first wrote on it, and which I am very fond of.
What makes Medium so different? What is its USP? (unique selling point) Why would anyone prefer it -or even bother to look at it- compared to other blogging, writing, and reading sites? If I had a penny… You see, I’ve been blogging for more than 15 years… *in the voice of Jeremy Clarkson*: “some say… she doesn’t have anything else to do”…
Here are some of the reasons I think Medium is brilliant, and quite different from anything else out there:
- You can log in with twitter. I use twitter more than email, so having it be my identity broker is pretty handy.
- You can comment on individual paragraphs, so the comment conversations are more topical instead of a long regurgitation and meandering thread of arguments, “well done”s, and “what that guy said 25 comments ago”.
- AND, again on comments. It limits you to 200 characters. More than a tweet, less than a facebook-status-rant-a-thon. Good practice, people, distil your opinions!
- The font. It’s easy to read, it’s clean, it’s perfect, it’s Tisa pro. (yes, I looked at the CSS. Obviously.)
- The image on the left on the home page. For once, a website decided to a) only use a single image per page to decorate, and b) shift the content to the right a bit.
- The nice “M” where the menu hides. So very very tidy. Single action point on the page. Totally “Apple”. Excellent choice!
- The composer. Not kidding. Simple, simple, and, oh my god, so simple! Forcing paragraphs. Forcing simple linear composition in blocks (text, then photo, then text). Only having the formatting options (which should be very optional indeed for any writer) appear in a context menu once text has been selected. And, of course, there is just a blank page to write on. No noise. No banners. No photos. No buttons. Just you and your text. Any real writer will love it.
- The categories / channels. “wtf”, “this happened to me” “better humans”, “Geek empire”, “for the love of food”. Need I say more?
- Oh yeah. And the timing thing. Each article has a “2min read” or “44min read” next to it. So you know how long you’ll have to step away from whatever you’re doing. Oh so handy!
So maybe I did manage to write something. An ode to Medium… on Medium. So do you know what I’m going to do now? I’m going hit “publish”, hope nobody reads it, and copy-paste it onto my own blogvery sheepishly and apologetically for being an entire day late.
Now if only I could get the Medium writing experience (c.f. “The composer” bullet point above) on my WordPress blog… *sigh*
Want to comment on Medium instead? My post on Medium.