I’m sure many of you will agree, but I found myself nodding my head continuously throughout Jeff’s lecture on Thursday about the importance of pre-writing. Reflecting on my experience as a writer, it’s a practice, hobby, and fixation that’s very start-and-stop for me. The deeper I get into this program (and design in general), the more I tend to think of “writing” as a single activity, without demarcation between “academic” and “non-academic.”

Now, I don’t mean that all my writing sounds the same, or is entirely directed at one type of audience, but rather that the process of constructing an overarching argument, and transitioning between supporting evidence of that argument is something that I’m starting to see everywhere now. Jeff told us that like many creative endeavors (including design!), writing involves making an argument, and then being able to rationalize that argument in a convincing way to the audience you choose.

This is why I love Medium.

Whether its armchair military aficionados talking about the history of battlecarriers, to first-hand accounts of elaborate tech heists, or one man’s experience with a viral fitness craze, Medium I believe is slowly changing the experience of what it means to write online. And beyond the content that Medium plays host, the claims and arguments of those writing through the service, a second argument is being made, through the design of Medium itself. In their welcoming manifesto (itself a post on the service, free and open to commentary like any other), the creators position themselves in the crowded space of content management systems:

We think great ideas can come from anywhere and should compete on their own merits. On Medium, you can contribute often or just once in a blue moon, without the commitment of a blog. And either way, you’re publishing into a thriving, pulsing network — not a standalone web site, which you alone are responsible for keeping alive.

There are clear arguments being made here: about the democratization (and meritocracy) of ideas, a critique of current content management solutions (one of which, Blogger, the founders of Medium actually started), and the very real struggle of finding a voice and audience in an endless sea of content online. The service aims to harbor all sorts of writers: from your regular, clockwork scriveners to your once-a-year manifesto makers, and provide them with the one key aspect in my mind that is the key component for great writing and interesting reading: an engaged and active readership. From the no-frills publishing platform (no type tools, and minimal formatting controls) to the in-line contextual commenting system, Medium’s argument for a horizontal reading and writing structure runs throughout.

Granted, not all of the content is top-calibre, and abuse of the system certainly does happen, but their efforts set a precedent for what writing online could be. A place to capture ideas, polish them, and share them with the world with minimal distraction. And the stories that emerge have the potential to shine on their own merit, free of external advertisement or endorsement, and any debate that emerges is forced into contextuality through citation of a particular passage or paragraph.

These claims are not accidental; they are a result of a concerted effort, a designerly demonstration of intent, to implement and change the well-worn patterns of blogging into something with greater emotional agency. It is designs like these that for me link together aspects of this course into a real-world context; it allows me to look upon a service I like and understand why I like it. It’s what I think puts the culture in Interaction Culture, that larger scope and set of lenses that reshapes the world around us, and makes the practice of UX so satisfying.

Advertisements