Giving Medium a shot at living up to user expectations

Why Medium makes it to my daily reading list

Nick DeNardis Medium profile
My Medium profile

Last year I purged as many incoming requests for my attention as possible. Medium has become something I’ve adopted, enjoy and think it’s worth giving it a shot to stick around.

Video games or watching too many movies wasn’t the problem, to be honest I’ve never done much of either. It was the little things that stole my attention without even realizing it. The small things that I did habitually on a daily, hours or immediate basis that forced me to become deliberate about my time.

Things I’ve purged checking daily

  • Instagram, Twitter, Facebook timelines
  • HTML email newsletters
  • Push notification for basically anything on my phone

Things that have stood the test of time

  • Email marked as Primary
  • Nuzzle email digest
  • Quora email digest
  • Medium digest
  • Podcasts while driving/running

Medium is for stories, how to’s and personality

Personal stories, interviews and experiences define how opinions are shaped and Medium sets the perfect environment for these stories.

I’ve tried Pocket, Instapaper, and various other tools to strip away the cruft from sites to create the ideal reading environment. Medium accomplishes this without requiring me to leave the site.

Content curation on the Medium homepage and email have been spot on and they promise to make it better. For me it’s the combination of recommendations by friends, popular items from topics I follow and a few off the wall stories that I wouldn’t have searched out myself. This mix has made it feel far less like typical sites that focus on a descending list of popular articles, but more like a personalized newsletter.

Writing/cross promoting content on Medium

Many OG blogger, including myself, believe my content isn’t safe long term on Medium. They are profiting from me and if they shut down tomorrow all my content and following go *poof* without a way to redirect.

I still maintain my own domain, blog, and email list for content ownership but like others, attention and discovery are slim. The few articles I have posted to Medium include the standard “Originally posted at…” final line to let people know I am more than Medium articles.

This fear is something that Medium should embrace, it means people are putting hard work into the content they produce here. They don’t consider it throw away content and are conscious about their investment.

Hope for the future

I have hope that Medium will do the right thing and embrace content creators and consumers genuinely to squash these fears. I’m giving Medium a chance to succeed and you should too. It will be pretty clear in a few months with how many people vote with their feet (dollars).

No vember Movember

It all started in the Hilton upper lobby at ~2 am during some night at #HighEdWeb a few weeks ago. @Cliffyballgame randomly asked me to join his Movember team. I had thought about doing Movember for the past few years but always had something going on that required me not to look like a total hipster or lumberjack. But this year is different, this November I don’t have a single speaking engagement, no travel and no formal anything other than Thanksgiving with the family.

I only shave once a week anyways, it won’t be hard to skip four times. So I thought why stop at not shaving?

Here are a few things that I won’t be doing in November:

  • Shaving (of course). Going full on lumberjack style.
  • Buying lunch (who eats multiple meals a day anyway?)
  • Drinking pop (easy)
  • Buying basically anything (unless something breaks..)
  • Go a day without publishing something online

Ok. The list is a little shorter than I felt in my head but every one of those is going to take some restraint and dedication.

Anyways.. Let’s do this November!

Unintentional stop motion video of my life

Life happens; and like most people I take a lot of photos to remember it. My phone automatically uploads photos via Dropbox (shameless referral link), for both immediate access and to ensure all my data is in at least two spots at all times (habit from my life as a developer). As my phone and Dropbox get full I batch import the photos in to iPhoto for long term storage.

By far my favorite part of this process is watching the photos preview as they import. I tend to burst take photos and pick the best one to share at the time, but I never delete the blurry, crooked or duplicate shots. The side effect of this is a stop motion video of what I’ve been up to as the photos are importing.

As I started the process today it made me relive the memories and in itself was bringing back all the emotions of the events. I wanted to capture this so I could replay it later, after a few hundred photos I started recording my screen and the process (really wish I started at the beginning, oh well).

I’ve created stop motion videos before and there is typically a standard stop length in between each photo. With this import process though the files are being transferred at the same time so the time delay based on file size. This creates a really cool effect of stops and bursts through the photos. Really wish iPhoto had a way to reproduce this effect without going through the import process.

2,500 photos later this video of my life over the last few months was produced:

It may be a little meta but the memory of the memories really makes me appreciate everyone and everything around me. And now it makes me want to take more photos.

(15 minutes is a long time to sit through a video without sound, I don’t blame you if you bail) 😛

2012 New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Write a book
  2. Give an ignite talk
  3. Publish something 6 days a week
  4. Finish my office (floor, walls, desk, bookshelves)
  5. Truly learn Ruby on Rails or Python
  6. Beat my previous marathon time
  7. Grow EDU Snippits to a 1000+ visitor per week website
  8. Run a hackathon at Wayne State University
  9. Take public transportation to work at least once
  10. Be the best possible influence to Cecilia DeNardis

2011 Resolutions (3 success, 7 fail)

  1. FAIL: Learn sign language
    • Just basically no time. Taking this off my list
  2. FAIL: Write a book
    • Grad School totally got in the way of this one
  3. SEMI SUCCESS: Be a motivator in and outside of work
    • No concrete evidence but I feel like I have been a motivator
  4. FAIL: Stick to a schedule of once every two weeks posting to .eduGuru
  5. FAIL: Finish my office (Floor, Walls, Desk, Bookshelves)
  6. FAIL: Truly learn Ruby on Rails or Python
  7. SEMI SUCCESS: Contribute to an open source project
  8. SEMI FAIL: No longer order meat
    • Started out great for the first six months. I still eat meat, just not much at all
  9. SUCCESS: Run a marathon
  10. FAIL: Take public transportation to work at least once
    • No excuse why I didn’t get this one done

2010 Resolutions Post

2009 Resolutions Post

The #NewNewTwitter in screenshots, my thoughts

Interested in the #NewNewTwitter? I was totally bummed by their “rolling out the redesigned Twitter over the next few weeks” and realization that it could be weeks before I could play with the desktop version. I have been following their changes for some time. By chance I tried their trick of updating my mobile app and what do you know, within a few hours I got the #NewNewTwitter on my desktop.

Playing around with it a bit I found some things I really like and others that I’m not a fan of. I break them down below.

Timeline

Actually pretty clean and I love the inline conversation view. Not a fan of having to click three times to get photos to appear large though. It took me a minute to figure out that there is “Compose a new Tweet…” input on the left side right under my user information, I actually find this quicker.

@Connect

They did a great job taking the information overload of the “Activity” tab and bringing some sanity to it. I found that the “Activity” is now located in the #Discover area, not gone, just placed with the “not exactly related to me” stuff.

Conversations

Clicking on a tweet brings up the conversation inline. I like this because the three column sidebar before just wasn’t enough room, especially if you didn’t have a high resolution monitor. I wish it brought up the entire conversation though, not just the replied to and replied tweets.

Lists

Again the interface took another hit against lists. This time they tucked them away under the User icon -> Lists. At least this time you can get to them all on one page instead of only seeing half and having to click another link to get to the full list in the #NewTwitter interface.

List Timeline

I really like the list timeline because it acts like the regular timeline. But my biggest complaint is the lack of context around what you’re looking at. I feel like this page needs a header or breadcrumbs or something to identify the list. Maybe it’s just me but the top left of the page feels too much like a user profile.

Direct Messages

If you use DM’s at all you already know they took a huge UI hit in the mobile interface and now it is confirmed they are equally as hidden in the web interface. Hidden behind two clicks, Profile -> Direct Messages. As you can see from the shot below they don’t even get a full timeline view. It’s a shame.

DM Conversations

Clicking in to a DM conversation the window doesn’t expand and space is pretty limited. For me this just isn’t enough room, I would prefer if more of the conversation was in view or at least you could resize the window. The style of the conversation is very nice, just wish it wasn’t squeezed in a tiny window.

The Little Things

When focusing on the search box all your saves searches come up below. This is a nice change from the drop down menu in the older interface. It puts the search in the same context as the user’s action.

As you move through your timeline and click to view and open photos/videos/conversations the tweets start to space out. As soon as you open a tweet they offer a nice little “Close all open Tweets” button at the top of the page. Nice little big detail.

Final Thoughts

Don’t get me wrong, I really do like the direction Twitter is going with the increased emphasis on conversations but I just can’t get past their continued hate toward Lists and now Direct Messages. By trying to pull in new users to explore they are excluding the seasoned users, but I guess that is what the Tweetdeck redesign is for.

Do you have the #NewNewTwitter yet? If so, what do you think?