Rekindling my blogging practice: Why I’m part of “The Message” on Medium

When I started blogging in 1997, it was a social practice. It was something that my friend Andrew and I started doing connected to an independent study that we were taking at Brown. As a result, we read each other’s work and talked about it, online and off. My practice evolved over the years as I switched to LiveJournal and then forked my blogging into public and private practices. When blogging was “cool” in the mid-2000s, I was immersed in a blogging community where we were all reading and thinking about each other’s writing. As more and more people caught onto blogging, the practice became professionalized and my blog professionalized alongside that transformation. I still get angry and frustrated (“someone is wrong on the internet!!”) which prompts me to blog rants and essays, but blogging hasn’t really felt social in a long time. And I’ve been sad at how little I’ve written in recent years, especially as I reflect on all sorts of things happening around me.

A few weeks ago, the good folks at Medium came to me with an interesting proposal. They asked if I’d be willing to be a regular contributor to a collection they were putting together. Rather than simply offering me a platform with a large audience, they offered me something else: a small community to blog with. To my delight, that community included all sorts of old friends as well as folks who I don’t know but respect. Members of the group who are much funnier than I am concluded that the collection should be labeled: “The Message: A Pandaemonium Revolver Collection.”

This is an experiment. We’re trying to figure out what it means to incentivize each other in our writing, to spark ideas for each other, and to give feedback to each other as we blog about all sorts of things. For me, this is an opportunity to step back and think about blogging whatever’s on my mind – not just research-driven essays or angry rants, but reflections and commentary and all sorts of other good stuff. Per my agreement with Medium, I will not be reposting here what I blog there until 30 days after the post originally goes up on Medium. But hopefully this arrangement will allow me to start really engaging with the practice of blogging again.

I have just posted my first post: A Dazzling Film About Youth in the Early 20th Century, which is a review of the beautiful and brilliant new film “Teenage” which is currently making its rounds in independent theaters in the United States.

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6 thoughts on “Rekindling my blogging practice: Why I’m part of “The Message” on Medium

  1. Andrea Contino

    Hi danah,
    I’m a colleague of yours from MS Italy.
    As well as a blogger as you are. In a smaller scale as you do I’m interested in blogging and whatever is related to this topic.
    Why do you think an external platform could be better in order to: to incentivize each other in our writing, to spark ideas for each other, and to give feedback to each other as we blog about all sorts of things, as you wrote in the post?
    Isn’t your actual blog enough?


  2. Marc

    Loved the piece on Matt Wolf’s “Teenage”, but…

    What a truly horrible user experience Medium is (especially because the “find something to read” link at the bottom is dead).

    It’s seemingly made to keep people out rather than bring them in, and what’s with all the functions requiring a twitter login? Are there not other ways to follow something (RSS, FB, good old fashioned email etc?).

    Yes, it hits all the 2014 design trends like big fonts, oceans of white space and huge header pics, but at the cost of pretty much all functionality. I know, adding functionality means messing up that delightfully minimalist interface with ugly things like buttons, links and menus… but you know, there’s a reason other sites have those.

    Your piece was lovely, and I would have liked to explore what other writing was on the site, but after some time trying I had to retreat before my head exploded.

  3. zephoria Post author

    Andrea: It’s not about it being an “external” platform per say, as much as it is that the folks at Medium have actively engaged us and provided a way for us to really push each other. I really appreciate that, just as I appreciated the dynamics of LiveJournal being different than the dynamics of WordPress. Posting here on my blog has become a lonely sport, not because people don’t post interesting comments, but because this is just me. And I have no desire to moderate a group of bloggers here.

  4. Andrea Contino

    Thanks for the reply danah. So you mean that, even if asked by Medium, you are going where a much broader audience is in order to give the proper sense to an interaction bloggers/who is commenting, or is just a different way to reach somebody that you won’t reach here?

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