Tag Archives: Technology

Medium Is Great for Bloggers, Readers, and Humanity, but There Is Some Room for Improvement

Medium is great for humanity, because it acts like a Trojan horse in our smartphones. Smartphones are destroying our attention span.

Short clips, streams of blurbs and pictures are replacing books. In this environment, Medium is providing an alternative to all of that digital candy.

Medium posts aren’t a replacement for a book. Most of us write our posts taking into account the short attention span of online readers.

In either case, Medium posts are much better than most of the digital candy in your pocket. It requires you to stay focused on a piece of content for a few minutes.

Medium is great for readers, because it provides readers with a steady stream of brilliant posts and the opportunity to interact with the writers and other readers.

Medium is great for bloggers, because it provides them with a large audience of readers. Personal blogs have a difficult time building an audience. This has always been the case.

With the introduction of smartphones and apps, the number of blog readers is shrinking even more. In this age, Medium is like an oasis for bloggers.

Medium Stats Teach You Lessons

Once you publish a sufficient amount of posts, you have a decent set of stats. You can use those stats to learn your lessons on blogging and to improve your craft.

Interaction with Readers

The opportunity to interact with the readers is great for the writers. I’ve been blessed with a steady stream of responses to my posts and I’m grateful for that. That feedback is critical for any content provider.

  • Comments indicate that your content is resonating with people.
  • Your readers give you a direction by telling you what they like about your posts.
  • Your readers give you new ideas to write about.

That discussion is valuable for the readers as well. They are able to influence the writers with their feedback. They can ask questions and receive answers. As a result, everybody wins.

Medium Is My Single Source of Traffic

It’s a risk for a blogger to depend on a single source of traffic. When I take into account all the benefits above, I’m willing to take that risk. As a blogger, I’m fine with using Medium as the single source of traffic to my website.

Medium Is Great for Discussions

If you read my post called Is Commenting on Medium a Reliable Strategy to Grow the Audience of Your Blog?, you might think that I changed my mind. I didn’t.

Commenting is great to interact with other writers. It’s just not an efficient way to grow your audience. Actually, I might have found why it isn’t.

A Point of Improvement for Medium

Commenting might not work, because Medium is suppressing some comments. They are probably trying to minimize spam comments this way and it works. Spam is almost non-existent on Medium.

I understand that Medium is hiding some comments, but there’s room for improvement in how Medium processes comments.

Medium Notifications Are Less Than Optimal

As a writer, I expect to receive an email for every comment I receive. That is not the case at the moment. I found that out after finding old comments by chance.

I received some decent comments written by new members. I didn’t receive an email about them. I wasn’t able to clap for them or respond to them. As a result, those comments remained hidden.

New Member Responses Are Not Notified to the Writers

How would you feel about Medium, if you signed up just to comment a post, took your time to write a decent comment, and then, your comment remained hidden and you didn’t receive a response from the writer?

Would you keep using Medium? I believe this practice hurts the new user acquisition number of Medium.

A Better Way to Display Notifications to Writers

You might say that it’s my responsibility to check my notifications and find all of those comments. Unfortunately, with the dozens of notifications I receive every day, Medium’s notifications are useless to me.

In order for them to be useful to me, they have to satisfy the following requirements.

  • They need to be accessible on a separate page of their own like Facebook.
  • I should be able to mark them as read. Now, once they are displayed on the screen, they are marked as read.

Medium iOS App Has the Best Notification Settings

Luckily, I found a workaround to this problem. In the iOS app, there are three options for push notifications for responses.

  • Off
  • Tailored for you
  • Everyone

The default is “tailored for you” and I chose “everyone.” I’ll see how this works out. I’d really like to see the “everyone” option for email notifications.

I’d like to receive an email for every response receive. That would make the task of processing responses much easier. In the meantime, if I missed a comment of you, I apologize.

Conclusion

Medium benefits bloggers, readers, and humanity in different ways. As a writer, I appreciate it so much that I use it as the exclusive source of my traffic.

There is one update I’d like to see on Medium though. That is to receive an email for every response that my posts receive.

I also suggest that Medium handles new user comments with care. Otherwise, they might lose some of those users forever.

Your Turn

If you know a tool that processes Medium notifications and creates to do lists out of them, please let me know in the comments.

Use Tech as an Accelerator, not as an End

When it comes to tools, we are in the best time in the history of mankind. Yet, we are as busy as never before. How come? With all the technology and productivity tools we have, one would think that we would have a lot of spare time, because we would get everything done so fast with our new tools. But it isn’t the case. Why? Because we let technology determine our processes, instead of our processes determine the technology that would accelerate our already existing processes.

This is a lesson that took me more than a decade to learn. Tech can be fun to use and it can be a distraction. I don’t mean the social media or video game apps. They are obvious distractions. I mean the productivity and collaboration apps.

Back in the day, I would come across a new piece of technology and I would fall in love with it. Then I would actively look for ways of how I could use it in my professional and private life. Some examples are Google Buzz, Google Wave, and almost any “productivity” app on my first smartphone. After a decade, I realized that it is backwards thinking.

Technology should come second, not first. Processes should determine the technology, not the other way around. The first step is to have a process that works on paper. The second step is to find or develop the technology to accelerate that procedure.

For example, you can write a note and have an office boy bring it to a colleague. It’s a good process. You can accelerate it by using email. Maybe, you should think about it that way. Would you send this note if an office boy had to bring it to a colleague? If not, maybe you shouldn’t send it in the first place. Worst than that, would you ask the office boy to bring the same note to everybody in your company? If not, maybe you shouldn’t send that email to everybody in your company.

Would you write down all of your random ideas as tasks to your to-do-list, if you maintained it with pen and paper? You wouldn’t. But that is exactly what I did when smartphones and to-do-list apps became available. Maintaining a huge to-do-list gave me a false sense of hard work. In reality, my productivity didn’t improve. Probably, it worsened due to all the noise in my to-do-list.

Would you shout your random thoughts to everybody in your company? Would it be productive if everybody in your company shouted their random ideas around while the rest was trying to work? But that’s exactly what Google Buzz was about. Probably, there are other similar apps in the market now. I don’t know.

Nowadays, I only look for a piece of technology when I know it would accelerate an already existing process. The rest is hype and distraction. I don’t worry about missing an important piece of technology. The useful ones will find me anyway.

Next time you are about to adopt a new piece of technology like a smartwatch, think about how this will accelerate your already existing processes. If you can’t come up with anything, skip it. Ask the same question about your existing devices and apps. If your smartphone is beeping and buzzing all the time without accelerating any of your processes, maybe it’s time to delete all those noisy social media apps and check what’s going on once a day for a few minutes via an old-school browser, if at all.

Mass Destruction of Our Cognitive Abilities

The combination of the Internet and our electronic devices destroyed our attention span so bad that a disaster is waiting us unless we do something about it.

The good news is that people who can take charge of their attention span will have an enormous advantage over others. However, they’ll still have a hard job, because they’ll have to deal with colleagues, customers, friends, and family members whose attention span is already ruined.

How Did We Come Here?

Back in the day, when I was a child in the 1980’s in Turkey, we had a black and white TV, which had a single, state-run, TV channel. Almost none of the programs were interesting to me. On the contrary, they were so boring that I ran away from the living room. I remember my dread, when my dad said we had to switch on the TV and watch the news. That meant I got to be bored out of my mind. I didn’t get why we had to watch the news every day.

As a child, if I was to be entertained, it was up to my imagination and the imagination of my friends and family members. I always had a good time back then. I always found something to satisfy my curiosity. I used to dismantle my toys and see what’s inside them and how they were built. I used to listen to the real life stories of my grandfather. Sometimes, I used to play with other children. However, sitting in front of a screen and looking at it aimlessly was never an option. That would bore the hell out of me with a single, state-run, TV channel.

Then something interesting happened, Turkey became more and more advanced. A second state-run TV channel got started. A few other state-run TV channels followed it. Even though it was illegal at the time, private TV and radio channels got popped up. By the time, I started junior high, it was possible to get entertained 24/7 by a number of attention-grabbing TV and radio channels.

When I got to the college, MTV and similar TV stations started to broadcasted in Turkey. That meant the length of the average program was reduced from an hour to three minutes. And so did our attention span. I could stay up until 3 am by watching those three minute clips telling myself that I’m going to go to bed at the end of the next one.

With the introduction of the Internet, our attention span got further ruined. The mobile devices with fast scrolling features such as smartphones and tablets wiped out our attention span almost completely.

The Destruction of Our Brains

Next time, you open an app like Facebook on your mobile device, observe yourself carefully. How much attention do you pay to a post on average? You just scroll down the screen. If you see something interesting, you spend a few seconds on it, and you continue scrolling. Your attention span is literally reduced to a few seconds.

I remember an instance which was an eye-opener for me. A real human being was giving a live lecture on Facebook, I clicked it to watch it. After a few seconds, I noticed a more interesting video down the line and I clicked it. There was a real human trying to transform their knowledge to me for free, in real time, and I did not have the attention span to watch it and clicked away to a stupid, funny video, that Facebook recommended to me.

I’m not blaming Facebook here. Every other app on your mobile device is trying to do the same. They are trying to keep you as long as possible on their app. The best way to do that is to create an endless stream of attention-grabbing images and videos. Look at the most watched videos on YouTube. They include a stream of flashing images and screaming sounds. That stimulation bypasses the evolved parts of your brain and keeps triggering the most primitive parts of your brain. It keeps you in the vicious cycle of pain and pleasure, the cycle of fight, flight, or freeze and little rewards. As humans, we are not meant to stay in that state for too long. As a matter of fact, with our advanced civilization, we don’t need to get into that state that often in the first place.

What are the long and short term consequences of getting into a state of fight or flight and instant rewards this often and this long? Crippling of our attention span and other intellectual capabilities. The internet, our electronic devices, and the apps on them have similar effects to crack cocaine on our minds. This is the root cause of the problems with the so-called millennials. We, the older ones, got introduced to these devices when we were adults. A whole generation is coming who were raised by these devices. Their parents thought these devices were baby-sitters.

Saving ourselves, our brains, our attention spans, and other mental capabilities from the electronic devices and apps is crucial but not enough. We also have to figure out how to deal with colleagues, customers, friends, and family members who became addicted to these devices and apps. Believe me the first part is hard, but the second part is way harder. That’s why I will keep writing on this issue and I am curious to hear what you think about it.