The Top Three Reasons Why Academics + Universities Publish on Medium
Gabe Kleinman

Writing on Medium and solving for x:
Are we there yet?

Medium, I love you but you’re bringing me down.

No. Most definitely not.

At least on an individual level — and this is were I’ll focus. Don’t get me wrong, I like Medium and perhaps more importantly I love writing on Medium. The experience is near perfect, the simplicity of the design comforting and don’t get me started on the attention to typography.

I might be (only?) a student but I’m still considered part of the academic community. I communicate — as in I share ideas and concepts — through language and my preferred way of doing that is writing. It encourages a structured way of presenting said ideas and concepts that I prefer.

Yet I steer clear from academic-related writing on Medium. And the reason is a very simple one: non-existent support for mathematics.

It’s required even in the small stuff.
Case in point, I was recently asked to explain with a couple of examples the notion of “vectorizing” code to run more efficiently in Octave/Matlab. Since the other person wasn’t even in the same country as I was, using the internet was a must.
I had to use code blocks along with words but most importantly I had to be able to write matrices. Eventually I used Markdown and exported to HTML, escaping the slashes so that MathJax would recognise the LaTeX code and render matrices and equations (with sums, integrals and all the goodies properly displayed). I emailed the HTML file and that was that.

However, this is knowledge that I’d like to have found online myself when I first stumbled upon the notion of vectorizing, preferably easily and with the math properly formatted. That is, I’d liked for it to be available and most importantly, discoverable by those searching for it, without forcing the author to jump through hoops just to get his point across.

It’s absurd that posting in GitHub with Jekyll support and the Kramdown parser would be the easiest way to post something like this online and make it publicly available. MathJax (or some other equivalent) shouldn’t be too hard to implement. All my other writing is already earmarked to “live” on Medium, why should posts containing math be any different?

And the best part of course is this: you don’t have to write alone. Imagine the collaboration that it could yield, across disciplines.

Medium could be the awesome place to be for people in engineering, physical & formal sciences among others, to express themselves in fields they’re knowledgeable.

Now, we are excluded, forced to partially use or abandon an otherwise excellent platform, simply because we want to use one more -complimentary- way to communicate: math. And presto, we’re isolated, each on his or her own blog, writing in a bubble.

Work with others to clarify your thinking — and your words — before you publish. —Ev, in “Don’t write alone.”

Words are fine, pictures as well. They’re ways to express yourself and get concepts and ideas out of your head and transmit them to the receiver, all within a system of communication. What about math then?

Language is the human ability to acquire and use complex systems of communication, and a language is any specific example of such a system. — Wikipedia
Math is (also) a language, one used throughout the world.

I firmly believe that math support would add value. As far as I know, math always was a second-class citizen on the internet.
It’s about time that changed.

So here’s hoping:

Dear Medium, don’t hold us back!

A dedicated user.


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Say hi (and let’s discuss it more if you’d like) on twitter: @gkampolis.

PS: Yes, I thought about creating all math expressions as images. This is so tedious, inefficient and backwards that I feel bad I’ve even considered it. For those (probably very few) who don’t know any better: play around with this.
You can thank me later. ☺