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Getting Started in Medium: Reading, annotating, commenting, and recommending

Once you’ve made a choice to write online…you’ve got a ton of options for where you’d like to write. In this decision, you should consider the look and feel of the writing space or platform. You should also consider social and commentary connections in the platform. Finally, you should think about who owns your content as you share it out online. We’ll talk more about that third point in later posts.

One platform that I’ve increasingly been interested in is Medium. Medium is a writing platform that strips away a lot of the crud that you find in other spaces. The platform also includes connections to a writing community that forms a social network based on writing and ideas. Finally, the tools baked in to Medium make it easy to write, annotate, and comment on the work of others. For this first post in a series, we’ll look at reading, annotating, commenting, and recommending in Medium.

How to get a Medium account

It’ll be much easier to show you what makes Medium different if you get signed in…and we get started. Open a new tab and go to Medium.com. In the top right corner, click the button that says “Sign in/Sign up.”

Once you click on that, you can sign in to the service using Facebook, Twitter, or Google. You can also sign up using your email.

If you use Facebook, Twitter, or Google to sign in, you’ll be brought to an authorization page with that service. You’ll need to sign in to Facebook, Twitter, or Google and then agree to the “Terms of Service.” Click continue and return to Medium. You’ll receive an email from Medium asking you to verify your email address. After you have started a Medium account, log in to your account and come back to this blog post on Medium.

Using Medium as a reader

While reading in Medium, you have access to powerful tools to read, annotate, comment, and communicate with others. Get started by finding and following others. Test this out by following me on Medium. Up at the top of this post, you’ll see my avatar, and with my name to the right. If you hover your cursor over my image, it’ll have a pop-up that shows my stats…and a green follow button. Click that button to follow me. Go ahead…test it out and I’ll wait. :)

Go ahead…you know you want to :)

Annotations — Another powerful feature of Medium is the ability to comment, and leave notes in the margins of documents. The comments are left in the exact place where you’d want people to see them as they read. In this graphic below, you can see a note left by Adam Procter on a post by Doug Belshaw. You can see their dialogue, interact, and (you should) follow them and their works.

To leave a comment on a post, click and drag your cursor on the screen to select a piece of text. You’ll have a little black toolbar that pops up over the text you want to annotate. The first icon will highlight the text you’ve selected…and let people know that you highlighted it. The second icon will allow you to comment on the text. This will open up a place to the right to leave your comment. The third icon will let you tweet out that selected text to the world. The fourth icon will allow you to send a private note to the author. Please take a look at the image below from this piece by Laura Hilliger to see the toolbar in action. I’d follow Laura while you’re there. :)

Finally…as you read through the post, you’ll notice a white toolbar on the bottom of the page. You can click the heart icon to recommend the piece on Medium. You can also click the icon that looks like a chat bubble to leave a comment immediately on the entire doc.

Let’s go ahead and test these features out. While you’re signed in…feel free to highlight text on this page. Leave me a comment. Respond to comments left behind by others. Tweet it out if you’re feeling the need. Finally, shoot me a private note if you’ve noticed some of the grammatical and spelling errors I’ve left behind. :)

Explore Medium to find others

As you explore and get started on Medium, check out some of the others that are also playing on this page. Take a look at their profiles and follow them. Respond to their comments and engage in dialogue.

In our next post, we’ll take a look at starting to write, publish, and collaborate using Medium. Until then…have fun playing in here. Click on the “M” at the top left of this page to go to the home page for Medium. There you’ll see all sorts of people writing about all sorts of things. Find some other pieces and people to follow and connect with.


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Originally published at W. Ian O’Byrne.