OK Elizabeth, please bring back public comments on the side and the ability to overlay text on the header image
Nice to see elizabeth tobey actively engaging with the readers of Medium and asking them what they think of the reading experience in Medium. I even participated in the short survey she posted on the blog post (do participate in the survey, it is a short and practical survey). I’d say, as a reader of Medium for the past several years, it was interesting to see Medium change its get up, and slowly over time, I got sucked into the Medium ecosystem of posts, and typography, and everything else, so much so, that of all the social media that I consume in a day’s work and life, Medium is my most important go to place for finding long form reading, saving, writing, reflecting, and working. I have even written a book entirely in Medium (a translation of the life of Lord Buddha which no one has ever read, but what the heck? Medium brought back the fun of writing on the web).
But this is not about writing on Medium, nobody wants my opinion on that. How about reading experience in Medium? I’d argue as a reader that Medium should bring back two features it used to have way back when and then lost it, I understand, somewhat deliberately. Two features.
The first is comments on the side that were public. Be that as it may, they made for great conversations on the side without cluttering the space. I used to complain that the typography was tiny but I did lament its loss when they shafted the feature and made it only for private conversations. As a result, no one pretty much uses that feature (or even if they use it you would not know). There was another, somewhat surprising and unusual use of the side comments that I used to find really really useful. That is this:
if you write a non-fiction piece and would like to annotate and add references or footnotes, the public comments sections were a great place to stick references and sidenotes.
Medium killed that, sadly. Medium, please bring that feature back.
The other thing that I’d like to see back in Medium is the beautiful header image with superimposed text on it. It used to have a great impact on me, as a reader of the text, as it would enable me to take in at one fell swoop the title and an expressive image to tie in what’s in it for me. An image that would at once serve as an abstract. Well, that is gone.
So, here are my two wishes thrown in the wishing well — public comments on the side whitespace, and ability to write on the header image. No big deal. Just two.