Reflecting on a Year of Writing and Learning on Medium

This essay marks the end of my year writing as a partner for Medium, it was a real pleasure to test new writing styles

Jamie Cohen

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A blurry artistic photo looking northward on third avenue in new york city. The lights from the cars are squiggly and moving as the image was taken at night.
3rd Avenue, Manhattan, January 2022 — Kodak Portra 400 with a Rollei 35

Last year, I was given the opportunity to write for Medium for a year as a partner columnist. It’s been a wonderful adventure where I was able to post 50 pieces that stretched my writing skills (for better or for worse) and let me explore some new angles on somewhat academic-slash-public intellectual stories of the Internet Culture “beat.”

It seems fitting then that I write my final post as we near the end of the experiment we call mainstream social media. Zuckerberg’s sinking his Facebook ship by investing in a project that won’t be ready for a decade, Musk is spreading conspiracy theories on his new “free speech” takeover of Twitter, and YouTube is seemingly overflowing with far-right content. I’ve enjoyed writing about all of it until recently. Now it just feels so… grim.

As an academic, I don’t really have the opportunity to write to the public (if you will) as much as I’d like. Typically, academic writing is for a very small audience of peers who are interested in the same subject. And to be honest, it’s tough to write in the academic style. I love to write journal articles, but it takes a certain amount of patience to put an academic piece together and I envy my colleagues who can write in that manner.

I’ve always been interested in sharing the knowledge outside the walls of academia. For the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to play with ideas that I’ll expand on if I found the time, but having Medium as an outlet was a valuable experience. For one, I love to further explore VR/AR. My doctoral dissertation was a history of virtual reality from 1987–1993, also known as Cyberspace. I happen to agree with AR/VR artist Lucas Rizzotto to say that we should bring it back. Cyberspace was about community, Metaverse is about Zuckerberg.

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Jamie Cohen

Digital culture expert and meme scholar. Cultural and Media Studies PhD. Internet studies educator: social good, civic engagement and digital literacies