Medium Is The Message

This month, I joined The Message, a new collaborative writing experiment on Medium with an all-star list of some of my favorite writers—danah boyd, Anil Dash, Craig Mod, Rex Sorgatz, Paul Ford, Joanne McNeil, Virginia Heffernan, Clive Thompson, Quinn Norton, Robin Sloan, and Zeynep Tufekci.

Medium’s Kate Lee wrote an introductory post introducing The Message and how we came up with its name. It’s a playful nod to McLuhan, but an appropriate one.

The Message may sound like a simple group blog, but I’m using it as an opportunity to play with Medium as a new medium for writing, pushing its publishing and communication tools to try new things that I can’t really do here on Waxy. I’ll still republish most of my posts here for permanent archiving, but inevitably, they’ll lose something in the translation.

Before publishing anything on The Message, I wanted to know what Medium was capable of, so I published this.

It broke Medium, turning their recommendation emails and user interface into glitch art, crashing computers, and stressing out the support staff.

I followed it up by glitching LinkedIn. That was fun.

This morning, I published my first official post on The Message, my take on the GIF pronunciation war. Short version: CompuServe didn’t actually invent the animated GIF, as we know it, so doesn’t get to dictate how it’s pronounced. It’s a product of the web era, invented by Netscape and popularized by an entire culture.

I hope you like it.


    So, what does GIF stand for? Jraphics Interchange Format?

    (Just because the format’s creator is a dolt when it comes to linguistics doesn’t mean that educated society, especially the software engineers who champion consistency, should follow.)

    Since you value linguistic consistency, can I also assume you also pronounce JPEG as “jay-feg”, ROM as “rome”, or SCUBA as “scuh-ba”?

    I’ve never found that argument particularly convincing, so didn’t bother addressing it in the piece. There’s no rule in linguistics that acronyms should be pronounced a particular way—on the contrary, it’s all over the place.

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