More Stimulus, Less Response


Reading Dalton Caldwell’s Understanding Like-gate on Medium, I went off on a little tangent. I was reminded that the platform’s “kudos” feel a little strained to me, an add-on that’s not quite in harmony with the rest of the platform.

But at the same time, ever since Kirk Love shifted his creative attention to his own single-serving site (which is Medium-like in its lack of comments, like buttons, or associated bells and whistles), I’ve been missing the lack of a way to signal to him that I read something he posted and enjoyed it. I think that I’ve emailed Kirk once or twice about posts, but after five years or so of Twitter and Tumblr I’ve grown accustomed to having a low-effort way to give people a little pat on the back.

And that, I think, is where my discomfort with Kudos lies. If I may get fuzzy for a moment, Medium feels to me like it’s intended to be a more contemplative space. You don’t comment on posts, or reblog them: you read, you look, and you think. Dropping the lowest common denominator of user response — and no other — into that space strikes a discordant note for me.

The reduced emphasis on reacting to the content inherent to both of these examples is an interesting area to explore. Likes, hearts, and stars certainly aren’t going away any time soon, but the web can use some spaces that ask you to sit on your hands for a few minutes and simply engage with what’s being offered.