Sunday, July 23, 2017

Writing Tools: Pirates, Mediums, and Sad Faces

Ye, be warned! No, no, not that kind of pirates, mediums, and sad faces. This blog is all about writing tools. 

When I read over this week’s suggested tools, I’ll admit I had never heard of most of them, but I was instantly drawn to the Writing Tools section, especially PiratePad and Medium.

For PiratePad, I see how it could be valuable, but I’d limit that value to those who don’t have access to other, arguably better, tools like Blackboard Collaborate, Adobe Connect, Microsoft OneDrive/Skype or many of the other collaborative writing environments. My main reason for supporting these other tools over PiratePad is mostly because there are other built-in features that accompany the wiki-like environment. In education, I’d suggest that the other options are easier to use and are able to handle logistical concerns that PiratePad just can’t manage. 

Now, with all that being said, PiratePad is free and offers collaboration and wiki opportunities to those who might not otherwise have access. Since we’re using Wikispaces, I chose not to review it here, but that is also a free option that I think is superior to PiratePad. Whenever faculty I work with can’t decide if they want to use a new tool, I’ll often have them use a rubric to score the overall value and UX. I looked at the rubric as I explored on PiratePad, and it just didn’t score as high as Wikispaces or any of the other similar tools I’ve used. Again, I think it’s a great option for those who are beginning to explore collaboration and wiki-writing, and it’s easy to use, just wouldn’t by my first choice.
Screenshot of PiratePad in Use

Screenshot of Medium Homepage
Now, Medium, however is something I’ve already decided will be one of my go-to sites. I love that it is built around blogging, but that it’s taken it a step further and categorized and connected you to others who are writing on topics in which you are interested. I set up my account in less than a minute, and I’ve already found myself liking several of the stories that were recommended to me based on my selected topic areas. It, in many ways, combines writing and social media in a really beautiful way. 

The layout is clean, the controls are user friendly, and the free membership seems solid. Overall, after only a few days of use, I haven’t had any problems with it and enjoy the ability to connect with writers who share similar interests. While my excitement for this tool stems mostly from personal interest, I can see how this could be incorporated into education as well. This week’s tools were some of my favorite to explore because many of them were new to me and helped me consider other options to connect and learn.

On a somewhat separate note, after adding to the class wiki, I started thinking about microblogging. I searched several sites that listed microblogging tools, but of over 10, only two or three were still active. The others look like they shutdown sometime between 2010 and 2015. It made me so curious about why all those tools didn’t make it. Twitter is always considered a microblogging tool, but I wonder why those tools that labeled microblogging more like paragraph-length submissions didn’t fare so well. I’m sure there are many reasons why Web 2.0 tools don’t make it, but it seemed so strange that almost every microblogging tool I looked for had the same sad face and "no longer exists" message when visiting their former websites. 


  1. Y'know when PPad is really good? On a conference call (phone, not video) with folks and brainstorming something out. No need to set up anything complicated, get user accounts, download plugins, etc. Just email the link and everyone can access.

    Twitter ended up with the monopoly on pure microblogging as tools, etc. merged.

  2. Thanks for this review! I got pretty interested in Medium when I gave it a look. Reading your blog made me want to go back to it and dig a little deeper. :-)