It happened on Medium: December roundup

December’s most-read stories, most-highlighted sentences, looks ahead and years in review


Humans are a forward-looking species. If you don’t believe me, Google “Annual Spending on Psychics,” and you’ll discover that Americans shell out some $2.2 billion annually on psychics, astrologers, and fortune tellers. And our instinct to peer into the future is never more powerful than it is at the beginning of a new year.

That’s why in this, the latest edition of our monthly roundup of what’s going on at Medium, we’re sharing resolutions and predictions Medium contributors made for the year ahead, ranging from the practical (Scott Galloway’s peek into where the economy is heading) to the poetic (Little Orange Treesreflection on beginnings and endings).

Humans are a backward-looking species (and full of contradictions). If you need proof of that, look no further than the the New York Times best seller list, where the number-one hardcover nonfiction title as of this writing is David Grann’s The Wager. It’s about a shipwreck that took place in… 1742.

Our species’ collective fixation with the past is why we’re also sharing below a selection of year-end roundups posted by Medium writers. Those cover everything from books you read to music you had on repeat to open-source tools that changed your workflows.

Of course, no edition of It Happened On Medium would be complete without a breakdown of the stories you read most, sentences you highlighted again and again, and key statistics and product updates, and you’ll find those here, too.

Whether you’re in the mood to gaze into a crystal ball or look in the rearview mirror, we hope you enjoy this month’s iteration of IHOM. As always, let us know what you think.

Jon Gluck, Editorial Director of Special Projects, and the team at Medium

Medium by the numbers

In all of 2023…

  • You created 7.4 million new Medium drafts.
  • Readers viewed 89.1 million stories from their Daily Digest emails.
  • Readers saved 57,500 lists.

December’s most-highlighted passages

“At some point, a project must produce a final product.” — Tamas Polgar, “Agile has failed. Officially.” in Developer rants

“Try highlighting this sentence if you dare.” — Tony Stubblebine, “Welcome to Medium

“Too old? Heck, yes. I’m too old to sit on the sidelines and not pursue my dreams. Too old to doubt my own judgment. Too old not to value myself and think I’m worth investing in.” — Kelly Eden | Essayist | Writing Coach, “At 40 He Told Me I Was Too Old, And I Agreed” in An Injustice!

Community and product updates

Over 150 publications accepting submissions

If you’re a writer, browse our newly updated list of Medium publications accepting submissions. You’ll find publications focusing on everything from poetry to psychology, science, programming, and beyond. Take a look at their submission guidelines and send in your stories.

Are you a publication editor who doesn’t see your publication listed? First of all scroll down to the bottom just to be sure (it’s a long list!). If you still don’t see your publication, email us a published Medium post containing your publication’s submission guidelines:

The 10 most-read stories in December

  1. How I Won Singapore’s GPT-4 Prompt Engineering Competition” by Sheila Teo, Data Scientist, in Towards Data Science
  2. The Record Label Crisis” by Tunes and Tales aka Patrick Clifton, Music and Tech Consultant; former Head of Artist & Label Relations at Amazon Music
  3. How Many Hobbits? A Demographic Analysis of Middle Earth” by Lyman Stone, Economist
  4. What Spotify’s Latest Layoff Means for a Career in UX Research” by Meltem Naz Kaso Coskun, UX Research Mentor, in UX Collective
  5. Advice to my younger self and you after 20 years in programming” by Alexey Inkin, Google Developer Expert and Programming Consultant
  6. Willpower Is Not the Solution” by Cassie Kozyrkov, Former Chief Decision Scientist at Google
  7. At 40 He Told Me I Was Too Old, And I Agreed” by Kelly Eden | Essayist | Writing Coach, in An Injustice!
  8. Berkson’s Paradox in Machine Learning” by Olivier Caelen, AI/ML Researcher, in Towards Data Science
  9. 108 Favorite Albums of 2023” by Hanif Abdurraqib, Poet and Essayist
  10. 12 Unusual Predictions for 2024” by Adrien Book, Strategy Consultant

Most popular stories from the Medium archive

Some stories age like fine wine. Year after year, you return to these timeless Medium posts to read, share, learn, and grow. Here are a few vintage hits from Decembers past:

This Is Why I Didn’t Accept You as a Senior Software Engineer” by David Goudet, Senior Software Engineer. Originally published in July 2023.

When exposing them to new problems, children who were praised for their persistence tended to choose more difficult problems to solve, and children who were said to be smart ended up performing worse on the problems they solved.

Why can’t we read anymore?” by Hugh McGuire, Publishing Executive and Entrepreneur. Originally published in April 2015 (!)

Books recreate someone else’s thoughts inside our own minds, and maybe it is this one-to-one mapping of someone else’s words, on their own, without external stimuli, that give books their power. Books force us to let someone else’s thoughts inhabit our minds completely.

Laziness Does Not Exist” by Devon Price, Social Psychologist and Author. Originally published in March 2018.

People do not choose to fail or disappoint. No one wants to feel incapable, apathetic, or ineffective. If you look at a person’s action (or inaction) and see only laziness, you are missing key details. There is always an explanation. There are always barriers. Just because you can’t see them, or don’t view them as legitimate, doesn’t mean they’re not there. Look harder.

The Best Way to Start Farming” by Chris Newman, founder of Sylvanaqua Farms, Skywoman, and the soon-to-launch Blackbird Poultry Cooperative. Originally published in September 2022.

Hear me out: the path that most people take — buying land, figuring out how to grow stuff, then growing stuff, and then figuring out how to sell it (maybe or maybe not after doing “market research”) — leads to people not farming for very long in an industry with extremely high attrition.

Your years in review and 2024 resolutions

Last month, thousands of you published end-of-year roundups from every angle: books you read, music you had on repeat, open-source tools that changed your workflows, and games you played. Browse the Year in Review topic page and the 2023 topic page to read some of the highlights, including Wikimedia’s most popular articles of the year and Adam Scotti’s behind-the-scenes photographs of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Many of you shared resolutions and predictions for the year ahead. Scott Galloway outlines where the tech industry is heading, Melissa Corrigan wants us to ground our resolutions in reality, and Little Orange Trees offers a poetic reflection on beginnings and endings. Browse the Resolutions Topic Page and the New Year Topic Page to dive deeper.

For more notable stories, writers, and publications, head over to “What We’re Reading” and Staff Picks. What have you been reading lately? What would you like to see in next month’s roundup? Let us know in the responses.