From the makers of Blogger comes “Medium”.
Thirteen years ago a radical idea changed the world wide web – anyone anywhere could suddenly publish their thoughts to the global internet audience through a free platform called Blogger (now owned by Google). The brains behind Blogger – Evan Williams and Christopher ‘Biz‘ Stone – are now trying to repeat history by building a new publishing platform from scratch. Called ‘Medium’, the new platform aims to redress the major flaw with social media and blogging communities – most services have lowered the bar for sharing information, making quality content hard to find.
The Obvious Corporation have taken on this project as they believe media is still the ‘connective tissue of society’. Williams and Stone are trying to re-imagine publishing in an attempt to make an evolutionary leap forward – they want to build a community where quality content always trumps quantity. Unlike Blogger, users posting on Medium wont have the burden of building an audience. Instead, they can focus on posting quality content, organised into ‘collections’. Collections are designed to give people a context to publish their own stories, photos and ideas. Users then rate the posts they visit, culminating in the highest-rated posts showing up at the top of the page, a democratic process designed to help users find the best posts easily. A green bull’s eye with a score from one to ten indicates how many viewers voted for the post.
The developers of Medium are still in the testing phase and posting privileges are limited to a small invited list of friends and family of the founders. As a Beta member, I was still able to view and vote on content, which currently included the boards ‘Been There, Loved That’, a beautiful collection of photos from around the world.
A particular favourite was the collection titled ‘Look What I’ve Made’, which included ‘Orwell’s Firewall’ – a router constructed from the decayed remains of an HP 80138 Pulse Generator. The device plays homage to Orwell’s 1984 novel with the name MINITRUE (short for the Ministry of Truth). The blinking lights are reminders that data is sent into a world of systems, corporations and governments that do not always share the maker’s own values of openess, transparency or privacy.
‘The Writer’s Room’, was a collection that displayed the musings on the mental forces involved in writing and advice on how to grapple with the sometimes overwhelming drive to procrastinate. ‘The Obvious Collection’ was an ode to the company behind the Medium project – The Obvious Corporation – and had articles on collaboration in business.
Will it be any good?
With such lofty goals, Medium looks set to fail in it’s modus operandi. Like every other social media site that gets users to vote or ‘like’ content, quality content will simply be replaced by ‘popular’ content. Popular does not equal quality, and some would argue that it is inversely related. The Medium community will only be as good as its users – it looks good now because it has few users and fits a particular taste. As soon as Medium becomes popular, its ‘taste’ and ‘feel’ will degrade to the mainstream norm and we will be back where we started (drowning in a deluge of poor quality content).
However, where Medium can succeed is in its attempt to be the antithesis of the noisy Twitter feed. Posting on Medium looks elegant and easy and the good design will appeal to people wanting a less busy interface.