Medium, tagline "A better place to read and write things that matter", is the latest project of Ev Williams of Blogger and Twitter fame. It's a platform, currently in select user beta, that allows those selected users to write content and publish it to the web. So what? There are lots of tools that allow for that, some of them created by Ev in fact. Here's what makes Medium different (and what I happen to love about it):
- It's longer format than Twitter (definitely more than 140 characters), but not as long as an essay. It is perhaps most aptly described as "medium format" writing. (It should be noted that there's no apparent restriction on number of characters, most posts just seem to hover around a medium length).
- It's stripped down. I hear from some of its writers that the editor UI is as well, but the reader experience is in some ways best defined by what is absent. There's not much there other than text and some basic images. The end.
- It has the ability for contextual comments, broken down by paragraph, ie/ you can respond to people's writing paragraph by paragraph allowing you to comment on a particular thought/idea or concept within the larger post.
- While it is currently all about the writers (writers are invited/granted permission to contribute, it's not currently an open platform) the ego component is low. Author pages are quite basic: name, standard format image, short descriptor/tagline and a list of your posts to Medium and some posts you recommend from other authors. The end.
- The site looks great no matter what device you view it on.
- Right now, there's no clear way to "monetize it", to add affiliate ads, or revenue generators. At this moment in time (and perhaps that's all we can ask for from the web) it's about the reading and the writing.
It's the simplicity and the focus on writing in particular that I'm loving. No surprise there, it was writing/content that really first drew me to the web and in many ways sorting out complex content into easily accessible experiences is what we specialize in at Raised Eyebrow. While there's definitely a bias in terms of the types of people who are writing on Medium so far (I have no idea for example what the gender or age breakdown is, but I'm guessing the class lines are pretty middle of the road, and the cultural perspectives seem limited), I am enjoying the different perspectives (within those confines) that I'm getting from it. Spending 30 minutes on Medium going from a post on Social Media's Role in Modern Society to the role of Craft in Modern Society to a theory of how to inspire good ideas within a group of people titled The McDonald's Effect I feel like I've just covered a bunch of ground in different disciplines all over a single cup of tea.
While the platform itself will likely evolve and new bells and whistles will evolve, I'm really hoping they find a way to keep the simple elegance and lack of clutter of the current version. And until then, it's becoming my go to place for new ideas, new (to me) thinkers and a quiet pause in my day.