It’s been about a year since Medium, a publishing platform from Twitter co-founder Evan Williams launched. In honor of this anniversary we’re taking a look back at Medium's start and how it’s been viewed by the public.
What is Medium?
Medium, which is described as “a better place to read and write things that matter,” is, at its core, a grouping of different platforms: blogging or publishing, Twitter, content curation and collaboration. Unlike Twitter, which Williams also created, Medium lets it users publish content that’s longer than a 140 characters in a way that’s different from traditional blogging or digital publishing platforms.
Publishers and writers who use Medium can share ideas, relevant links, stories, photos and other content in an easy to use platform that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance or technical knowledge. Content, which once published is regulated into a collection of thematically similar posts, can also be collaborated on and edited by other users to make it more resonative and informative.
Through a combination of algorithmic and editorial curation, posts on Medium get spread around based on interest and engagement,” wrote Williams “Some get hundreds of thousands of readers — and not because they were written by famous people. Medium is not about who you are or whom you know, but about what you have to say. “
A sample post from Evan Williams
Medium members can also read and browse content posted through the site by looking at a particular collection, editorial picks or the most popular articles of that day. Readers can also recommend articles they like, boost an article's popularity by liking it and leave comments for authors. Posts are also tagged with an average reading time.
Stuck in the Middle with Medium
During its initial launch many critics weren’t convinced that Medium could last. Mario Aguilar called it a “Frankensteinish PinTumblReddit.".
Take a look at the sample collections and ask yourself if they're really substantively different from what you can make elsewhere,” he wrote. “They look like Subreddits with Pinterest visuals or Tumblrs by groups of users rather than just one.”
Since then, it seems that the general opinion of Medium hasn’t changed much. It is making strides as Alexis C. Madrigal points out, but there is still a lot of work to be done before it can be credible as a publishing platform.
For us media producers, we have to decide whether Medium is a friend or a foe,” she wrote. “They don't appear to have the financial constraints we have, which gives them a design leg up, and they also don't have the ethical constraints we have in what runs on their site. If we publish something plagiarized, it reflects poorly on us. If Medium publishes something plagiarized, it reflects poorly on the writer.”
There are others like Stowe Boyd who are still confused as to what Medium actually does or can do for publishers and content creators.
Perhaps [it’s for] those that want to rise to be professional journalists — to get paid directly for their writing and not to rely solely on its side effects — perhaps those writers might opt to post at Medium hoping to rise into the paid writer tier.” he wrote.
We still don't have the answer to what medium really is all about, but it's interesting to see how the industry is watching it. Would we be looking at closely if it wasn't built by Twitter creators?