The post is a little thin on concrete details, but this quote gives the important gist:
Posting on Medium (not yet open to everyone) is elegant and easy, and you can do so without the burden of becoming a blogger or worrying about developing an audience. All posts are organized into “collections,” which are defined by a theme and a template. (For example, this post is in the About Medium collection with a simple article template.)
We believe that good design supports the purpose (not just the appeal) of content, so Medium is diverse in look and feel—ranging from different types of articles to images to, eventually, much more.
Those two sentences reveal the intentions behind the platform. I think the big idea is lurking between the lines.
“Without the burden of becoming a blogger”
Evan Williams was the founder of Pyra Labs which gave the world Blogger back in 1999. Blogger was one of the first good publishing platforms for the web. Blogging was still very new at the time, and was still the province of very technical people, or at least people who had very technical friends. Blogger was special in that a person with modest technical skills could publish a web site and keep it up to date all on their own. Most importantly, Blogger was a mostly free service. The barrier to entry was low compared to building your own b site from scratch, or becoming a paid writer for a newspaper or website.
In the years that followed a billion monkeys banged on a billion keyboards, got a million book deals, and now we have an internet where amateur political analysts predict the 2008 election and become contributors for the New York Times.
So why build another Blogger?
Tumblr exists, right?
Medium isn’t a blogging platform. It’s a way to publish one little page at a time. This means that a person with one good story to tell has a place to tell that story without the obligation of creating a whole, dumb web site. Here’s an anecdotal example: My wife is a medical student. Over the past few years she has volunteered in a sort of clinic in Guadalajara, in Mexico. There she met a woman who lost her leg due to injuries sustained while falling off the roof of a train bound for the US.
Don’t you want to hear that story?
My busy wife will never start a blog. She doesn’t have the time for, or interest in, maintaining a web site. You will never hear that story.
But what if she didn’t need a whole blog for that one story? What if she could just publish that one story someplace where anyone could find it? Then you might get to read it.
“Good design supports the purpose (not just the appeal) of content”
So far the publicly available content on Medium looks great.
Responsive design, highly readable type, and big, gorgeous images.
They’ve set the stage for the kind of high-quality content they want for this platform. You might see an acerbic satire, but you won’t ever see a LOL-cat. Serious graphic design encourages serious content. (Having a few strict rules doesn’t hurt either.)
So now, not only can anyone publish something, anyone can publish something that looks really professional, and you don’t even have to have to think of a name for your Tumblr blog.
This contributes to lowering that barrier to entry we covered above, but it also levels the playing field between contributors. If I’m a fancy-pants writer for some dead-tree-outfit and you’re just some guy with a story to tell, on Medium our content looks equally respectable. All things being equal, if your story is better, it wins.
The quote at the start of this piece states that content on Medium will be organized into collections. Collections are not categories. Categories are just labels applied to things. Collections have been collected by a collector.
Art is collected, essays are collected, short stories are collected. You collect your thoughts, and sometimes you collect yourself. The terminology implies intention and curation, not algorithms.
Medium is centralizing high-quality publishing with a low barrier to entry on a publicly curated platform. Medium is Wikipedia for original content.
Think about how easy it is to find an old friend from high school on Facebook. Think about how easy it is to follow trends and events on Twitter. Medium will do the same thing for stuff to read.
Are they posts? Articles? Media? Mediums? ↩
The longest running blogs are all computer dorks and scientists. ↩
I have a pet theory that as all the old men of the internet get older, the fonts will continue to get bigger. Them eyes ain’t gettin’ any younger. ↩
“Medium” is a clever name. “Medium” is like “media” obviously, but it’s also neither big nor small.Tweets are small, blogs are large. Medium is for medium sized content. I bet the domain name was expensive. ↩