What does a publishing system designed for today’s content, information, and communication landscape look like?
According to Twitter founders Ev Williams and Biz Stone, it looks like Medium – their latest venture that launched earlier this week and aims to combine traditional blogging services with user-curated collections to deliver a modern age publishing platform.
This question, initially asked by Stone in one of the very first entries on Medium, pokes at the idea that, since they launched Blogger in 1999, the Internet has come a long way and people need a content network for the technology age we’re living in now – one that capitalizes on the fact that we are all networked in one way or another, whether we like it or not! As Williams puts it in his Medium welcome post, “Together, the contributions of many add up to create compelling and useful experiences.” And, even back in 2005, Narendra Rocherolle recounts Williams saying, “I always thought that publishing could be far more collaborative.” Well, this is his chance.
From my assessment, Medium is a kind of community blogging. It’s like Williams and Stone have combined people’s desire to post and share content (both written and visual) with Pinterest-like boards or “collections” to aggregate similar topics. I’ll admit, I didn’t fully understand it until poking around a bit on the few public collections available (like the one sharing crazy stories, or the one where people post beautiful landscape photos), but what really struck me was Williams’ description that Medium is an easy way to post “without the burden of becoming a blogger or worrying about developing an audience.”
This could be appealing to many people who want to share their thoughts instantly with a pre-defined audience. For instance, if I want to write about PR, I could reach a whole group of people interested in PR on Medium’s hypothetical PR Collection page instead of starting up my own blog and hoping some people will stumble across it. BUT, important to note, for those who do want to start a private collection of their own, this is also possible.
Medium’s collection concept gives users context and structure to publish stories, pictures and ideas. Although the photo-based collections may face stiff competition from Pinterest, the idea to allow such free and easy-to-use content publishing clearly stems from the intersection of where media, networking and Web-based interactions are heading. While still in its infancy and not accessible to the public, Medium has two visionaries propelling it into the world and a good vision to help it succeed. Do you think Medium will take off?