Hello, Norway. (And other things Medium has me saying.)
Long before I could publish anything at Medium, I stumbled around the site, moving from post to post to post. I was excited by what I saw. When I’m enthusiastic about something, I tell everyone who will listen. This is typically about four people.
The four people I told about Medium, all said roughly the same thing: “I don’t get it. How is it different than simple blogging?” I was stumped. I knew there was an answer, but I didn’t know how to articulate it.Every time someone posed the question, I’d mutter something about “community.” Then I’d walk away so no one could ask a follow-up.
Not long ago, I received an invitation to post on the site. I published my second piece last week. At more than 2,500 words, I didn’t expect anyone to read it other than a few coworkers and friends. (I thought most of them would bail after a few paragraphs, too.)
I don’t know how many people read a typical Medium post. I do know that I didn’t expect the number of readers who actually slogged through that overwritten post on teens and social media.
I’ve written quite a bit over the years. You can find a fair amount of my writing across the internet. None of it comes close to the length of that post, yet more people have read that post than everything else combined.
“So basically the Twitter guys just started Blogger again and gave it a cleaner, universal UI.”
That was the comment that started to answer the question. It was made by one of the people who listened to my sales pitch. I knew he was wrong, but I couldn’t untangle his dismissal immediately. Then I thought about Ev’s bio on Medium: “I make systems that encourage typing and thinking. (Blogger, Twitter, Medium).”
The only thing that separates Blogger and Medium on that list? Twitter. It’s like a long-form Oreo with a 140-character filling. Except it’s not, because that’s not a list. It’s a continuum.
Blogger focuses on writing.
Twitter focuses on community.
Medium focuses on writing for a community. What do you call a community gathered around writing? Readers. That’s what Medium brings to the table that Blogger doesn’t.
Blogger isn’t a destination. Medium is.
People go to a blog to read a specific person’s specific commentary on a specific subject (even if that subject is as broad as “life”).
When you show up at Medium, there’s a good chance that you have no idea what you’re going to find specifically. You just know there’s going to be good writing, good thinking and good insight.
You could head directly into one of the collections, but the real thrill is finding what the site’s editors and algorithm put on the landing page. It doesn’t take long for you to find something of interest, because there’s a good chance you’re interested in a lot of things.
I think the majority of us on this site are curious. And as curious people, we’re always looking for answers to questions we didn’t even know we were asking.
When we’re looking for answers, we read. When we find them, we write.
Looking in the mirror at Norway.
One of the great things about Medium is the picture it immediately begins to build of the people reading your words.
There are the stats, of course. The number of readers. The number of people who found you to be a dullard and left your post faster than Timbaland can holler “Bounce.” The number of people who liked your writing enough to recommend it to the rest of the community.
Better than that, however, are the points of view readers share with you directly. I’ve found folks here to be thoughtful, engaging and encouraging—not exactly the three most common adjectives used to describe strangers on the internet.
But maybe we’re not strangers. I’ve always thought that readers mirrored their writers. Not precisely, but certainly partially. There’s a reason we choose to read something. I think a lot of it has to do with finding a reflection of ourselves somewhere within words on a page. Or a screen.
That’s why my favorite thing about Medium doesn’t happen at Medium at all. It happens in my Twitter timeline.
I discovered it accidentally, because I didn’t really use the Twitter account associated with my Medium posts—until this weekend. I happened to check it a couple of days after my “teens and social post,” though.
What did I find? People who had tweeted the link to that post. More than I could have ever imagined. Presumably, they saw something in it. I’d held up a sliver of a mirror and they said: “Yes. That’s something.” Then they announced it to their Twitter followers.
I wanted to know who those people were, so I checked their bios. These are just a few of the words I found: Madrid, Sao Paulo, Skopje, Kiev, Glasgow, Milan, Kiev, Copenhagen, Mumbai, Western Cape, Dusseldorf, Nijerk. There were 28 countries in all, including Norway. Apparently, the entire country. Every time I turned around, there was another Norwegian tweeting the link.
Let’s not forget: this was an article about American kids with iPhones using Snapchat to send nude selfies to classmates.
That’s Medium. That’s what we have here. You. Me. A lot of curiosity. And Norway.
I think it’s pretty great. I hope to see you around.