I’ve seen your animate logo thought as a comment on a different post and I almost ignored it because I don’t think an animate logo could work, until we find a way to print animated things in the reality (that would be gross, I guess, when everything around you will animate uninterruptedly, but that’s another story). And, as a fallback for static surfaces, neither the frame without the cursor, neither the other one sounds good (one is the same as the actual one, the other is misleading and not beautiful).
Anyway your thoughts are right and seems, instead, that many doesn’t understand the exaggerated simplicity of the logo (maybe it’s a temporary placeholder?).
So I’m 100% with what you say.
I guessed (and it’s the only thing that could sound ok to me) that their intention is to make the Medium branding disappear, in order to give more visibility to publications. When an user write something, it has the anonymous Medium logo, but when it’s for a publication, the full logo Medium disappears and the web page icon becomes the publication one.
Even the app icon doesn’t represent the logo.
So, it’s a de-branding attempt. Medium wants to stay silent and let others write and brand their works inside the platform.
Only by seeing it in this way, it makes sense.