Twitter co-founder Evan Williams launched Medium in 2012 as a social network for blogs and their readers. At its launch, Williams called Medium “A beautiful place for writing, and little else.” He hoped to solve issues with internet trolls and less than quality content that had proliferated on social media including his very own Twitter.
Medium was designed to be simple. The goal was to promote publication of thoughtfully written articles by giving creators more breathing room than Twitter’s 140 character limit, and allowing readers to focus on the message itself rather than who was saying it.
Since its inception, Medium has made some changes, notably its recent promotion of a video story sharing platform not unlike Snapchat. Medium has also decided to not make advertising its primary means for paying its writers and paying the bills, bucking the system in comparison to its cousins in the newspaper and magazine industry who have struggled over the past twenty years to strike digital pay dirt. Medium has instead offered a premium feature that allows readers to blow through paywalls and writers promotion of their articles.
With Medium, Williams is trying to help good writing stand out and coddle the idea that anyone can be a journalist or a content creator. In the age where fake news has called into question the nature of truth, maybe bolstering the ranks of honest working journalists on the outside of the gate is not a bad thing. Medium has opened that gate, and the five year long experiment turning tweeters into writers has yet to fail.
As mentioned by Justin, Medium was made to be more minimalistic rather than allowing many design preferences. It’s more Facebook than MySpace. That being said, how to use it is very straight forward:
To start an account you need a Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ Account, and if you don’t have any of of those, what are you doing on the internet?
If you choose to use Twitter, your bio is automatically transferred over to Medium. If not, only your profile picture is.
Next you are asked to choose from a list of topics that you are interested in reading about.
I can only assume that this is used in conjunction with all the other personal information that the internet knows about us.
And that’s it, you can start using it! There are two fairly obvious ways to use Medium: to post articles, and read others’ articles. Many people cross post from their blog, Facebook, or website.
The app doesn’t work quite as well as either we, or the creators, would like. we’ve had problems uploading and “pushing” content. See our “series series”.
While the website itself is free to use, they have recently (last week) started to try out a new pay-to-play function. By joining to be a “member”, and paying $5 a month, you can have the option to put your articles behind a paywall, meaning it’s only available to other members. You in turn get paid depending on how popular your content is.
Rather than getting “likes” or “loves,” the popularity currency for Medium is “claps”, which is used exactly the same way.
Medium is being praised due to its capability of exposing writers that may be hidden on their own blogs, unless they guest post on other blogs. The idea is then the best content can rise to the top and talented writers can be seen without the hassle of pedigree. There are other technical benefits as well by publishing through the Medium platform. That is all nice and well but what about bias and media literacy? The learning algorithm takes the interests you selected at sign-up and builds on that as you read more articles. A sort of algorithm discrimination is born. Though computers can’t be bias, people are, and thus the algorithm is taught the user’s preferences. Does this create a blind side for the read? If a person does not understand this does it perpetuate their bias?
According to the Media Literacy Project, media literacy is “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media. Media literate youth and adults are better able to understand the complex messages we receive from television, radio, internet, newspapers, magazines, books, billboards, video games, music, and all other forms of media.” Is apps like medium the reason terms like “fake news” are thrown around?