It’s been a few months since my first Medium post. Over this period, as a result of blogging here, I’ve become more aware of the backlash against the ‘think piece’:

‘think piece’ def: an article in a newspaper, magazine, or journal presenting personal opinions, analysis, or discussion, rather than bare facts, i.e. Medium’s speciality.

Yes, given its content, Medium is an easy target. But for me, it remains an exciting platform for self-expression, confident with its loose definition; its ability to present random, independent voices in one celebratory epicentre of curiosity. I guess I find this appealing because it chimes with my role at Rough Trade, protecting and celebrating independent self-expression.

So, what became of Flotsm , the reason I blogged here in the first place?

As a beta app, Flotsm’s infancy has been spent making new friends, familiarising with new surroundings, toughening-up and readying itself for a period of intensified adolescence.

Given the amount of effort that lead-up to announcing Flotsm’s existence, I couldn’t deny a feeling of apprehension and hope, eager to receive positive validation for the time myself and others had spent working on it — in my case, during the exotic hours that exist between home and work commitments. I wanted to shout about it, get it noticed.

This was a mistake. I’d ignored the very fact that as a ‘beta’, it wasn’t yet ‘market ready’, hence prone to being misunderstood as something finished. The App Store version will benefit from the beta feedback and further developer input.

Thankfully, the handful of media I approached recognised my naivety, immediately. All positive reactions helped to steer my pride safely back to shore: (to paraphrase) looks great, but we’d prefer to cover it once it’s officially available to all, not just to a limited number of beta testers.

So, after announcing Flotsm on Medium, then after a few choice Tweets, Flotsm had managed to amass several hundred beta testers in a little over a couple of weeks. I was obviously familiar with the power of social media but still, I was pleasantly surprised and guilty of underestimating how relatively swift, word could spread.

Two months on, and our newly acquired volume of ‘beta test’ activity has resoundingly validated the concept, provided us invaluable independent feedback, and clearly sign-posted what areas need to improve, change or remain intact. In essence, our beta mission has been accomplished. So, about a week ago, we decided it was time to close-off the beta invites and start concentrating on building the final App Store-ready version.

As it turns out, our timing couldn’t have been better…

Flotsm has caught the eye of a leading technology publication, T3: they selected Flotsm to feature in their annual Hot 100 Tech list, alongside just two other apps, Citymapper and Snapchat Discover:

“Flotsm is one of the most exciting new social platforms around. Honest and savvy debate on social media without the sniping has been needed for some time.” Tom Dennis, Editor, T3

Given that Flotsm is the only beta app featured, and the only British-born app featured, I’d say this is a pretty good endorsement for not just Flotsm, but also for the UK tech community.

As to what impact will this have, it’s hard to say. But one thing is for sure: having closed the door on our beta test, any new interest resulting from this maiden coverage will now have to wait for the finished product. For me, I think this is as it should be: to be judged by the wider public when fully ready, not before. A lesson learnt, just in the nick of time.

Make no mistake, Flotsm ‘beta’ clearly illustrates what makes it so special and promising, but it’s really just two-thirds of what we intend to include in the final App Store-ready version, which we aim to release early this summer.

In the meantime, considering how many apps swirl like plankton in the sea of technology, having Flotsm rise to the surface with glowing critical acclaim is something worth celebrating and sharing. I’ve done this by returning here, to Medium — a platform that lends itself to sharing experiences and adventures with other curious minds.

If you’d like to receive news on how Flotsm is progressing ahead of its App Store launch, sign-up at www.flotsm.com.

And you can follow Flotsm here on Medium, and Twitter, @floatFlotsm.

To all those who’ve provided beta test feedback, on behalf of ‘team Flotsm’, many sincere thanks… Thank you for being so curious!

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