The two very wealthy men who founded Twitter, Evan Williams and Biz Stone, have evolved a whole new social media platform called ‘Medium.’ Despite pouring through countless articles about its upcoming launch, the purpose of this new online space remains quite ambiguous. The domain is up and running as a preview, adding no further clarity to the functioanlity, but it looks nice. There are pretty photos on rotation and the chance to randomly enter text. Which is nice. It’s all very nice, which lends itself nicely to the vagueness. Nice.
A bit like a mysterious babe with a strange accent, rumours about “Medium’ are sifting en masse around the Internet. So, to get to the bottom of its origins, I signed up to the 'in-development' site and found a post written by Mr Williams himself, one half of the clever Twitter duo. These bold men that brought us that tiny, blue and now indispensable bird actually started out back in 1999 with ‘Blogger’ which has now been munched up by Google. Turns out, the reason they haven’t taken all of their cyber-gold and started a tropical island settlement is that they want to raise the Internet-bar, saying in the post:
‘Lots of services have successfully lowered the bar for sharing information, but there’s been less progress toward raising the quality of what’s produced. While it’s great that you can be a one-person media company, it’d be even better if there were more ways you could work with others. And in many ways, the web is still mimicking print concepts, while not even catching up to it in terms of layout, design, and clarity of experience.’
Now that makes the mysterious babe even more interesting. It bypasses the tired argument that asks whether or not we need a new platform for sepia-filtered pictures of your food, because, simply put: we will always need a new platform as long as the Internet continues to evolve the way we communicate. The post goes onto explain that while the Internet has been around for a while, it is still brand new. Which may seem like a relatively superfluous statement, but upon careful inspection actually contains a whole heap of truth: we’re still learning the wily ways of the World Wide Web, it was designed to adapt so quickly that often things are propelled into existence before they are even theorized. It's a strange, magic mirror that reflects culture as we make it.
After reading the announcement from the horses' mouths, I discovered ‘Medium’ is expressly looking to update the current publishing paradigm. As an industry undergoing huge change, publishing often finds itself at loggerheads with technology, especially when it comes to the realm of the online. In a valid attempt to marry the two, 'Medium' will work on a collaborative basis with no need for high levels of interaction – you can simply look at content from the sidelines if you so wish, it's less like a public diary and more like a team-collage. The notion is shared ‘collections’ that are organized by a theme, not a specific person – relevant posts concerning a topic will be collated into one space. They even provide an example, showing a collection of ‘crazy stories.’
I like it. The look is nice, but the ethos is better. It removes the self-indulgent glamour of other social media platforms, and moves into an arena of legitimate creativity. It's also good to see those driving the evolution of e-culture do it with some decent mission in mind. You might actually be inspired, which really is nice. So I for one dig this mysterious babe. How very obvious of me. Have a look and see what you think.