The newest kid on the media block is Medium, somewhere between a social network and a collaborative publishing tool, and given the pedigree of its founders, Twitter co-founders Ev Williams and Biz Stone, it’s well worth attention.
Obvious, Williams and Stone’s post-Twitter startup that was announced at the Aspen Institute festival in July 2011, has already given the world Blogger as well as Twitter, and describes itself as “more of a philosophy than a company or product. We focus our long term view on ideas and technology that can be generally described as 'world positive.' When opportunities resonate with our worldview, we do what makes sense to help them succeed.”
Medium is their “world positive,” lightweight tool for self-expression with text and images. Users — anyone with a Twitter account — can post once or several times a day, and create original collections. Posting is presently open only to those who register.
Medium is a fervent democracy and posts are ranked by ratings rather than chronology. The nascent promise is that everybody should be able to publish without the dual pressures of becoming a full-time blogger and amassing a following.
Posts are organized into “collections,” defined by a theme and a template. The first four collections:
The augmenting trend of curated but accessible tools for self-expression and the sharing of individually-generated content is the manifest destiny of the Internet — Web 3.0, where the medium finds its heartbeat.
Tumblr, Twitter, RebelMouse, and CheckThis (imported from Belgium) are examples of the trajectory of this landscape where digital tools are being refined and offered to the world, wholesale and whole-scale.
“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,” writes Williams.
Stone adds in a separate post, “Much of our vision for Medium is just that—vision. Our ideas are much farther along than our product. Medium is only a sliver of what it could be.”
The biggest challenge will be keeping the bar high and the substance entertaining while including, potentially, everyone and anyone — the biggest monkey-wrench so far in democratizing crowdsourced content.
Two comments on Techcrunch speak for themselves:
• “Hmmm, we'll see how good Ev and Biz are, but these first looks sure aren't very impressive in a world of a flood of information. Readers don't need more information anymore. That was true in the Blogger and Twitter worlds. Now we need better filtering. This doesn't look like it will help. Not to mention that it doesn't look mobile first, which is going to be a big mistake in this new world. I keep expecting a new company to come along and really take on mobile content big time. I'm shocked that this isn't it, actually.” Robert Scoble, Startup Liaison Officer at Rackspace Managed Hosting
• “Well there have been lots of comments on whether another publishing platform is needed? But we must understand that information and communication is constantly evolving. Some ideas are revolutionary, other a bit less, but they are all contributing. Would you really like to be stuck with only Blogger and Twitter? Time will tell surely.” Blookist
Like the original Speakers' Corner in the northeast corner of London's Hyde Park, frequented by luminaries including Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, George Orwell and Marcus Garvey — as well as the average person — Medium offers a digital corner where oratory (and images) on any subject is allowed, as long as it is lawful.
In the evolution of communications, Medium aims to be a rare step towards well done.