Medium, The Magazine

Jonathan Poritsky on how he views Medium:

My question, though, is: then what? You can make a name for yourself with exposure, but you can’t pay rent with it.

Now, I’m not paying rent with the candler blog, either. But it’s mine. Everything that appears on this site, every last pixel, is here because I want it to be here. It’s my own little home on the web and if I want to turn it into my day job I could roll up my sleeves and give that a try. The same can’t be said for Medium.

Poritsky nails it.

Three points I want to add:

  1. One shouldn’t compare Medium with services like WordPress.com because, while successfully touted as such, Medium isn’t a service. It’s a magazine. The only “service” in Medium is the service that (mostly) unpaid writers do in return for the potential exposure. Authors that have their own sub-page with a picture and a list of their articles is something online magazines have implemented back in the nineties.

    The fact that anything written is also published shouldn’t confuse us, either. As a content-based website, one that relies on page views, this is a win-win situation for Medium: Your low and middle-grade content can still be spread to your Twitter followers and Facebook friends. It drives the traffic up but doesn’t bring the perceived-quality down, simply because the masses aren’t aware of it. To the common reader, this content doesn’t exist (and nor do you). The highly-trafficked masterpieces that are featured on Medium — while they do have a tiny picture of you and a Twitteresque byline — sit on one domain, and carry a cohesive layout and feel. Those of Medium.

  2. Medium is a self-feeding machine. The more writers that publish there, the more powerful the brand becomes. The more powerful Medium is, the stronger (and more natural) the inclination of aspiring writers to write there.

  3. Poritsky mentions John Gruber in the linked article. Given points 1 and 2, let’s think: Does Medium empower the Grubers of the future, or does it marginalize them? Does it help independent writers cultivate their “brand,” or disenfranchise them from having one?

I’m not arguing any of this is bad or good, but let’s call Medium by its name: A magazine. A different kind of magazine, but still.

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