We’re rethinking publishing and building a new platform from scratch. This is a preview.
Compared to 1999, the Internet has come a long way. It has gone from theoretically to actually central to how many of us live and work (even outside the Internet industry). We carry it around in our pockets—on computers with more horsepower and pixels than we had on our desks at that time. And we have innumerable options for sharing our cat photos, with or without a retro filter.
1999 was the year we launched Blogger. Ideas that seemed radical at the time—that anyone, anywhere could and should publish their thoughts to the global Internet audience (for free)—are now taken for granted.
Still, some things haven’t evolved as much as we would have expected. 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.
When you consider we’ve been publishing on paper for over 500 years and on the Internet for only a couple decades, it’s no surprise we haven’t figured it all out. It’s still early days.
Why Medium? Why now?
The Obvious Corporation decided to take on the project of building a new publishing platform from scratch, not just because it’s in our wheelhouse, but because we believe publishing—and media, more broadly—is important. It’s easy to forget this given how much pointless and destructive media is in the world. But there’s also more great stuff than ever before—and we haven’t even scratched the surface of what our smart devices and our networks that connect most of the planet might enable.
Media is still the “connective tissue of society,” as Clay Shirky eloquently put it. And we think it can be better. Better for creators. Better for consumers. Better for the world.
So, we’re re-imagining publishing in an attempt to make an evolutionary leap, based on everything we’ve learned in the last 13 years and the needs of today’s world.
That sounds pretty grandiose, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Truth be told, we’re just starting the journey of figuring out what all that means—and what we’re releasing today is just a sliver of what we’ve figured out.
How it Works
Medium is designed to allow people to choose the level of contribution they prefer. We know that most people, most of the time, will simply read and view content, which is fine. If they choose, they can click to indicate whether they think something is good, giving feedback to the creator and increasing the likelihood others will see it.
Posting on Medium (not yet open to everyone) is elegant and easy, and you can do so without the burden of becoming a blogger or worrying about developing an audience. All posts are organized into “collections,” which are defined by a theme and a template. (For example, this post is in the About Medium collection with a simple article template.)
We believe that good design supports the purpose (not just the appeal) of content, so Medium is diverse in look and feel—ranging from different types of articles to images to, eventually, much more.
Collections give people context and structure to publish their own stories, photos, and ideas. By default, the highest-rated posts show up at the top, helping people get the most out of their time in this world of infinite information.
Together, the contributions of many add up to create compelling and useful experiences. You may be inspired to post one time or several times a day—either way is okay. If you’re more ambitious, you might create a collection of your own.
We haven’t tied everything in Medium together yet, partly because we expect our ideas to evolve rapidly as we experiment and learn from usage.
Our philosophy is that quality begets quality, so we will grow Medium smartly, ensuring that our platform is valuable to everyone in this increasingly mobile, connected, and noisy world.
As of today, everyone (with a Twitter account) can read and give feedback on Medium. Posting is limited to a small invited list of friends and family, which we’ll be expanding rapidly—soon, to those who have registered, so if you are interested please do so.
Meanwhile, here are a few more collections you can check out:
Follow @medium on Twitter for more updates and reply there with your feedback.