Ever since Medium opened its doors to the world it has attracted fans and critics. People that use it rave about its simplicity. Critics of the publishing platform (including myself) have voiced their opinions on why Medium is not for them. Its magazine format, “one for all” style and lack of custom domains was why it didn’t make everyone a fan. After its release, my opinion of Medium was that it wasn’t my idea of a good publishing platform.
Over the last few months though, Medium has in fact become a good source of content for me. Falling just behind my curated list of RSS feeds and my Twitter stream, Medium’s daily newsletter offers a daily list of curated stories from its users. I don’t see Medium taking the top spot any time soon but being a source of good content makes it hard to ignore. These stories are then added to my reading list. The lucky ones get quoted on my blog. I’m not a big enough sample set to say this is a sign of Medium’s impact on the world, but I’m surely not the only person who thinks that the Medium platform is a good source of content?
So what made Medium the next big thing in blogging?
Traditionally blogs were the primary means of publishing content. You could go down two roads.
The first was by using a hosted service such as Tumblr, Wordpress or Blogger. Through a simple sign up process, anyone could have their own little space on the Internet.
The second is to host your own blog. Thankfully things have gotten a little easier over the years to do this but it can still be a challenge if you’re not confident with the tools and services needed to make it happen. It’s not rocket science but it’s still a hurdle that many are willing to walk away from in favour of something a little easier to manage.
Over the years the hosted services have grown and matured, some have closed down, others have started up in the quest to be the hot spot for publishing content for the masses. No service has captured this idea like Medium has. Its basic process of writing and publishing makes it simple to put your stories out there for the world to read. The minimal floating toolbar for changing styles, the lack of distracting settings and the ease with which you can add supporting content like images to your story makes Medium an attractive choice for those looking for a hosted service. And that’s why it has taken off in the way it has. Its simplicity has captured many and offered the path of least resistance to publishing a story.
The benefits of Medium are clear but what about the drawbacks? Sure its look and feel is the same for all of its users and the choice of adding your own custom domain isn’t available for all. It will come soon though. These drawbacks are minimal if I’m being honest. When I look at Medium now I see that I’m nit picking at the platform which has become the killer app for publishing.
Which brings me onto my last point. Even though I’m not a user of Medium for publishing content, should I be that critical of it when it does allow people to share their content more easily than most other platforms? No, I shouldn’t. Any product or service that allows people to connect and share their experiences in a easy to do fashion should never be dismissed. It’s just not for everyone, but for most it is the ideal tool to use.
I used to be critical of Medium but my view on their service has changed over the last couple of months. Medium isn’t for me but I would recommend it for others that weren’t comfortable with hosting their own blog. Sure it has its drawbacks but so does every other publishing tool on the Internet including my own preference of Jekyll and Heroku. The reason I’m sticking with it for the moment is that it works for me.
Will I switch to Medium? Maybe. I don’t know. Probably not, but I am curious about using it for a short term period to see what it can offer, I just haven’t found that particular reason to use it yet.
Every now and again the conventional way of doing things is challenged with something a little bit different. Medium done that when they started and they’re still here today, daring people to change how they publish. Many have changed and even people like Jason Fried are giving it a try. Is this the end of the Signals vs. Noise blog? Probably not but the fact that the owners and employees of Basecamp are giving it a try is a testament to what Medium offers.
A bloody good publishing platform for the masses.