As for that en­tan­gle­ment among sto­ries, Mr. Williams has con­ceded that it’s “confus­ing.” But this am­bi­gu­ity isn’t a bug. It’s an es­sen­tial fea­ture of the busi­ness plan. The goal is to cre­ate the il­lu­sion that every­thing on Medium be­longs to one ed­i­to­r­ial ecosys­tem, as if it’s the New York Times.

But un­like the Times, Medium pays for only a small frac­tion of its sto­ries. The rest are sub­mit­ted—for free—by writ­ers like you. Af­ter a long time be­ing elu­sive about its busi­ness model, Medium re­vealed that it plans to make money by—sur­prise!—sell­ing ad­ver­tis­ing. This means dis­play­ing ads, but also col­lect­ing and sell­ing data about read­ers and writ­ers. So Medium will ex­tract rev­enue from every story, whether it paid for that story or not.

In truth, Medium’s main prod­uct is not a pub­lish­ing plat­form, but the pro­mo­tion of a pub­lish­ing plat­form. This pro­mo­tion brings read­ers and writ­ers onto the site. This, in turn, gen­er­ates the us­age data that’s valu­able to ad­ver­tis­ers. Boiled down, Medium is sim­ply mar­ket­ing in the ser­vice of more mar­ket­ing. It is not a “place for ideas.” It is a place for ad­ver­tis­ers. It is, there­fore, ut­terly superfluous.

“But what about all the writ­ing on Medium?” The mea­sure of su­per­fluity is not the writ­ing on Medium. Rather, it’s what Medium adds to the writ­ing. Re­call the ques­tion from above: how does Medium im­prove the In­ter­net? I haven’t seen a sin­gle story on Medium that couldn’t ex­ist equally well else­where. Nor ev­i­dence that Medium’s edit­ing and pub­lish­ing tools are a man­i­fest im­prove­ment over what you can do with other tools.
In sum—still superfluous.

As writ­ers, we don’t need com­pa­nies like Medium to tell us how to use the web. Or de­fine open­ness and democ­racy. Or tell us what’s a “waste of [our] time” and what’s not. Or de­ter­mine how and where read­ers ex­pe­ri­ence our work. We need to de­cide those things for ourselves.

Matthew Butterick expresses in his piece one of the main reasons on why I’m not sold with Medium, and still prefer to publish everything I want over a space I can really control. Thanks to my pal Andrea Contino for pointing me to Matt’s article…

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