we don’t need Medium

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…

I Read Only Books by Women For a Year: Here’s What Happened

If KT Bradford’s challenge to consciously expand your literary horizons isn’t for you, cool. But if it makes you angry, even if it’s not angry enough to take to the internets and rage, then maybe just take a moment and ask yourself why. If you come up with a good reason, then by all means carry on, I guess, though as someone with long-standing anger management issues I can say from my personal experience that acting in anger has never worked out particularly well for me. I can also say that consciously challenging my defaults and worldview has always, in my experience, been profitable, and making alterations in the parts that don’t hold up to honest scrutiny has driven my evolution not only as a reader but as a human being for my whole adult life. Personally, I’d wager that the angrier the challenge to read outside your comfort zone makes you, the more likely you are to profit by it. But that’s just my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

But if you look at your reasons and they maybe don’t hold up as well as you thought they did, then maybe it’s worth trying whatever version of the challenge is most amenable for you. Try it for a month. Or three, or six. Hell, try it for one book. As my father was wont to say when I was growing up, you can stand on your head in shit for [finite period of time]. If it doesn’t work out, okay, you gave it a shot. Maybe try again sometime, whatever. What’s the worst that could happen? What’s the best?

Dallas Tailor