Towards the end of last year, I came across Medium. If you don’t know what Medium is, it’s the latest brainchild of Ev Williams, co-founder of Blogger and Twitter. If you don’t know what Blogger and Twitter are, you’ve got some catching up to do. Medium was created by Ev’s company, Obvious (they were also the original team that created Twitter) with design help from Teehan+Lax. Read on to discover why I love it so much and why you should check it out!
“Medium is a new place on the Internet where people share ideas and stories that are longer than 140 characters and not just for friends. It’s designed for little stories that make your day better and manifestos that change the world. It’s used by everyone from professional journalists to amateur cooks. It’s simple, beautiful, collaborative, and it helps you find the right audience for whatever you have to say” – Ev Williams.
Even though Medium has been around for over a year now through private betas and invitation only signups, it only became publicly available in late October, 2013. It is still in its infancy but its user base has been growing rapidly with around 13 million active monthly users and I expect that to continue to grow considerably over the next year. As I said, I discovered it in early December of last year and have been hooked to it ever since. It’s become my go-to place for lunchtime reading with my sandwich at work and I rarely read something that isn’t at least intriguing.
In short, I would describe Medium as a beautiful website to read and create great quality content. It has been self-described as a “streamlined, distraction-free writing experience” and I have no argument against that. When writing a post, you are presented with a completely blank canvas that focuses on the words themselves and nothing else. No interface disrupting the environment. No profiles or related content to distract you. Just a pure white screen — with space to write a title, subtitle and then your story. It’s gorgeous. To format sections of the text, you only have to highlight it and the relevant interface becomes visible à la iOS style.
Teehan+Lax have a great case study that explains their story of how the product was built and the impressive time that it was built in. You can read it on their site here.
To find and read content on Medium, you can either let the site aggregate interesting posts, or you can follow specific collections of user’s posts where the content is curated by the collection owner. All posts are then gathered into your reading list waiting for you to read them. There’s no pressure of time-based media forcing you to read it now (and only now!) like there is on other social networks. There’s even a handy little indicator telling you how long — in minutes — something will take to read so that you can gauge which is the best post to read in your own time.
Reading content on Medium is equally as beautiful as writing on it. The typography is extremely legible and photos are displayed in a fantastic full bleed method, or inline with the rest of the text. Comments are in the form of notes and can be applied alongside individual paragraphs; which is actually very useful, as you can read people’s opinions and even thoughts from the Author right alongside the flow of the text. When you reach the end of a post, you can ‘Recommend’ it which adds to its popularity and increases its chances of being viewed by more people. You can even suggest ‘Further Reading’ for people to find other related content around the web. At the very bottom of the screen is the next post in your reading list, ready and waiting for your tempting click. One click and it will dynamically load in your browser with a nice transition hand-in-hand.
I highly recommend having a look at Medium and even signing up for an account with your Twitter account (this is a product of Ev Williams, remember?). If you’re one of my many friends who studied Journalism at Uni, this is definitely for you. To be involved with a platform so fresh to the world with the potential for success calculated from existing successes such as Blogger and Twitter; is an opportunity you cannot dismiss.
You can even have a look at my profile to see what I’ve been recommending and even see what I’ve been writing: @joeallam on Medium
My first post is my first in a series of efficiency related posts that I will be writing both here on this blog and on Medium: Make Your Future Self, Thank Your Past Self
I don’t think the success of Medium will be in the same direction as Twitter, as it appeals to a slightly different audience and user; yet I am extremely interested in how it will develop over the next year.
Update: Medium have now released an iPhone app purely for reading. They’re really trying to maintain the quality of the content on the site and would clearly prefer people to sit down in front of their computer to craft something brilliant, rather than scribble something together on the train home from work. Go take a look at it on the App Store, they’re added some simple gestures that make the whole experience even more engaging.
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