Whilst sometimes it seems that there’s a new social network popping up every minute of the day, many of which fade swiftly into obscurity, some niche networks are more than worth taking a look at. This is especially true if you have a specific audience to address, or even a skillset that you want to showcase.
A new player on the scene is Medium, a site that is concerning itself with storytelling and all things writing and above all, a platform for sharing ideas and according to the blurb one that intends to “increase the depth of understanding, while also creating a level playing field that encourages great ideas coming from anywhere”.
What is Medium?
It’s basically an “open platform” for sharing stories and ideas and it’s not necessary to follow others or befriend them in order to read their stuff. It’s peopled by all kinds of writers, from journalists to stay-at-home mums and according to the site’s creators, Medium “helps you find the right audience for whatever you have to say.”
From the homepage, this simple, minimalistic, site allows you to scroll through stories that are concerned with a huge range of subjects, from “How Microwaves are Killing Us” to “The Problem with “Mukuru kwa Zuckerberg”.
Many of the homepage articles are editor’s picks and/or the ones that readers are enjoying the most. Once you’ve become a member, the site allows you to write your own stories, leave notes for other users and recommend the stories and ideas that appeal to you.
Becoming a Member
There is only one way to register to become a member for Medium and this for me is where it falls down. It’s only possible if you have a Twitter account for a start, as this is the only possible way that you can join.
Why I personally find this problematic is that I don’t like not having choice and I’m not overly keen on what I’m agreeing to when I sign up. The app gives Medium the ability to post tweets, look at your followers and follow new people and update your profile. It doesn’t access your password and it doesn’t have the ability to read DMs, but if you’re anything like me, I rarely use direct messaging on Twitter anyway due to it being very difficult to sort through.
Of course, Medium is far from the only app to ask for these kinds of permissions, but as it does, in my humble opinion, it should offer an alternative way in which to register and sign in. Call me cynical but I don’t like anything that asks for permission to alter my profile.
Saying that, according to the developers of Medium: “Don’t worry, we won’t ever change your profile, send tweets you didn’t initiate, or follow other accounts. Twitter only offers three levels of access. Our application, and most other Twitter enabled applications, uses the middle level (read & write). This level of permission allows us to enable following @Medium during the sign up flow, unless you opt-out of that option. We also use this permission to allow you to Tweet posts you enjoyed.”
Registration issues aside
The site claims to have one of the best composing tools around, with simple formatting options and is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWIG) editor in its truest form. The collaborative part of the site means that many of your stories link with others, if they are similar in nature making you a part of a “dynamic whole” apparently.
Readers can offer feedback before a piece even gets published on the site and when others make notes on spelling or grammatical errors, then you don’t need to make these public, you can simply adjust as necessary. For blog owners, you can also connect your own blog and use it as another marketing channel.
The site is also responsive in its design, so it’s easy to use on whatever device you prefer. However, you won’t be able to write to the site from smartphones or tablets as yet, although this is thought to be in the pipeline.
What Sets it Apart
Medium was created by the co-founder of Blogger, according to the site FAQ and so this is encouraging in that it’s a well-known platform and so this in turn means that surely the founders know what they’re doing.
In line with its goal of making the site one of the best storytelling platforms online, Medium is also “paying some contributors at competitive freelance rates”. What they mean by competitive rates is anyone’s guess at the moment, especially given the web’s past history of devaluing good writers in favour of cheap and cheerful.
However, it’s only a “tiny percentage” that get paid right now so if you’re looking for an easy way to make quick cash, it’s really not the platform for you. If you’re an established author though, you can pitch the guys with a story idea and take it from there. This does indicate that Medium are committed to ensuring that quality is key to the site, although it’s very nature makes it open to abuse on that score.
Should you Sign Up?
It’s one to watch, definitely. For myself until there are other ways to register, I’d rather not, as my Twitter account is quite precious to me (sad but true) and I don’t as a rule agree to terms such as those, even if the site promises not to use said permissions, as Medium does.
However, if you’re a budding writer and want to give it a try, then the collaborative features are ideal for gaining feedback from others. Writing is a popular hobby though and there are thousands, perhaps even millions of online communities that are dedicated to it, especially for those with a leaning towards the creative side of things.
I will be keeping an eye on the site for sure; incidentally I did contact Medium some days ago on the registration issue but have yet to receive a reply. If and when I do, I will give you all an update.