Audacious Fox

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Companies that aren’t tracking towards profitability either die or raise more cash—that’s obvious and not why I’m linking to this story. What makes this piece by Jim Edwards, Business Insider, interesting are the readership stats and hint towards future product direction for Medium:

The site currently has 90 million unique users each month, and publishes 20,000 articles per day, mostly from writers creating one-off articles. It recently moved away from selling advertising as a revenue model to a subscription paywall, in which readers are asked for money if they see more than three stories per month. […]

The investment will go into Williams’ effort to make Medium a bit more like a vast, thoughtful magazine. What started as a longform blogging platform is looking more and more like The Atlantic crossed with Wikipedia. Williams has a corp of editors who are paying fees or commissions to writers for high-quality material, and then keeping that high-quality content behind the paywall. While the majority of Medium’s writers are amateurs writing for coffee money, the professional work — which feels a lot like the journalism you’d see in a monthly magazine — will get much of the investment, he said.

(Some additional, unverified—but I trust them—stats from Twitter user Kontra add that Medium has around 20 million articles across the entire site.)

If Medium is to truly become a “vast, thoughtful magazine” then I think the days of using Medium as an online home for your identity and writing are stone cold dead. Find a new platform—many already are. Starting a blog on Medium today is the equivalent to buying a deed for a house that is already on fire.

Which, so long as you know what you’re getting into, is fine I guess. At least Medium is finally acknowledging that Medium is the brand, not you. In which case, a high-quality, diversely-written, and digital magazine sounds sort of compelling. With enough contributors and content, the law of large numbers suggests Medium editors could curate a fresh batch of good reads every day. Will it be good enough for people to pay, though?

And all of this sidesteps the fact that reading anything on Medium is a mess right now. If I’m not being interrupted to sign up for an account then the abundance of ancillary visual garbage taints what might otherwise be an OK reading experience. Add on the litany of trackers, analytics, and other JavaScript that every page seemingly requires and it’s, well, bullshit.

It’s gotten to the point that medium.com has joined linkedin.com as a URL that elicits Pavlovian-driven dread whenever there’s something there I want to read. Yet, regularly, there is something there I want to read, which at least for now seems to be one of the few positive things Medium has going for it.