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Twitter and Medium warnings

Monday, 25 January, 2016

“Look at how slowly Twitter has improved their platform, and all the new features are for advertisers, not for writers. I suspect Medium will go down a similar path.” So writes Dave Winer in a terrific blog post titled Anywhere but Medium. It’s an urgent warning to writers about the dangers of building their houses on someone else’s land.

Launched by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams in 2012, Medium is a publishing platform that describes itself as “a community of readers and writers offering unique perspectives on ideas large and small.” After the announcement of Twitter’s IPO in 2013, one report speculated that Williams, with a 30 to 35 percent stake in the company, would see his wealth grow from $2 billion to $8 billion. Now, he’s in dangers of becoming a millionaire. Twitter is flirting with being the oil of the social media industry and its stock value has dropped more than 50 percent in the last 12 months.

Something had to go and in a remarkable coincidence last night, four top @twitter executives suddenly felt the pressing need to spend more time with their families. “Big Exec Departures at Twitter: Media Head Stanton and Product Head Weil Leaving” is how Re/code broke the story. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded with a tweet in which he sought to “set the record straight.” But nobody is being fooled by the “well-deserved time off” line.

Mark Little, who set up News Corp-owned social news agency Storyful, is the new Twitter vice-president of media for Europe and Africa and he proclaimed to be “heartbroken” by the leave-taking of Katie Jacobs Stanton:

All this heartbreak and gratitude brings us back to Dave Winer and his brave and valuable post about the dangers of a monocultural Medium monopoly:

“Medium is on its way to becoming the consensus platform for writing on the web. if you’re not sure you’re going to be blogging regularly, the default place to put your writing is Medium, rather than starting a blog on Tumblr or WordPress.com, for example. I guess the thought is that it’s wasteful to start a blog if you’re not sure you’re going to post that often. It’s something of a paradox, because blogs are not large things on the storage devices of the hosting companies…

… Medium is a startup, a well-funded one for sure, but they could easily pivot and leave all the stories poorly served, or not served at all. I’m sure their user license doesn’t require them to store your writing perpetually, or even until next week…

…You have a choice. Post your writing to places other than Medium. And when you see something that’s interesting and not on Medium, give it some extra love. Push it to your friends. Like it on Facebook, RT it on Twitter. Give people more reasons to promote diversity on the web, not just in who we read, but who controls what we read…

Can we reserve competition in the middle of the web, so we get a chance for some of the power of an open platform for the most basic type of creativity — writing?

When you give in to the default, and just go ahead and post to Medium, you’re stifling the open web. Not giving it a chance to work its magic, which depends on diversity, not monoculture.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times explains Twitter. It’s that man Trump, again:

New York Times


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