What is the Medium?

Medium.com is working to remake online publishing.  Again.

Medium.com is a project of Ev Williams.  His creds for remaking media are impressive.  He was a co-founder of blog pioneer Blogger and then of micro-messaging pioneer Twitter. Both companies changed the way the world communicates.  Blogs turned every person into a publisher, and twitter wired up the global nervous system.

The rolls-royce domain name gives the site a primacy of placement, and telegraphs the scope of the founder’s ambition.  It’s reasonable to assume that Medium.com was a 6 figure, and perhaps a 7 figure, purchase.  We’re looking here at another bid to remake media.

“It’s not too late to rethink how online publishing works and build a system optimized for quality, rather than popularity. Where anyone can have a voice but where one has to earn the right to your attention. A system where people work together to make a difference, rather than merely compete for validation and recognition. A world where thought and craftsmanship is rewarded more than knee-jerk reactions.”

from Welcome to Medium

It’s hard to read “Medium.com” without recalling Marshall McLuhan’s seminal and concise teaching – “The Medium is the Message.”  McLuhan seemed to presage the birth of Twitter in particular when he spoke of the explosive impact of electronic media.  Instant information overthrows governments.  And more.

It’s that kind of understanding of the sensitive dependance on the structure of the medium that seems to be underlying the work of the company.  They’re creating a publishing system that aims to improve the quality of conversation, and they’re doing it from the medium on up.