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Medium: Twitter co-founders’ new venture has an identity crisis

There’s a certain breed of entrepreneur that just can’t sit still. They’re always thinking about the next big thing, the next industry to disrupt. Medium, the new publishing platform from Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams, is a case in point.

As FastCompany notes, Medium is essentially a blogging platform which, at the moment, is only open to a few select authors. It’s not exactly short on ambition either.

In a post introducing the platform Williams essentially states that the Medium is meant to be the next “evolutionary leap” in the social, self-publishing revolution that Blogger started back in 1999. As far as the Twitter co-founder is concerned we’ve done pretty well when it comes to sharing information with people, but have hit a few speed bumps when it comes to ensuring that information is of a consistently high quality:

Lots of services have successfully lowered the bar for sharing information, but there’s been less progress toward raising the quality of what’s produced. While it’s great that you can be a one-person media company, it’d be even better if there were more ways you could work with others. And in many ways, the web is still mimicking print concepts, while not even catching up to it in terms of layout, design, and clarity of experience.

Williams also says that the platform allows people to choose what level they want to contribute at, although his description doesn’t exactly set it apart from most of the mainstream social networks out there today:

Medium is designed to allow people to choose the level of contribution they prefer. We know that most people, most of the time, will simply read and view content, which is fine. If they choose, they can click to indicate whether they think something is good, giving feedback to the creator and increasing the likelihood others will see it.

People can also upload different kinds of content into different “collections”, which are defined by a theme and a template. Some are dedicated to writing and are styled like a traditional blog, others meanwhile are image-based — more like Pinterest and Tumblr.

It’s an interesting idea, but it could potentially be problematic. Twitter was a run away sensation because it did one thing really well — 140 character posts and observations from people. The reason Pinterest was one of the fastest social networks to 10-million users was because it was a place where people could easily share beautiful things in an appealing place.

And that’s where Medium’s identity crisis comes in. It’s “like” a lot of things, that it’s trying to squash into one place, but the over all package doesn’t seem unique. Yet. Bear in mind that what’s up now is just a preview.

Stone and Williams have all the right ingredients and experience on their, but you’ve got to be careful when mixing so many diverse elements together. They could end up with a delicious beef bourguignon, but they could also end up with Pig Swill. After all, even Heston Blumenthal makes mistakes from time to time.

Author | Stuart Thomas

Stuart Thomas
Stuart is the editor-in-chief of Engage Me Online. After pursuing an MA in South African literature, he spent five years reporting on the global technology scene. Intrigued by the intersection of technology and work, he joined Engage Me as the editor-in-chief. He is a passionate runner, and recently ran... More

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