You might have heard a few things about Ev Williams and crew’s new product, Medium. To some, it seems like “just another blogging platform,” but if you think about where Ev and Biz Stone come from, these folks are pretty hip to next-level publishing.
I don’t have to remind you that Williams’ company Pyra Labs sold a little product called Blogger to Google, which basically helped revolutionize and democratize publishing on the Internet. Then, Williams teamed up with Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone on a little product called Twitter. You’ve probably used it a few times; I know I have.
This latest product, Medium, allows people to create collections of content based on a theme or subject, and then invites others to add pieces to those collections. It’s truly collaborative, and after using it for the past week, it actually excites me to write a personal “blog” again. But it doesn’t feel like a blog, it’s something new altogether.
Many have wondered how that is, but today, Ev Williams put it into words in a post on Medium.
The part that sticks out to me about Medium is the editing interface; it’s unlike other services out there in that you don’t have to click tons of buttons, open up different views and windows and other nonsense. Williams explained this approach:
As I’m writing this, I see not just a WYSIWYG editor, I see the page I’m going to publish, which looks just like the version you’re reading. In fact, it is the version you’re reading. There’s no layer of abstraction. This is a simple (and old) concept, but I haven’t seen it in any other publishing tool—unless you count Google Docs and the like, where you’re basically always in editing mode (versus always in viewing mode). And it makes a big difference. Having to go back and forth between your creation tool and your creation is like sculpting by talking.
There are those who would argue that when you’re writing, you’re creating the words—the story—not the presentation. Certainly, professional writers tend to be comfortable with that (perhaps because they know there’s a production process that will make their work look good). And there’s a good argument that content should be able to flow to many forms and presentations. I agree with that, but I still like writing in at least one of the many possible nice presentations.
The editing functionality in-line is gorgeous. Simply hover over selected text for options:
Williams mentions removing “abstraction” from publishing, and that’s something that Twitter accomplished as well. In 140 characters, you were moments away from connecting with millions upon millions of people all over the world. It feels like Medium could be that for longer-form content. If you think about its name, it even situates the service right between a full-length blogging software and a short tweet. It’s just…Medium.
On Medium, there are no widgets, no share buttons, no comments and no annoyances — it gets out the way of itself. Like a great product does. There’s also a budding community of writers popping up on the service as it lets more people in every day. The topics are anything from technology to more personal matters like relationships. There are no limits and you can collaborate with someone’s collection if they choose to make it public. It’s like sitting down next to someone at a lunch table and starting up a conversation with them sheeply.
Once you post, people can “recommend” what you’ve written, pushing it up to the featured area of the site. But it’s not about getting featured or seen, it’s about getting your words out of your head, somewhere. And that somewhere could be Medium for many.
On what’s coming next, Williams had this to say:
We have a bunch more ideas on how to make this editor even better—allowing people to let their brilliance and creativity flow smoothly onto the screen. We will evolve the editor to add power and flexibility without adding complexity or distraction.
Already, Medium has already become my favorite place to write. (I may be slightly biased.) I hope it will soon be yours too.
Medium is about storytelling, something I’m very fond of. In fact, the company is hiring for a role called “Storyteller.”
I’ll put my publishing trust in the Obvious team, because they know how it’s done. Some of Williams’ old crew is joining him, too, including long-time Twitter employee Luke Esterkyn. The company is also hiring more than just storytellers, so keep an eye out for even more talent to flock to Medium. In fact, Medium was just opened up to all Twitter employees. Maybe for reasons.
[Photo credit: Flickr]