Medium: the latest innovation from Twitter co-founders

by Sahlia Painter

Twitter co-founders Ev Williams and Biz Stone at the launch of Medium

Ev Williams and Biz Stone – the incredible duo that are The Obvious Corporation and the brains behind Blogger and Twitter – have launched their third social platform Medium, which appears to be their answer to Pinterest.

Medium is a publishing platform that enables users to share photos, text and articles in collections that are presented in a Pinterest-style grid format. Medium does resemble Pinterest in many ways, with a similar layout and the ability to like and comment on shared content, which may prompt us to ask how is it different from Pinterest? According to their statement, Medium is what they believe to be “an evolutionary leap”, that lets users “choose the level of contribution they prefer”.

Images and text shared on Medium are categorised in groups that match with a theme and template. Medium is designed to be more personal and relevant to us and our lives, with less focus on consumerism. Where Pinterest is about ‘re-pinning’ images from other people’s collections, Medium is a platform on which we can share images of things we have actually done and places we have actually been.

The collections on Medium can either be closed or open – that is, users can choose to have their collections “read-only” or leave them open for collaboration with other users. One of the key differences setting Medium apart from Pinterest is that users don’t need to build a following to have their content seen. The collections are categorised in a way that means you see content that is relevant, with the higher rated images appearing first.

The key philosophy behind Medium appears to be diversity. As stated on their ‘About Medium’ page, “good design supports the purpose (not just the appeal) of content, so Medium is diverse in look and feel – ranging from different types of articles to images to, eventually, much more.” This leaves open the potential for Medium to grow and change down the track, with the subtle promise of even more content range and diversity.

While Medium is already starting to spark interest throughout the online social world, according to the developers it is still in development. On the website, they reckon that currently “everyone (with a Twitter account) can read and give feedback on Medium. Posting is limited to a small invited list of friends and family, which we’ll be expanding rapidly—soon, to those who have registered, so if you are interested please do so.”

Until it’s up and running in full swing, it is hard to determine the effect that Medium will have on social marketing practice. I imagine that its aim to be less consumerist and more personal will make it a less relevant platform for marketing than Pinterest or Twitter. Still, if the use of Medium for marketing purposes is thought about carefully and implemented strategically, the lack of commercialism could be beneficial for some businesses – but only time can tell.

The overall feeling that Medium gives is far less consumerist and much more personal. While various aspects of the platform have been seen before –  with similarities to Pinterest and Tumblr taken into account – the simplistic, minimalist approach and intellectual potential may set it up as the next big thing in the online social sphere.

by Sahlia Painter

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