If Medium is exploiting you - that's your problem

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Welcome to medium
Matthew Butterick:

Among web-publishing tools, I see Medium as the equivalent of a frozen pizza: not as wholesome as a meal you could make yourself, but for those with out the time or motivation to cook, a potentially better option than just eating peanut butter straight from the jar.

He’s talking about typography – appropriately, given that his site is called Butterick’s Practical Typography and is stunningly lovely to read – but it applies just as much to running your own blog or site as opposed to just publishing on Medium.

And sure enough, he explores that idea:

Rather, because gentle scrutiny reveals that these systems are powered by a form of human fracking. To get his fracking permit on your territory, Mr. Williams (the multi billionaire) needs to persuade you (the writer) that a key consideration in your work (namely, how & where you offer it to readers) is a “waste of time.”

If you really believe that, then by all means, keep using the billionaire’s typewriter.

Make no mistake – the team behind Medium aim to make money from the service. And they’re already in danger of building an ecosystem of lords and serfs – those who get paid for their work, and those who don’t, those who get their own domains, and those who don’t – an elite of established content creators and the hoi polloi of mere users.

We’re a very long away here from the sense of the democratisation of publishing that blogging used to hold.

That’s not to say that Medium isn’t a useful tool. Or indeed, that this is inherently a bad thing, which it’s not. It just requires you to be careful in where you commit your time and effort; caveat auctor, if you like. Be sure you understand the value exchange you’re participating in. Your words will help Medium make money.

How is publishing them at Medium helping you achieve the things you want to do?

If you don’t have a clear answer to that, you’ve just been fracked because you like the new, shiny thing.

business modelsevan williamsfreefreeconomicsMediummonetisationstrategy

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.