Facebook and Medium

Two articles did incredible deep dives into companies that have been at the forefront of my mind for a few years: Facebook and Medium.

Laura Hazard Owen, writing for the Nieman Journalism Lab, takes a long look at the history of Medium with plenty of bumps along the timeline. Seven years of Medium is all condensed into an easy to read compilation of events good and bad. She wonders in the opening of her timeline about what the goal of Medium ultimately has been.

I (and many others) devoted what now seems like way too much mental energy to the Is Medium a platform or a publisher?” question. Sure, Williams’ frequently shifting stated vision didn’t help, but that angst still feels ridiculously quaint in 2019.

Why spend so much time worrying about what Medium is? Maybe because we wanted to know whether it was a friend or an enemy. The answer is that it’s neither. It’s a reflection of what the media industry has worried about, and hoped for, and not received. But Medium was never something that we would get to define. Instead, it’s turned out to be an endless thought experiment into what publishing on the internet could look like. That’s not much fun for people who got burned along the way, but Medium was never exactly ours to begin with.

I sometimes think I should get back on Medium and try and earn some coffee shop money and then I remember that owning your own platform is far superior than creating a sometimes blog on a site that continues to ebb and flow with its founder’s vision.

On a smaller timeline, but just as eye-opening, Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein, writing in Wired, does their own deep dive into the last fifteen months of Facebook as it comes to grip with all the ways it tried to fix itself in 2018 and how it all turned out.

Read the whole article, but basically it didn’t go so good.

Personally, I’m at a loss why anyone stays on Facebook and yet I’m still on the platform. At some point, I’m going to have to do a major digital/social media clean and reevaluate everything.

As I’m reading Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism I’m sure I’ll find some fresh ideas on how to do just that.

April 18, 2019