My family travelled out of town for 2 weeks in February. I had the pleasure of working for the entire time from the great cowork space at the Kamloops Innovation Center. A small incubator space, the KIC is filled with small startups and agencies. The director asked if I was open for giving a presentation, a short talk telling my story.
I was happy to oblige. My talk focused mostly on how we all have a story tell, whether you're selling a product or a service. But in my preperation, I came away with one realization. Although many forces and events have played a role in my career on the web, there have been two constants through it all: Twitter and my website.
It’s how my first business came into being. It’s how I had the good fortune to work for amazing companies like Campaign Monitor. And I’m betting it’s what leads to the next stage of my career (whatever that might be).
It’s not what you know, but who you know
This adage has played out in my life.
Owning Your Opinions
That said, the personal website (let’s just call it a blog, ok) is more than just a tool for connecting with others. Self publishing allows you to voice your thoughts. And it’s when others read your thoughts and share your opinions that the connection tends to take place.
As I’ve watched Medium grow, specifically in the last couple months, I’ve been thinking about the positive aspects of self publishing. As well as the ownership and control of your content. I’ve long been a proponent of taking the time to create your own space and owning your writing.
But I must admit Medium has been intriguing of late. As an experience, both for reading or writing, it’s pleasant. With the ability to highlight passages and bookmark entire articles, it’s great for readers. The attention to typography is endearing. Recent additions of custom domains and text shots add to the feature set, but without cluttering the experience.
Medium gives the writer who has no desire create their own online home a fantastic platform to share their thoughts.
But it's not a platform I'd use on its own.
Ownership & Your Space
My appreciation for Medium as a publishing tool is surpassed by my distaste for Medium as a storage tool for my writing. The lack of revenue and the inevitable placement of advertising aside, you're not in full control of your work saved there and only there.
This control does not include just your written thoughts. It's also the environment from which they're presented. You know what drew me to the web and the design world? Personal weblogs where the authors cared for the words the shared, but also how they looked, how they were presented, how the entire site was structured. It's been said before, but it's worth repeating:
The personal website/blog is like inviting the Internet into your living room, sharing a bit of who you are
That's exactly what got me hooked on the web … getting to know the people whose writing I enjoyed. And, as Matthew Butterick put it:
On the other hand, a necessary side effect of Medium’s homogeneous design is that every story looks the same.
Where's the fun in that? I see myself putting Medium to use as a syndicate for my own content, published first on my site. But on its own? Not a chance.
Sharing Your Opinions
As I’ve been mulling over the positives and negatives of a platform like Medium, it’s been a natural progression to reviewing the way I run my own site. To mull on the effect my own site has had on my career. And just how beneficial it is to have an online home.
As Frank Chimero put it at the end of 2013:
So, I’m doubling down on my personal site in 2014. In light of the noisy, fragmented internet, I want a unified place for myself—the internet version of a quiet, cluttered cottage in the country. I’ll have you over for a visit when it’s finished.
That’s exactly what I’ve always longed for my site to be to readers. It’s how I view the sites of my friends. Friends I’ve made over the years since I started writing online.
And one thing I stopped doing in the past years was sharing links. I made that decision early in 2013, but, like Frank, I feel like I’ve been spreading myself across several services rather than making a comfortable home. I’m not alone in going back and forth on how exactly to format a personal weblog. And like others, I feel the desire to bring things back under one roof.
It's been 7 years since I posted my first blog post to my WordPress install. It's been a great ride!
I was glad for the opportunity to give a talk and tell my story. It’s always good to look back and where you’ve come from and recognize what got you to where you are. This space is mine and I love taking care of it. And sharing it with you.