The release of a new Publishing API for Medium was of interest to me. It’s no secret that I believe in both the idea of owning your own content and am skeptical of Ev’s track record with his products. Who knows what the future holds for Medium when Blogger and Twitter never made any profit with Williams at the helm.
How long can services that bring people but not profit continue dominating? I would be much more confident in a Mandy Brown led team at Editorially then Ev leading the Medium team, where the product is built off of venture backed dollars and his reputation. Will the product change significantly when investors finally want a return on their dollars? Will your carefully crafted article feature a lovely pop out ad for Ford or Snickers at some point? See ads in your Twitter and Tumbler timeline if you're skeptical.
This API points to a slightly different potential future. Whereas previously Medium could be alternate location of your content (by cross posting content you created and posted elsewhere first), now it can simply be an extension of your own site. Now, you can use it not less as a place to create content, but as a place to share content. Just another social network, albeit with far more characters allowed.
What are the benefits to this? For one, greater reach for many writers. While Ev struggles to build profitable businesses, you have to give him credit for building services that draw in people.
Jonnie Hallman stated this recently:
Forever frustrated by how much exposure my @cushionapp posts get on Medium compared to my own blog.
He later shared the exact numbers. I’ve wondered about this as I’ve not seen many people taking time to compare the reaction and then share the numbers. Is Jonnie’s experience unique because he has a large Twitter following, which can result in a lot of followers on Medium? Or is this indicative of the overall trend?
I can tell you my own posts on Medium have gotten little attention, less than my own site. But, I’ve not put any efforts into building an audience there.
But that’s the crux of my point. With the new API for Medium, a writer can work on building an audience on their own site where they are in full control. Then, with a flick of a switch (from IFTTT and its ilk, or right from a text editor like Ulysses), you can post your content to Medium, Twitter, and any other service. It takes only a little effort to have your content in two places (or more).
What will be interesting to watch is whether Medium’s commenting and highlighting features will then come into play.
Once you’ve decided to play along and post your content there, will an author have to shift focus to Medium because that’s where the conversations are taking place? Time will tell. We’ve had a long run of blog post reactions being taken to Twitter, or, if the respondent felt strongly enough, reactionary link posts on their own site. This functioned well.
So I write this from an app with Medium integrated and enabled to my own account. But as I’m leery of giving away content, I’m also leery of a free service owning the content surrounding my writing.
A writer does not own the reactions of others to their writing, but the conversation itself is of value. If Medium goes away, or becomes something it’s currently not and you want to leave, those conversations are tied to the platform.
The web is about connections. The conversation is the vital piece to all we do here. Let’s be sure not to give it away.