Whither Medium?

I subscribe to Medium. It’s not expensive: $5.00 per month. I also pay about that much to many newsletters (mostly because Substack makes it so easy). And that’s 0n top of what I also pay The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Reason, The Sun, Wired, and others that aren’t yet showing up on the giant spreadsheet I’m looking at, with expense-cutting in mind.

I started blogging in Medium because Ev Williams created it, with lots of noble intentions, and I wanted to support Ev and his work. I also liked its WYSIWYG-y approach to composing pages. And I liked the stats, though I mostly stopped looking at them after they defaulted to highlighting how many claps a piece gets. I never liked the claps thing.

I forget when and why I started paying. I half remember that it was around when they pitched me on maybe making money blogging after the subscription system started up. I wasn’t interested in that, but I was interested in Medium experimenting with money-making.

But the whole system seemed kinda complicated, so I didn’t pay much attention to it. I just kept posting now and then, and it seemed to work well enough, I suppose because I didn’t see the paywall. Or worse, I did see the paywall when something I wrote got popular and became “Members Only” somehow.

I see the paywall now on this post by Doug Rushkoff and this one by Cory Doctorow. Yes, I can read their whole posts in this browser, which has a cookie that remembers that I’m a paying member; but it doesn’t on any of the other browsers I use for different purposes, and I don’t feel like logging in on all of them.

Call me old-fashioned, but I hate being teased into subscriptions. That’s why I’ve been dropping subscriptions to newsletters that tease readers into a paywall. I feel over-subscribed as it is, and the paywall tease is just rude. Ask, don’t coerce.

Here’s a lesson, newsletter writers: Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters From an American is the top-earning newsletter out there, and she doesn’t have a paywall. She makes all that money (an estimated $5 mllion/year) in voluntary payments.

The question for me now is,  Do I want to move my 105 Medium posts somewhere else, or just have faith that they’ll stay up where they are, in mostly readable form?

The one thing I’m sure about now is that I’m done posting there. Ev is gone. My own reading and writing energies are too spread out. One less place to write is a good thing.

I have three blogs right here using WordPress, and I want to focus on those, and on allied efforts that seem to be moving in the same directions.

Some of my old Medium posts may be worth saving somewhere else, such as here. But maybe what I haven’t yet written is more important than what I’ve written already.



4 responses to “Whither Medium?”

  1. […] Whither Medium? […]

  2. Seems like someone needs to solve the growing paywall crisis. It’s anti-democratic and anti-universal. Soon the government will have paywall subsidies.

    1. That’s a logical (or not) leap that makes sense to me. 🙂 While we Hmm about that, take a look at Solving Subscriptions.

  3. Thanks. Reading that post from 2021 has me asking, “have Nutrition Facts labels since 1994 made us a less obese society?” The labels were an every person for themselves (you know my favorite Herzog quote) bandaid solution that didn’t address the root causes of what makes Americans obese. Nearly 30 years of growing obesity proves this. And on the paywall side “open standards, code, and protocols” aren’t going to address the root issues; which is the fact there is no (digital) system of economic incentives and disincentives that work for both content producers AND consumers. You have, more than anyone, studied content models. “Free” content always came at a cost. In a one-way analog world it was your time. But now, in a two-way digital world, it is you and TMI and polarization and misinformation and… Worse it’s “you” at the margin. Everyone can be “disconnected” from everyone else and marginalized. Some hail that as “freedom” but it is the opposite. It results in slavery. That’s what social media has done. It’s amplified everything for the 1%, leaving the 99% with little voice or agency. And because of digital network effects that slavery has rippled through all our institutional and societal frameworks. Time to re-establish community and sustainable inter-working. The information ecosystem is just plain broken and risk is one-sided (on the side of the receiver; the sender bears little risk) because there are no two-way settlements where more than “your time” or “you” can be monetized more effectively. At the same time a lot of the 1% and bad actor problems are addressed. The paywall crisis is real and every producer and every consumer is an island unto themselves. We need a better economic information exchange model that is more generative and sustainable by balancing risk and giving voice to the 99%. where it counts at the margin. But then you knew I might say that…

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