There's yet another way to post writing and photos and share them with other people online. Medium is a new blogging tool for people who feel constrained by Twitter and overwhelmed by Blogger or Tumblr.
Currently only in preview mode, the project is getting attention because of its founders' impressive pedigree. Evan Williams and Biz Stone co-founded Twitter and Blogger, so they know about blogging, both long and short form. Medium is the latest product out of their Obvious Corporation, which incubated Twitter in its early days, and the duo has a grand vision for the blogging tool, elucidated in a long announcement post by Williams.
"We're re-imagining publishing in an attempt to make an evolutionary leap, based on everything we've learned in the last 13 years and the needs of today's world," says Williams in the post.
For a project that is "rethinking" publishing, the first go is a blogging platform that recycles many of the best features already at work on other sites -- Pinterest, Tumblr, Blogger, Reddit -- and ties it heavily into Twitter.
The design is like a minimalist Tumblr or WordPress theme. Posts can be just a large photo, words or a combination. They are organized into collections, like Pinterest, and can be sorted by popularity based on votes from the community, like Reddit and Digg (there's also an option to view by newest first).
Clicking on a person's name doesn't take you to a landing page that shows you all their posts. Rather, you're whisked away to their Twitter profile, where you can scan for links to Medium posts they've created.
Following people isn't the point of Medium; at its heart are the collections which allow you to explore content by topic. Current collections include the photo-based "When I Was a Kid," a bunch of first-person stories titled "This Happened to Me" and "I.M.H.O.," a selection of editorial pieces on everything from Groupon to socialism.
The goal of Medium doesn't appear to be revolutionizing how content is shared, but to boost the quality of the content itself.
"Lots of services have successfully lowered the bar for sharing information, but there's been less progress toward raising the quality of what's produced," says Williams.
Medium gives people space to go deeper than is allowed by Twitter's 140-character limit, but there's no pressure to post regularly or have a branded presence. Voting and collections put the emphasis on surfacing the best content from a mass of people, organizing them into subject-oriented pages like sections of a newspaper. Users can wax poetic about their hopes and dreams "without the burden of becoming a blogger or worrying about developing an audience," says Williams.
Posting privileges are limited to a chosen few for the time being, but anyone can make an account, using their Twitter handle, to browse and vote on posts. The first incarnation of Medium might seem familiar and a little mundane, but it's clearly just a starting point for a team of experienced blogging and content veterans.
"We're just starting the journey of figuring out what all that means, and what we're releasing today is just a sliver of what we've figured out," said Williams.