Hey, Ev Williams. This is all good and interesting news.
I’ve been writing on Medium for a few years (sometimes paid, sometimes not!) and I welcome these changes — especially the mentions.
I get asked a lot why I publish here instead of on my own site. One of the things that takes a while to explain is that the network here is powerful. When I write and a piece receives recommendations, my work makes its way into people’s email digests; I end up on their apps. And as a result Medium delivers the first few hundred readers to me, and those are the people who decide if a piece is worth sharing or tweeting. It helps me broadcast, basically. Of course not every piece hits; many just die on the vine. But that network effect of recommendations and followers is powerful here in a way that it never was on Twitter, or on any other social network I’ve used.
I’ve been thinking about what that means as a writer. In particular, this month I set up a company with Rich Ziade, and we got a custom Medium domain — posts.postlight.com. We wrote a couple of posts, and saw many thousands of readers for what was, at essence, a company announcement. The readers were totally free to ignore what we’d written but an awful lot of them stuck around through a few hundred words to learn about our new company.
I went into that with some trepidation — was I exploiting my own network somehow? Was that cheating, to switch contexts? Would I squander goodwill? But the reality is that people don’t read what they don’t want to read. And ultimately we hope to use that custom domain not for corporate promotion but for big opinions, and as a place where the employees of our agency can publish and push their ideas about software and programming.
I’m still working out what it means to have an identity that is both personal and professional in the same place, associated with my writing. And to be publishing into a platform that is, in obvious and non-obvious ways, actually a social network. Sometimes it feels a little weird and new, and I’m not 100% sure of my footing. But there’s no network quite like it, and it sure is easy to type into.