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Medium v1


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A study of the Medium platform

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Medium v1

  1. 1. THE DIFFERENCE 1 January 30, 2018 Jen Serdetchnaia & Vanshika Sarin
  3. 3. THE DIFFERENCE 3 Online publishing platform Developed by Evan Williams, founder of Twitter, to empower self-expression in more than 140 characters Founded in August 2012 Social journalism / blog host Combination of amateur and professional people and publications Exclusive blogs and publishers 01 — WHAT IS MEDIUM ENGAGING THE MAKERSPACE JANUARY 30, 2018 Source:
  4. 4. THE DIFFERENCE 4 A place where advertising and popularity don’t matter, but creation does A place to teach, learn, create and share anything A place to learn from industry giants and DIYs alike Other examples of social journalism: Vox Media, Buzzfeed, First Look Media 01 — WHAT IS MEDIUM ENGAGING THE MAKERSPACE JANUARY 30, 2018
  5. 5. THE DIFFERENCE 5 In addition to hosting individual blogs, Medium also hosts user-generated publications and official news publications. On top of that, Medium is organized by category, which can make it confusing to navigate. Because Medium surfaces hundreds of articles to each individual user, some people say they rarely go to the Medium home site due to the cognitive overload. Instead, they access the articles that are promoted via other platforms or from notifications from authors or publications they’ve specifically followed. Clean design with a lot of white space and mostly centred content that doesn’t scale or bleed, with some bleed-to-edge to distinguish certain publications. 01 — HEURISTIC EVALUATION AKA. A TOUR OF THE SPACE ENGAGING THE MAKERSPACE JANUARY 30, 2018
  6. 6. THE DIFFERENCE 6 HOME PAGE Some may say home page is hard to follow, with a top level navigation showing categories with progressive disclosure, recommended stories for the user from different blog clusters based on an unknown algorithm, and an endless scrolling page highlighting categories, “New from your network”, “You might like” and more. Content is centred - does not bleed to edges.
  7. 7. THE DIFFERENCE 7 ENDLESS TOP-LEVEL NAVIGATION Progressively disclosed in a carousel STORY PREVIEW WITH MANY OPTIONS Shows a thumbnail, a headline, a preview, a publication (if the story belongs to one), the author, the date of publishing, the length of the article, and actions to bookmark the story for later or to alter the algorithm
  8. 8. THE DIFFERENCE 8 TOPIC CLUSTER Writers can contribute to specific categories, as organized by Medium
  9. 9. THE DIFFERENCE 9 OFFICIAL NEWS SOURCE Publishers with independent sites can also set up cluster homes on Medium. You can see that the story on the right shows that someone I follow or who follows me on Medium has “clapped” for this story. You can also see that I’m following the Hackernoon platform, and that I can communicate to them via Facebook or Twitter.
  10. 10. THE DIFFERENCE 10 STORY & METRICS Stories are set in different templates based on whether they belong to a cluster or independent news platform. I have the option to read the author’s bio, to follow him directly, and to learn more about him by clicking on the profile. I can interact with the article by commenting and highlighting, and also seeing top highlights. I can “clap” for the article to show my appreciation, Tweet it, post it to Facebook, or bookmark it.
  11. 11. THE DIFFERENCE 11 TAGS & COMMENTS Each story is additionally cross-tagged for relevant content. User interaction is encouraged at the end of each story, as readers and writers engage in discussion.
  12. 12. THE DIFFERENCE 12 WRITER PROFILE If I select to view a writer’s profile, I can see who else in my network follows him, his bio, any accounts he chose to link, his follower-following ratios, his stories in the cluster or category I happen to be in, links to other stories, and views of stories this writer has highlighted or “clapped” for.
  13. 13. THE DIFFERENCE 13 MY PROFILE Allows me to edit my bio, and to see any stories I’ve published, “clapped” for, or highlighted.
  14. 14. THE DIFFERENCE 14 Algorithm for how stories are displayed is not well-known but hotly-contested: the guess is that Medium attempts to balance quality and diversity Not time-based, like many content platforms Each user is surfaced hundreds of articles with limited prioritization 01 — ALGORITHM ENGAGING THE MAKERSPACE JANUARY 30, 2018
  15. 15. THE DIFFERENCE 15 Newly-introduced membership model: $5/month subscription in exchange for in-depth think pieces by prominent figures such as Margaret Atwood, and other publications Users say they are partaking in the membership model almost as a donation because they believe in Medium’s mission, with one user saying she doesn’t want to see Medium fail so she supports it: “Medium membership is totally worth it! I may not read many of the Members Only things, but keeping this platform alive and without ads is what’s important.” (KF, Medium comment) “If eventually just about everything is going to be paid access then the Internet just becomes the next generation of a cable subscription service.”(MT, Medium comment) 01 — MEMBERSHIP MODEL ENGAGING THE MAKERSPACE JANUARY 30, 2018 Source:
  16. 16. THE DIFFERENCE 16 Newly introduced Membership fee will help writers get paid on the amount of “claps” they get 01 — HOW AUTHORS ARE PAID ENGAGING THE MAKERSPACE JANUARY 30, 2018 Source:
  17. 17. THE DIFFERENCE 17 02 — WHY DO PEOPLE COME HERE? Due to aforementioned display model, users tend to come to Medium when prompted by a notification or promotion on another platform. Many users don’t often go to the home page due to cognitive overload Users come for recent, up-to-date content that they feel they can trust because it is user-generated and organic Writers contribute for the distribution compared to an independent platform, and because it’s a great place to sharpen thoughts, ideas and writing style, and get instant feedback ENGAGING THE MAKERSPACE JANUARY 30, 2018
  20. 20. THE DIFFERENCE 20 02 — WHY DO PEOPLE COME HERE? ENGAGING THE MAKERSPACE JANUARY 30, 2018 Quinzy Larson, Medium writer: “I am a developer and a teacher and Medium helps me connect people, ideas and code. I use Medium to write posts for aspiring programmers.” Sarah Cooper, Medium writer: “I have been trying to write for years, so then I thought of finally giving a shot. I felt like not giving it a shot was a higher risk than giving it a shot. Then with my one article I got validation that I could actually do this. This made me give up my job at Google and pursue writing.”
  21. 21. THE DIFFERENCE 2 1 03 — WHY DON’T PEOPLE COME HERE? While more people say they come to Medium to read, many of those users then drop off at the point of contributing, citing reasons around insecurity in sharing their thoughts and generally not liking to write. ENGAGING THE MAKERSPACE JANUARY 30, 2018
  22. 22. THE DIFFERENCE “I’m not in tech or design and it’s only for tech and design.”
  23. 23. THE DIFFERENCE 23 04 — WHAT THE INTERNET IS SAYING “Medium is Williams’ attempt to solve a problem most people didn’t know they had: In an age when anyone with a phone can blast whatever they want to the entire world, he thinks that digital publishing is still too hard for most people. It’s not just enough to post something, Williams argues — you want people to see what you’ve posted. Medium is supposed to solve that by creating a new kind of social network, one that makes it easy to find stuff you want to see as well as stuff you didn’t know you wanted to see. But by the company’s own admission, it hasn’t figured that part out yet, and only a small percentage of Medium readers log in to the service, where they can take advantage of most of its networking features. That means for now Medium is closer to Blogger, Williams’ first company, than Twitter, his second effort.” - From re/code’s Peter Kafka ENGAGING THE MAKERSPACE JANUARY 30, 2018 Source:
  24. 24. THE DIFFERENCE 24 04 — WHAT THE INTERNET IS SAYING Medium is tackling the challenge of how journalism is found and read on new platforms. Medium understands that taking the print content and moving it to the web is not enough and that’s what newspapers’ sites got wrong. Trans-modal translation is not literal. “Writing is not the same as being read…. Blogging has never been easier, but getting read has never been harder…. The problem isn’t freedom or openness but distribution…. Come for the great blogging tools and stay for the distribution…. Medium... [is] trying to be a discovery and distribution network.” - From Andreessen Horowitz’s Benedict Evans ENGAGING THE MAKERSPACE JANUARY 30, 2018 Source:
  25. 25. THE DIFFERENCE 25 05 — WHAT LITERATURE IS SAYING While there is no Literature on the 5-year-old Medium platform, there is literature on user-generated content, blogging platforms and social journalism. Additionally, there is a significant amount of literature on Evan Williams’ other famous start-up - Twitter - and the role Twitter has played in recent events. ENGAGING THE MAKERSPACE JANUARY 30, 2018
  26. 26. THE DIFFERENCE 26 05 — WHAT LITERATURE IS SAYING Daugherty, Terry, Eastin, Matthew S. & Bright, Laura. “Exploring consumer motivations for creating user-generated content.” Journal of Interactive Advertising, Volume 8, Issue 2, 2008. Dutta, S. (2011). The New Internet World: A Global Perspective on Freedom of Expression, Privacy, Trust and Security Online. INSEAD Working Paper , 35. Kuznetsov, Stacey & Paulos, Eric. “Rise of the expert amateur: DIY projects, communities & cultures.” Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon. Lowrey, Wilson. “Mapping the journalism-blogging relationship.” SAGE Journals, Volume 7, Issue 4, 2006, Pages 477-500. Nardi, Bonnie A., Schiano, Diana J. & Gumbrecht, Michelle. “Blogging as a social activity, or, would you let 900 million people read your diary?” CSCW ‘04 Proceedings of the 2004 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work, 2004, Pages 222-231. Newman, Nic. “The rise of social media and its impact on mainstream journalism.” Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism: Working papers, 2009. Paulussen, Steve & Ugille, Pieter. “User generated content in the newsroom: Professional and organisational constraints in participatory journalism.” Westminster Papers in Communications and Culture, Volume 2, Issue 5, 2008. Poell, Thomas & Borra, Erik. “Twitter, YouTubem and Flickr as platforms of alternative journalism: The social media account of the 2010 Toronto G20 protests.” SAGE Journals, Volume 13, Issue 6, 2011, Pages 695-713. Robin, B. R. (2008). Digital Storytelling: A Powerful Technology Tool for the 21st Century Classroom. Routledge , 220-228. Siapera, Eugenia & Veglis, Andreas. “Social journalism: Exploring how social media is shaping journalism.” The handbook of global online journalism, 2012. Stassen, Wilma. “Your news in 140 characters: Exploring the role of social media in journalism.” Global Media Journal - African Edition, Volume 4, Issue 1, 2010, Pages 116-131. Van Dijck, Jose. “Users like you? Theorizing agency in user-generated content.” SAGE Journals, Vol 31, Issue 1, 2009. ENGAGING THE MAKERSPACE JANUARY 30, 2018
  27. 27. THE DIFFERENCE 06 — SELF-REFLECTION ON MEDIUM ENGAGING THE MAKERSPACE JANUARY 30, 2018 Vanshika: I am not into writing or reading so much. The format with bold headings and visuals were eye-catching and gathered my interest. Medium is built with many features inspired by different platforms. It uses claps (like on Facebook) to reward bloggers, it allows note-taking (like in Google Doc), involves the Followers concept (like on Instagram). Great platform for self expression Possibilities of personal biases in the content , Is the content sensored ?Who sensors it?
  28. 28. THE DIFFERENCE 06 — SELF-REFLECTION ON MEDIUM ENGAGING THE MAKERSPACE JANUARY 30, 2018 Jen: I personally read Medium all of the time, mostly because of the interesting push-notifications I get from the app, and also the stories I see Tweeted that are relevant to me. However, I never seem to find the time to publish, because the sheer reach of the distribution network intimidates me when it comes to publishing something that isn’t perfect. While I find many Medium writers to be very responsive via linked social media platforms, the lack of direct messaging channel is unexpected compared to the affordance of other sharing apps (i.e. Instagram), and can make the community feel somewhat limited. I wonder about the inclusivity and accessibility of Medium. How does Medium employ diversity in its algorithm? Does Medium attract real diversity in publishing? At what reading level are most Medium articles written? Would someone who speaks English as a Second Language be able to participate? Are other languages welcome? Is there a missed opportunity? Finally, the UI is currently quite busy and confusing, mashing up elements from almost every platform we’re familiar with, and causing users to enter mostly via notifications. Can we introduce a streamlined UI that maintains the integrity of the platform?
  29. 29. THE DIFFERENCE 29 06 — SELF-REFLECTION ON THE ASSIGNMENT PROCESS Got me out of my comfort zone: Really cool to reach out to people with thousands of followers and have them respond Social networks really do work to meet people: my LinkedIn invites were accepted, I got Tweets back, and my Instagram direct messages got responses ENGAGING THE MAKERSPACE JANUARY 30, 2018
  30. 30. THE DIFFERENCE 30 Does free speech on the Internet still exist? 07 — IMPORTANT QUESTIONS ENGAGING THE MAKERSPACE JANUARY 30, 2018