Medium is bad for the web. It’s just one more silo that people pour their creative work into, because it promises convenience and reach. And then it looks like your work is on the internet, but it isn’t, really.
And Medium is arguably more sinister than e.g. Facebook in this regard, because it looks and has been advertised as a place that’s all about content creators.
Well, it is all about content creators, the same way every other silo is all about their users, which is—to make a tired but utterly appropriate callback to 1999—the way the AI in The Matrix was all about human beings. 🤖
Proposed Indieweb slogan: Don’t Be a Battery
But a better one is probably just: Own Your Platform
(This outburst motivated by Instapaper’s inability to render a Medium article.)
- The article I was attempting to save for later was How to Configure Your iPhone to Work for You, Not Against You - it looks like an incredibly-valuable article. So it’s too bad Medium controls who can see it, and under what circumstances
- I should have added, when saying Medium is more sinister than Facebook: We all get that Facebook is a walled garden (it might be, at least for my generation, the prototypical example of such); most of what you put on Facebook cannot be seen by anyone who isn’t logged in to Facebook, which is a feature in many ways: privacy (nevermind that Facebook can see it). But Medium posts have URLs, which makes it look like they’re part of the web. But—and newspaper paywalls have this same problem—it’s when you try to share those URLs and are met with a doorslam, or try to save them to an API endpoint and it fails, that the facade shatters. Actually, Medium will decide whether you get to read the article or not
- A lot of writers may argue that they make money from posting on Medium, and that requires some level of control, because restricting access is what makes Medium content valuable. Which is just a return to the world of publishers / gatekeepers that the internet has let us escape. The reason Indieweb is crucial is because when a technological sea change levels the playing field between the powerful and the rest of us, it is inevitable that the powerful (and those who leverage the change to become powerful) will find ways to un-level the playing field again. If we don’t fight back, writers in 2025 end up just like writers in 1985: beholden to huge corporate interests that decide how and when and to whom our work will be presented… and whether we can feed our families with it.2