Medium and Gaming the Message

I seem to have been following Ev Williams around the web for years.

After a few months handcrafting my own HTML and PHP pages during 1998-2000 I started with Blogger in 2001. I migrated to WordPress in 2005. Switched back and forth to Blogger (briefly) and various Google offerings but stuck with WordPress to this day across several personal, charitable, not-for-profit and commercial projects – with parallel publication of my main “hobby” (life’s-work) project to Medium since 2016 without registering as either subscriber or partner. Twitter I’ve had for over 10 years and for the past 4 or 5 is my social-media “channel” of choice. Facebook I barely tolerate as a channel for those genuinely social friends and family for whom FB is their only active web presence.

Blogger, WordPress, Twitter and Medium are all or have been Ev Williams projects.

WordPress is a wonderful eco-system – so much “free” open-source stuff in themes, widgets, plug-ins and integrations. You get what you pay for, I find, and I have ended up with quite a stack of hosts, licenses, accounts and services. Eggs in many baskets, so reasonably survivable redundancy, if now a little over complex and unsustainable in terms of cost and management effort. Ironically, the biggest unsustainable – and valuable – basketful of eggs is probably my Google / Gmail account. I’m looking at a serious rationalisation and consolidation task.

I’m thinking about Medium as my main platform. $50 a year seems a good deal. This Fast Company interview with Ev Williams from last year shows how he is thinking about the sustainability model for Medium.

Especially intrigued by this:

“figuring out signals of value that can’t be gamed”

Beyond “claps” (ie likes) and shares / comments, how is the quality of given content judged, and then rewarded by promotion and (potential) income. The current subscriber upgrade interface says:

“We’ll distribute your membership fee directly to writers based on how much you read, engage with, and applaud for their work.”

Read, engage and applaud. Ultimately it’s all algorithms, like FB and TW, the key question will be how “meta” they are to the variables being logged explicitly and how non-gameable they will be to individuals, bots and campaigns.

I wonder? Signals of value that can’t be gamed is pretty much the focus of my life’s work.

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