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Medium, the New Thing From the Twitter Guys, Is... Wait, What, Exactly?

We Seem to Want to Like Whatever It Is

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A collection on Medium, where users will be able to post media according to themes.
A collection on Medium, where users will be able to post media according to themes.

Medium, the new platform from Twitter and Blogger creators Evan Williams and Biz Stone, is about "rethinking publishing," in the words of its founders. Exactly how it will do that isn't quite clear.

So a lot of the chatter so far has been about trying to just define this mysterious new place to post media -- while offering whatever it is a warm embrace (the Twitter guys have accrued a lot of good will in the tech and media communities). Drew Olanoff of The Next Web, for instance, tweeted, "Not short like Twitter, not long like Blogger. It's....@Medium," while Slate technology columnist Farhad Manjoo chimed in with, "I really like the idea behind @Medium. I feel like I've been looking for something like this for years."

But if you want a longer and more, well, poetic take on Medium, check out today's Nieman Journalism Lab post from Joshua Benton titled "13 ways of looking at Medium, the new blogging/sharing/discovery platform from @ev and Obvious." (That's a reference, of course, to the famous Wallace Stevens poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.") Benton's post scored an endorsement from someone very close to the effort -- Sho Kuwamoto, a coder at Medium parent company Obvious, who tweeted, "This is the most thoughtful article about our product that I've found so far" in linking to Benton.

That's saying something, because the post -- please check out the whole thing -- reads, in part:

I'm unclear who, beyond an initial crowd of try-anything-once types, will want to publish via Medium, as lovely as it is . Or at least I'm unclear on how many of them there are. The space Medium, er, mediates is between two poles. On one side you've got people who want to hang out a shingle online and own their work in every possible sense. On the other, you've got people who are happy in the friendly confines of Facebook and Twitter, places where they can reach their friends effortlessly and not worry about writing elegant prose. Is there an audience between those two poles that 's big enough to build something lasting?

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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