Medium pivots (again)
It's actually difficult to remember a time before Medium now. The service seems like it's been there forever, but before it launched in 2012, we wandered the desert using Wordpress, Blogspot (ha), Blogger and other tools.
Medium, since then, has pivoted so many times that it's difficult to remember. For a long time, Medium has been cast as the savior of the internet and publications have eaten up their shit:
- The forrest gump of the internet
- Ev Williams has big plans for Medium 3.0
- The internet is broken, Ev wants to fix it
- For his next act, Ev Williams wants to fix the internet
Can someone please stop Ev from touching the internet? Medium pivoted earlier this year to this new paid subscription model that it's offering, and the deal is simple: give us $5 per month, and we'll give you content as well as pay writers.
Why did Medium pivot? Well, its last big pivot that focused on publications over individual writers didn't work. And the other pivot where it started to let people paywall their own publications to help monetize their writing also didn't work.
There's a problem over at Medium: it can't be trusted. Today, we've gotten a prime example of this at work, with Medium abruptly backing away from direct-to-reader subscriptions, and cutting them off entirely from thousands of dollars in revenue.
It's one thing to offer tooling for publishers to move on themselves, it's another to just leave them hanging – which is exactly what happened. Publishers aren't able to shift existing subscriptions elsewhere, with Medium instead requiring them to convince them to resubscribe.
Naturally, Ev says that the new Medium model is working, but it hasn't said anything about how much money it's making or the actual overall growth. In other words, it's nothing to write home about.
I've written stories that I've put behind Medium's paywall as an experiment in the past, and the pay wildly varies even across stories that perform similarly. It might be $5 or $300, there's just no way to know, and that's not sustainable.
I hope Medium succeeds at this whole thing, but I'm not convinced bundled content can work like this. We're already facing a bleak future for most publications except the largest and Medium's attention span doesn't really seem to be adequate to actually help.
What's a shame is that Medium is where all the good content is. It's ruined our expectations for quality of reading experience, killed the urge to self-host a blog and swallowed everyone whole. What happens if it just runs out of cash? It's scary to consider.
(By the way, thanks for subscribing... it means a lot).
Spotify now blocks hateful content on its service
Spotify quietly introduced, then almost immediately used, a new abuse tool that monitors for hateful conduct on its service and stops featuring artists' albums that violate it in automated playlists, losing huge exposure opportunities.
It's interesting to consider: music has always been pushing the envelope, and what should define hate on a music streaming service? Spotify finally has a policy:
We’ve also thought long and hard about how to handle content that is not hate content itself, but is principally made by artists or other creators who have demonstrated hateful conduct personally. We work with and support artists in different ways – we make their music available on Spotify and help connect them to new and existing fans, we program and promote their music, and we collaborate with them to create content. While we don’t believe in censoring content because of an artist’s or creator’s behavior, we want our editorial decisions – what we choose to program – to reflect our values.
The policy was first used on R. Kelly's music, as the result of his real-world behavior and the fallout that came from it. He was accused of sexual violence, coercion and many other crimes in recent weeks, and Spotify is essentially weighing in by choosing to ensure it isn't endorsing artists that break the law.
What's difficult to reconcile is that this is the only artist to be demoted under these rules, and there are others with similar crimes to their name on the platform. Spotify has every right to not endorse these artists, but it needs to police them equally, and consistently, not just when it has a PR problem.
Apple kills Irish datacenter project
Just two complaints are responsible for killing Apple's billion-dollar datacenter project in Ireland... so Apple killed it.
Klout is dead (what was your score?)
A great interview piece talking with Google's Material Design team on its next big thing