Some day soon, I think, Medium will be recognized as a case study in avoidable failure.
Nothing hits the world of online platforms harder than high interest rates, and as venture capitalists try to claw back their speculative investments to see how much of their money is actually left, the perennially unprofitable Medium will probably get sold for pennies on the dollar to some billionaire whose 23-year-old daughter wants to be the CEO of her own boutique propaganda service.
Not that long ago, Medium was a user-friendly platform that promised authors decent money for self-published writing that attracted significant interest.
Although it was founded in 2012, the Golden Age of the platform — at least in my opinion — was during the Trump years of 2016–2020, when political tensions were high and people were doom-scrolling to find out what fresh hell Trump was about to unleash on America.
But in the immortal words of Wyclef Jean, “that was then, this is now.”
Two and a half years after the Trump regime ended, Medium has become a directionless dystopia of engagement whores, social justice warriors, and neurodivergent English majors who think they’re experts on everything from gender dysphoria to the war in Ukraine.
What went wrong?
First of all, Substack is eating Medium’s lunch.
While Medium futzes around with their algorithms and payment models in a clownish array of opaque pivots, Substack provides authors with a straightforward, transparent way to attract readers and monetize content.
Secondly, Medium has failed to adopt a sensible lifecycle model that would bring in good new writers, build them up, and then cut them loose after they’d gotten Internet famous in order to make room for other voices.
The fact that Tim Denning, Jessica Wildfire, and Umair Haque are still being rewarded for turning out endless clickbait is all the evidence you need that Medium is patently unable to revalue itself.
What’s most outrageous, in my opinion, is the knowledge that these people are probably not authentically behind their brands anymore. These brands were likely sold long ago or else they represent writing collectives that publish…