Medium, the Blog Host That’s Banned in Malaysia
Name: Medium (Visit Medium)
Type: Blog Host
Best Website For: Blog Host with a Clean UI
Reason it's on The Best Sites:
Medium is a trendsetter when it comes to blog hosting. The host has only been around since 2012 and has risen to popularity due to their simple, yet effective UI. Many bloggers exclusively publish on Medium.
We’ve been putting our energy at Medium into improving quality — hosting more thoughtful and carefully written content, and improving the reading experience. We want to eliminate distractions that get in the way of reading flow and reduce distortions that could undermine your trust in what you read on Medium.
To that end, we‘re adjusting our policies related to commercial content.
Ads, Promotions, and Marketing
First, we’ll be restricting some kinds of commercial activity that have been allowed in the past, such as sponsorships and links that are mainly promotional. Medium’s business has been ad-free for more than a year now. But some “ad-like” remnants that had value in the past are now less aligned with Medium’s model of using subscriptions and a metered paywall to provide the best quality user experience. This means eliminating certain features that are superficially free, but for which you pay with attention.
So, as of September 1, 2018, our policies will include:
- First-party promotion is allowed. You can promote your own work or goods and services you provide, like a link to your website or your book. For posts or publications run by a company (like company blogs), you can promote goods or services provided by your company.
- Third-party advertising and sponsorships are not allowed. You may not advertise or promote third-party products, services, or brands through Medium posts, publications, or letters. This includes images that indicate brand sponsorship in a post or letter, or as part of a publication name or logo.
- Images functioning as third-party ads are not allowed. Inline images or embeds that link out and function as banner ads for third-party brands will no longer be allowed.
- You must disclose affiliate links or payment for a post. Affiliate links, such as link out to Amazon with your code, or any other link out where you will receive a commission or other value, are allowed in posts. But, you must disclose somewhere in the post that it includes affiliate links. If you have received payment, goods or services, or something else of value in exchange for writing a post, you must still disclose this fact in writing within your post (as FTC Rules and Guides, and Medium Rules require).
Second, in preparing to comply with GDPR (the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation), it led us to step back, take a fresh look at our privacy practices, and renew our efforts to make Medium trustworthy. It raised questions about what types of data collection we should and should not allow through Medium. And in other cases, it led us to think about how to channel third-party data collection on Medium to make sure our users understand as clearly as possible what information about them is captured, by whom, where it winds up, and how it might be used.
As of September 1, 2018:
- Embeds that directly collect data through form fields will no longer be allowed.
This includes embeds that facilitate the submission of email addresses and other personally identifying information through forms (such as Upscribe or Rabbut) and the submission of credit card information (such as Gumroad). We understand that this might make life harder for writers and publications who want to collect information directly from users. But, we believe this change is necessary to ensure that Medium readers know where their data is going and how it will be used.
Going forward, if you want to collect information from your users, you will need to link out from your post on Medium to a form hosted elsewhere that makes it clear to a user that they are no longer in the Medium network. We are working with Upscribe, Rabbut, and Gumroad so that their services function in line with these Medium policies.
Thank you. We’re grateful for your continued use of Medium and appreciate your working with us to make Medium a place for thoughtful, high-quality stories.
Now, writers in Medium’s Partner Program can earn money for stories they publish in publications and can share Friend Links that guarantee that fans and followers can view their work
Today, we’re making two improvements to the Medium Partner Program that have been among the most-requested features since we launched the program in 2017. Both changes are designed to reduce trade-offs for writers: Writers no longer have to choose between earning money and submitting their story to a publication, and writers no longer have to worry about their fans not being able to read their work because of our metered paywall.
Partner Program stories can now appear in publications
First, we’ve removed the limitation that writers could not add Partner Program stories to publications on Medium. Now, all stories — whether in a publication or not — can be published behind the metered paywall and stand to earn money.
How do you do this? If you’re enrolled in the Partner Program, when editing your story, select that “Yes,” you would like to make your story eligible to earn money from the menu in the editor.
For more information — whether you’re an owner of a publication or a writer — read our FAQ.
All Partner Program stories get a Friend Link that bypasses the paywall
We are also rolling out a new feature to all Partner Program writers: Friend Links will give anyone free access to your metered story, even if they’re not a subscribing Medium member and have read their complimentary stories for the month. You can share a Friend Link directly or on any social media platform, and anyone who views your story through that link gets complete access with no restrictions. And, you’ll still get paid based on member engagement with your stories.
To get the Friend Link, simply go to the published story and click or tap “Share with friends” at the top left of the page. (This works for stories in publications, too — the link is at the top right of the page.)
Learn more about Friend Links in our FAQ. Happy sharing!
About the Medium Partner Program
We launched the Medium Partner Program in October 2017 to reward writers for their work. Any writer can join the program, publish stories behind our metered paywall, and earn money based on the value their stories provide readers, not advertisers. Learn more about the Partner Program and enroll here.
A non-exhaustive list of tips from our editors
Medium is an open platform and a publisher. Anyone can write a piece on Medium and, as long as it’s not in violation of our rules, have the potential to find an audience. We celebrate diverse voices and believe that good stories can come from anywhere.
We also care about quality. We want you to put your best work on Medium, and we regularly feature stories we think are great. To help you understand what we mean when we say “quality,” we’ve written up these guidelines. They are based on what we know works best for readers — which means they should work well for you, too.
- Write a clear headline. Readers have a split second to decide if they want to read your piece. Put a good, descriptive title and subtitle on your story. (Standard “headline” styling is title case for the headline and sentence case for the subtitle. This isn’t mandatory, but it’s ideal.)
- Your story should contain original insight, ideas or perspectives. Don’t just aggregate the work of others, and don’t plagiarize.
- Clean it up. We all make mistakes, but do look out for typos and janky formatting. Put care into your work.
- Avoid CTAs. Readers tell us that they find repeated calls to action — to sign up for a newsletter, to clap — annoying. Consider eliminating CTAs altogether.
- One of the things our readers like best about Medium is that it’s an ad-free zone.
- Please don’t publish stories with the primary purpose of selling a product or a service. Readers can see through content marketing.
- There are a lot of places on the Internet for clickbait. Medium doesn’t want to be one of them.
- Put a nice image on your story — just make sure you’re not violating someone else’s copyright.
- Finally, please don’t peddle pseudoscience or bad health advice. Life’s already too short to give people bad health advice.
In short, do your best work. People like to read things that are just good.
Kara Brown and Manoush Zomorodi discuss the power of voice, their favorite books, and fancy pasta
Last week, we released the first episode of our first podcast, Medium Playback. On each episode of the show, we invite a writer we love to the studio to perform a recent story they wrote for Medium (episode one features beloved author Roxane Gay) and then chat with us about it.
To make the show work, we were looking for hosts to introduce you to each episode’s guest and have a candid conversation with them about the story. We found that in Manoush Zomorodi and Kara Brown. In addition to being experienced podcasters, they also are accomplished writers, which means they know how to get inside our guests’ heads.
Our VP of Editorial, Siobhan O'Connor sat down with Kara and Manoush to learn more about what makes them tick.
Medium: What drew you to the project? Why Playback?
Kara: There are so many stories out there that you rarely get to do a deep dive. In this age when you have all of this content and all this work being done, it’s nice to actually take a second to learn more about the things we enjoy.
So it’s another chance — and a different way — to get a story in front of people.
Manoush: Playback isn’t just to introduce people to new stories but also to experience it again in a different way. We take in so much information on screens all day long. So as a journalist who makes podcasts , I really appreciate the power of voice. To hear someone read their words. What do they emphasize? What emotions do they imbue in the words they’ve so carefully crafted? The way someone says something can really impart so much emotional information.
Can you think of an example from any of the episodes where, in hearing the story, there was an emotion or nuance that was unexpected?
Kara: I find Roxane Gay’s voice so distinctive, so I like to hear everything she writes in her own voice anyway. But really hearing her go through that journey via her own reading made it even more powerful.
I had a similar experience with Roxane’s episode. Somehow the frankness with which she writes feels less frank and more emotional when you hear it.
Manoush: Baratunde Thurston’s a comedian, so when he says just one sentence you think, “Oh, I didn’t realize that was funny until I heard you say it.” In contrast, designer Mike Monteiro, who never has his voice out there, was equally powerful. He relaxed into the words he’d written and became passionate all over again about design and the ethical ways that we build our technology.
What do you think you can do with a podcast that you can’t do with your own writing?
Manoush: I do not feel as comfortable with longform writing. I wrote a book but it was painful. I really struggled. But I’ve been doing taped conversation and broadcast media for over 20 years and I just love it. I love that you can say a very short sentence but because of the way you say it, you can convey all kinds of meaning. Maybe that says I’m lazy. I’m not sure.
Kara: When I was at Jezebel, because of the nature of the site, people felt very connected to what I was writing. With podcasts it’s even more so and I’ve had to adjust. On Keep It, I’m in people’s ears when they’re driving to work or folding laundry. It’s very intimate. I was surprised by people’s reactions to it and how excited they were to meet me. At a live show people were running up to the stage, and I remember thinking, “Guys, calm down, it’s a podcast.”
Manoush, your work focuses on how technology impacts in our lives. I’m curious about your conversation with Baratunde about his data detox.
Manoush: I had done a project in January 2017 called The Privacy Paradox , where we got 50,000 people to do a weeklong bootcamp to investigate where their personal data is. I put so much work into this and been shouting about this for so long, but I wasn’t sure if there would be any change.
When the Facebook story broke, this became a mainstream conversation in America. It was really a relief. So to hear Baratunde take all that has happened over the past year and to codify it into this beautiful long piece felt very satisfying.
Kara, you wear many hats: you wrote for Grown-ish, Shondaland, and have a blog, Fancy Pasta Bitch. Tell us a bit more about that project.
Kara: The pasta blog is the silliest thing I do and it seems to elicit the greatest response. I bought a pasta machine around March of 2017, kind of in response to Trump being President. I wanted a hobby to take my mind off things. I made pasta one night and it was so good — I couldn’t believe I had made that. I thought, “This could be in a restaurant, I’m amazing. I’m a fancy pasta bitch!” I put it on Instagram and my friend Amina from the podcast Call Your Girlfriend messaged me, “You have to buy that URL.” And I had been drinking wine, so I went to Google and bought it for $15. I’m working on a new show called In The Dark. It’s a drama for the CW, so I’m trying to be a very dramatic person. So it’s nice to have the blog as an outlet for my dumbest jokes.
Let’s do a lightning round. What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?
Kara: The Truth about Animals by Lucy Cooke. It’s all of this insane information about animals and really weird things that they do. We don’t know how eels have sex. It’s crazy.
Manoush: I just started reading my friend, Elizabeth Wallace’s new book, The Ambition Decisions, which isn’t even out yet. It’s about 40 women my age, my economic bracket, and what has happened to them in the last 20 years.
What time of day do you do your best writing?
Kara: My best writing unfortunately is around 11:30 p.m.
Manoush: In the late afternoon or evening. I wish it was at five in the morning but my brain doesn’t function.
Favorite guilty pleasure TV show?
Kara: Literally every Real Housewives franchise, although I don’t feel guilty about it.
Manoush: High Maintenance, also don’t feel guilty.
What’s the most overrated aspect of summer?
Kara: The beach in L.A. Give me a pool any day.
Manoush: Iced coffee. I think cafes are keeping old coffee around and icing it.
Who on Twitter should we be following?
Manoush: Nein Quarterly. It’s German humor that’s not that funny and kind of negative.
What song or album do you have on repeat?
Kara: Cardi B’s new album. I have been a Cardi-Believer since the early days. I think everyone thought her album wouldn’t be good and it is and I’m very proud of her.
Manoush: Why Do You Always Call Me When You’re High? by the Arctic Monkeys. Because it reminds me of when I was 23.
What’s your favorite word in the English language?
Manoush: My ten year old and I think “dormant” is so good because there’s a lot of promise there, it just hasn’t come yet.
What is Article 13?
The European Parliament is set to vote next week on a proposed new law: the copyright directive. Article 13 is part of that law, and applies to “certain uses of protected content by online services.”
The world contemplated by Article 13 is a whole other Internet.
It would require websites and content platforms, like Medium, to use “content recognition technologies” to “to prevent the availability on their services of works or other subject-matter identified by rightholders.” In other words, to monitor and preemptively filter things that look like potential copyright infringement from content uploaded by users (leading some to call this a “robo-copyright” regime).
What would this mean for Medium and for you?
We built Medium to be a tool for creators. A clean, well-lit space for writing, and a smooth interface for getting your ideas out of your head and out there in the world. We’ve built features intended to foster an environment of respect for copyright, such as our partnership with Unsplash that helps writers draw on public domain images for their posts, and by providing tools to help writers license their works under Creative Commons terms.
We believe this proposal by the EU threatens to disrupt your ability to create and share your work through Medium. We know that for many of you, telling stories means drawing on all kinds of found material like images, snippets, and quotations, and turning them into (to name a few) mashups, collages, and memes. And you rely on the expression-enabling limitations built into copyright, like fair use, to do it.
Article 13 would mean that Medium would have to build or buy technology that would filter what you write and upload, and prevent you from publishing some of it. Automatic filters, we fear, would stifle this open creative environment. For example, a false positive hit on your image or sound file or writing as potentially infringing would mean that we would have to block you from uploading it. And while innovation in machine learning and artificial intelligence regularly astounds us, we believe that no existing technology is good enough to understand fair use or accurate enough to be trusted as a gatekeeper of expression. When it comes to creativity, false positives even in small numbers are not just a statistic — they are words that will never be read, images that will never be seen, ideas that may never spread, and creations that could die on the vine.
This is not the relationship we want between you, Medium, and the tools we make for you. We built Medium to help you create and read, not to monitor or stymie you. We support a balanced copyright law that will allow creators control and ensure they can get paid for what they create, but also one that allows creators (often the same ones on the same day) to comment on, repurpose, parody, or adapt materials to their purposes as part of the creative cycle.
We believe Article 13 is misguided and threatens to upset the delicate balance that makes for functional copyright law by pushing content platforms to impose technical restrictions on you at the moment of creation.
What you can do now
EU policymakers want and need to hear from creators.
On June 20–21, the European Parliament will vote on the Copyright Directive. We urge all Medium users located in Europe to contact your Member and explain why you oppose Article 13. Especially if you write or work with images on Medium — explain how upload filters will affect your ability to create and share your work widely and immediately.
All the information and every tool you need to reach out to your representatives have been compiled at https://saveyourinternet.eu/.
Article 13 would move us towards an Internet that is potentially vastly different and far less open to creativity. Please, take a minute to email, call, tweet, or use any other mode of expression to contact your Member of Parliament.
Recent stories that take a deeper look at the effects of technology on youth
TThe impact of technology is something that concerns us all, whether or not we have kids.
From infants and toddlers to teenagers and young adults, new generations are being exposed to emerging technologies, apps, and devices, and they’re having an effect that we are only beginning to comprehend.
What we do know is this: The decisions tech companies make about their products — and the way parents police their kids’ interaction with their digital selves — can have a lasting impact on the well-being of generations ahead.
We’ve curated a set of four powerful essays that raise important questions about the relationship between technology and future generations. We hope you’ll enjoy them as much we did. Next time you give “the talk” to kids around you, it may come with a lot more terms and conditions.
What happens when children talk to robots? Stuart Dredge analyzes how children’s behavior differs from adults’ because of their confidence and also their innocence. He concludes it’s not time for his own kids to have their own smart speakers just yet. (Also, check out his collection of essays, Little Minds + Big Screens for more insight on parenting in the age of tech.)
In a thoughtful essay, Corin Faife looks at an emerging cohort on social media: millennials with socialist leanings who use memes to deride — and present alternatives to — modern-day capitalism.
In this wildly popular piece, writer and mother Anastasia Basil immerses herself in the world of Musical.ly, an app that’s popular with school-age kids. In her deep dive, she uncovers some alarming social dynamics happening in the app and comes to the conclusion that the parental controls on Musical.ly don’t go nearly far enough to protect kids from corrosive and even dangerous content.
On Instagram, it’s easy for anyone to fall in the comparison trap. And while anyone can have a hard time stomaching the seemingly perfect lives of others, its the supposedly “rustic” or “authentic” Insta-lives that writer Ashley Abramson finds especially alienating. In this piece, she unpacks why.
The latest Medium app updates and design changes help you focus on the words
The Medium app is designed for people who love to read. Period. And that means our team is constantly working on ways to improve the way you experience stories on the app (on iOS and Android), whether it’s on your morning commute or cozied up in bed at the end of the day.
We always appreciate when readers tell us which features they love and which could use some polish, so we’ve made a few important updates over the past month to help you focus on the story — and not so much the screen.
For your eyes only: adjust type size, brightness, and night mode
Stories on Medium should challenge your mind, not your eyes. Now, when you’re reading a story, you can easily change text size and screen brightness. Or turn on night mode to prevent eye strain at all hours.
Read the best of Medium: featured stories front and center
There are millions of stories on Medium, so we want to make it easy for you to find great ideas every time you visit. So now when you open the app, the first thing you’ll see are freshly curated stories, hand-picked by our editorial team.
Need a reading break? Never lose your place
Ever get deep into a story when all of a sudden you have to take a call, head to a meeting, or otherwise hit pause on reading? With this new app update, we’ll remember where you left off so you can pick up right there the next time you open the app.
Big listener? Audio now has a home base
Members have been asking for a better way to browse and listen to the audio versions we produce for them. Now, there’s an entirely new section in the app dedicated to curated playlists of your favorite audio versions. If you’re looking for a great place to start, check out the Author Narrations playlist for stories read aloud by the writer or Unruly Bodies to hear our recent project with Roxane Gay.
We’re always working on ways to make the Medium app a word lover’s best friend. These updates are now available on both iOS and Android — just head to your local app store and download away. Thanks for reading.
Four Improvements to Our App, Designed for Your Eyes Only was originally published in 3 min read on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
How we are building a system for high-quality publishing at scale
In “The rationalization of publishing,”I argued that subscriptions for publishing on a wide scale are inevitable — and that’s a good thing. Now I will describe Medium’s unique approach to this opportunity.
First, in case you’re not aware, Medium has a subscription offering called Medium Membership. We launched it just over a year ago. Here’s what growth has looked like since then:
After a strong start (when people were really just subscribing because they believed in and wanted to support Medium’s mission — 🙏), and a mediocre middle (when we were figuring it out), we’re now seeing not only more subscribers, but higher-percentage gains every month this year (accelerating growth).
The factors driving this took us a while to figure out and then get into motion, but they’re gratifyingly simple. In fact, there are just two major 🔑s:
- Put great stories behind the metered paywall.
- Help people find the great stories they care about.
In these ways, Medium is not unlike other digital media subscription businesses like the Washington Post or The New Yorker — or even Spotify and Netflix. We sell content on a subscription basis. Like most paywalled sites, we give some stories away for free (currently, it’s three per month). But unlike most paywalled publications, we rely solely on subscriptions (no advertising), and we have a mix of original and non-original content. Medium is also an open platform, which makes it different than most premium subscription products — except for Spotify and other music services, which anyone can upload to and get paid (if they know what they’re doing).
Let me break down the various aspects of of the Medium model. Most of them are not, on their own, unique to Medium. But in combination, they create a powerful formula:
We offer a lot for a little.
As I wrote over here, I believe bundles are a large part of the future of content monetization. That doesn’t mean there won’t be lots of individuals subscriptions and patronage and other models that work — all of which help serve the cause. (It also doesn’t mean writers and publishers won’t be paid well.)
Medium is one of the largest bundles of original content of its type, so it’s a great value for readers. And it’s definitely the easiest way to get paid directly for writing, so we’re seeing rapid growth in people who may not have written on Medium before.
We welcome ideas and stories from everywhere.
I sometimes describe Medium as a system for moving ideas between brains. You could describe most of the internet that way, but at Medium we specialize in ideas that require a little space and thought — or, as we also like to say, smart thinking on things that matter. This has always been the point. And if that’s the point, why would you limit your source brains to those who work for you — or even those you know?
More than 50,000 writers publish on Medium every week: politicians, professors, storytellers, experts in your field, and people you’ve never heard of. The best of these stories contain knowledge and insight that can’t be found anywhere else. We take pride that we offer a level playing field for diverse voices from everywhere to be heard. By curating and organizing these stories, we have the equivalent of a publication with more talent than any other — and it’s growing all the time.
As it relates to the business model, a subset of the stories on Medium are behind our paywall and contribute to our Membership. Our Partner Program is designed for writers and publishers who wish to get paid for their work.
Our editorial team commissions original stories and uplevels organic ones.
We have no writers on staff and don’t plan to add any (except for marketing). However, we have a growing editorial team that is commissioning world-class writing by professional journalists and authors. The team is also partnering with some of the world’s most compelling writers on ambitious projects (like this one we just did with Roxane Gay).
We’ve also found that many great writers — especially, people who are experts in their field — are writing on Medium already. Since a little editorial guidance — a better headline, some nice art, a copy edit — can help stories reach even more people, we’re now working with folks to take their work from good to great and help it get the audience it deserves. This is a very efficient way to get more professional quality stories.
We partner with publishers on and off platform.
Our goal is to offer the best selection of insightful stories — not news — you can get anywhere. To do this, we go beyond what our editorial team and individuals on the platform create and partner with other publishers in two ways:
First, there are hundreds of small publishers on Medium that do original work. Some of them are in our Partner Program, which means they publish their stories behind our paywall and can get paid. We work with some of those publishers on a contractual basis to do original projects (like this great series on California politics).
Second, we license content from major publishers that are not on Medium. By doing this, we give our readers a curated selection of excellent stories that they can read and interact with in our ad-free environment every day.
We use personalization to deliver the best for each reader.
Finally, a key element of our model — and a differentiator for us — is personalization. We serve a broad set of interests — and we serve many of those interests deeply. We collect data — both explicit data (which we get when readers follow specific topics and writers) and implicit data (which is informed by which stories you read) — in order to suggest stories that we think you will be interested in.
Unlike the vast majority of publishers, we never sell your data to third parties or leak your activity through ads.
Also unlike how most of the internet works, we do not only surface the very latest stuff. People come to Medium to get the smartest thinking on things they care about. If you care about, say, entrepreneurship or relationships, the best thing you could read today was very unlikely to have been published in the last 48 hours. But most of the internet treats anything that isn’t new like bad fruit. This is a huge detriment to readers and writers alike. It encourages people to spend their time on the novel in lieu of the worthwhile, and it discourages creators from investing in things of lasting value.
We solve this by suggesting stories based on their current relevance, not their publish date. Some topics require more freshness than others, but if you see older stories coming up in your feed, it’s because it’s stood the test of time.
A huge benefit of this is it allows Medium and our writers to make bigger investments in stories, because we amortize that investment over months instead of days. And it means we have a continually growing library of stories that subscribers gain access to (making their subscription a better deal every day). This is a big reason our subscriber growth is accelerating — and we’re just scratching the surface.
That’s how Medium works today. And, again, it’s working well. One thing I didn’t mention is that all aspects of Medium are growing — not just subscriptions. (We don’t use it as a core metric internally, but we often get asked about unique visitors for comparison sake. That’s at 80M for the last 30 days.) With these basic mechanics established, we can continue to grow and invest, which will allow us to do a better and better job serving both readers and writers.
That said, we have a lot of work to do. Here’s what’s on our short-term list:
Improving quality and relevance
Our most important job is to deliver great stories to readers. And we have great stories. We also have not-great stories. And we don’t always manage to help the best get seen. We’re obsessed with helping the best quality stuff get in front of people — as well as that each person really cares about. And we know we have a ways to go here.
One of the big learnings we’ve had from the last year is that you can measure and algorithmically optimize for engagement — as all ad-driven platforms do. But that’s not the same thing as user value, which is very hard to measure and algorithmically optimize for.
Another way to say this is we can use machines to figure out what stories will get the most reads, but we still need humans to know if they’re actually good (true, useful, well-written, not just disguised marketing…). We want to promote the good stuff. Therefore, we’re doubling down on human curation. We’re revamping the algorithmic part of our recommendation systems, as well, to give people more of what they want and less of what they don’t.
A streamlined and more beautiful user experience
It’s been a while since we took a serious look at Medium’s design, from how the site looks and the UI to the app and to the underlying code. We’re going to be doing some major remodeling the next few months. This includes upgrading parts of our technical infrastructure to make the site speedier (and, for the nerds: faster to develop on).
This shouldn’t concern you unless you don’t like things that are faster and work better. Or unless you’re a badass engineer or designer who’d like to help us with it.
Writing bigger checks
As our subscription base grows, so does our budget for content. We will continue to invest in the ways we do now: through the Partner Program, by commissioning stories, and via publisher partnerships. But in each case, we are going to be looking to do bigger, better, and more ambitious stuff.
What’s a little further out…
As long as I’m painting the picture, I’ll mention two other goals on the horizon. These aren’t nailed down, but we’re excited to get to them:
📝 Collaboration tools: From the early days of Medium, we’ve talked about the idea that people can create better things together than they can alone. And we’ve enabled that to some extent, but we want to do much more. Especially as the stories being published are the work of more than one person. The end-to-end editing process could be vastly improved.
🎧 Audio: We see audio as a highly complementary format for sharing the types of stories Medium is great at. We started adding audio narrations to some of our best stories last year. This has remained a minor feature, but it is increasing in popularity, and there’s a lot of product and content work we’d like to do to make it better and grow what we have to offer.
It’s been a heck of a 12 months for Medium, full of growth and learning. I’m lucky I get to work with a team committed to doing things right and doing the right things. We’re very excited about the future.
For members of our community, I’m sure this post has brought up some questions. Feel free to respond below, and we’ll try to answer anything that comes up.
A preview of a month-long anthology from Roxane Gay and Medium on what it means to live in a human body today
On April 3, Medium launched an anthology edited by the bestselling author Roxane Gay. The collection is at times intimate and brave, with 24 of Gay’s favorite writers responding to the same prompt: “What does it mean to live in an unruly body?”
The Medium collection, says Gay, builds off her 2017 memoir Hunger, a blazingly honest account of her life so far, told through the history of her body. In Hunger, she writes about her roots as a Haitian American (she is technically both but sometimes feels like neither identity fits exactly); about the abuse she experienced in childhood; and the reality of being large in a world that makes space only for the small, taut, and beautiful. Her memoir is brave and painful in its candor.
“In Hunger, I focus explicitly on what it means to be fat without a weight loss narrative attached to it,” Gay explains. “Generally body-based memoirs are about some sort of journey of completion and some sort of triumph. Hunger is really just about what it means to live in this body right now.”
Gay’s frankness is contagious. With Unruly Bodies, two dozen writers and Gay herself tackle the question of what our physical bodies mean in a time when gender, race, sex, consent and more are hot-button topics, central to the national discourse around identity and politics.
“I want our culture to be more open to and more accepting of different kinds of bodies,” says Gay. “Unruly Bodies is an extension of Hunger in that I wanted to open up a conversation about bodies with more people.”https://medium.com/media/3b41b08f92e9649e34d691302f0a4b40/href
“I could make the argument that all bodies are unruly,” says Kiese Laymon, author of the book How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, whose Medium essay explores race, history, violence and gun culture. “I think that we do a lot to police the kinds of bodies that stick out of the norm. We don’t like to talk about the violence we do to those bodies that, on the surface, are not supposedly normal, which in this culture means cis, hetero, white, and thin. There’s obviously violence inherent in a culture which makes particular kinds of bodies seem unruly.”
Laymon’s essay is a searing personal response to that culture. It’s also about why he doesn’t own a gun. “There are certain kinds of bodies in our culture that people assume are harmful,” Laymon says. “Big black bodies are perceived as being the epitome of violence. I’ve never done anything that a cop has accused me of doing. I’ve had police drag me out of cars and pull guns on me for reasons that they should not have. I feel like a gun because I’m treated as a gun — I’m treated as a threat.”
For many of the Unruly Body writers, the idea of having control over one’s own body is central. For Carmen Maria Machado, whose essay will be published in the second week of Unruly Bodies on April 10, it’s about accepting that our efforts to control our bodies are usually futile.
“You know when people try to take in wild animals and they get bitten or attacked? What did you expect?” says Machado. “I think that’s a useful way to think about the body: People who really try to beat their bodies into submission, they’re the same as those people who try to keep a tiger as a pet: You’re gonna get bitten real bad, you’re gonna get fucked up real soon.”
Control for Randa Jarrar, the author of Him, Me, Muhammad Ali, is something altogether different. For Medium, Jarrar writes about her experience becoming pregnant while in an abusive relationship as a teenager—a relationship she kept secret from her Palestinian parents.
“It really took until now, now that I feel completely in possession of my body, for me to be able to write this,” Jarrar says. “It’s been really painful to look at and to write about. Who wants to spend their time remembering so many awful things? But I think that’s what writers do; writers take stock. We try to figure out what happened through language. We try to make sense of violence through the structure of an essay or a story or a book — we use history or we use historical details and these facts to try to make sense of human behavior, which is really difficult to figure out.”
She continues: “I’m a lot kinder to myself now, and I know my own strength. But I also know what bad things people are capable of. My experience has made me very hard, and unyielding, and overly protective of myself. I’ve had to learn how to negotiate ways to be vulnerable that are healthy for me rather than constantly being at high alert.”
When I first read the collection, I didn’t expect to be chewing on the essays days after the fact. I didn’t expect to go back over and over again to re-read that line I liked or to connect dots between two essays that just sit so well next to each other. But that’s the beauty of this project: The individual stories stand out on their own, but in aggregate, their power is amplified.
“Unruly bodies — and the art made by people who inhabit unruly bodies—can make the world better,” says Laymon. “They can make the world more vulnerable, make the world more able to accept its own unruliness.”
And when that happens, none of these bodies feel quite so unruly after all.
Perspectives on a changing industry ahead of this year’s Oscars
Movies are part of our cultural fabric — both the act of going to see the films and the impact they have on those of us watching. Whether it’s strangers bumping elbows as they dig into their popcorn or sitting by yourself huddled under a blanket in your living room, the magic of the movies is often in the experience itself. But the cultural phenom that is the movie industry is more than just box office numbers and red carpet faux pas. What has made this industry such a cultural powerhouse is the emotion a piece can inspire, how we’re brought into the story with each and every laugh, punch, tear, and heartbreak.
Over the past few years, the movie industry has seen a pretty substantial transformation. From changes in distribution models, to technologies that beam movies to pocket-sized screens, to new funding models that open up the creative decision process and prompt conversations about who gets to tell their story — and these changes show no sign of letting up. So with Hollywood’s annual golden moment coming this Sunday, it felt like the right time to take a look at the future of film — how those streaming shows instantly arrive in your living room, what it means to see your childhood story come to life in a polarizing year like 2018, and, of course, what does this all mean for VR! Below are six very unique perspectives on the industry that we hope will make you hit a mental pause. Grab your popcorn.
In the age of rising film stars like Netflix and Amazon, it’s hard not to see the writing on the wall for what Hollywood once built its world around: visits to the movie theater. M.G. Siegler shares his perspective on where Hollywood is going (and no it’s not just down) with the powerhouse Disney still smashing hits out of the park and newer business models like MoviePass shaking the industry up (for better and worse). So what does this mean for old Hollywood? Well, that remains to be seen — and depends on how these frenemies’ business moves play out. One thing is certain, that the tides are shifting, and fast.
Going into Netflix binge mode involves planting yourself firmly into the couch with snacks in reaching distance. Flash forward and you’re deep into the world of maniacal politicians, pre-teens battling monsters from the upside down, or an LA cop and his orc partner finding themselves embroiled in an out-of-this-world turf war. But how much do you really know about what happens in the seconds from when you fire up your Netflix to when the chills hit your spine as the credits roll? Tech writer Mayukh Nair breaks down the highly technical steps Netflix has orchestrated to bring hours of enjoyment without moving a muscle, literally. Nair’s piece makes it hard to not respect the system they’ve put in place, and may even make you think twice before yelling at the spinning red circle on your screen.
Documentary films often feel like an add-on at the big awards shows — sneaking in with a quick award before rushing to commercial break. But that pattern has shifted in the past few years as new distribution models have entered the marketplace and a culture of wanting to know and do more (rather than simply escaping) has grown. Chief Creative Officer for Weber Shandwick and LA-based artist Josh S. Rose highlights some of the biggest drivers of this change and what we can expect in the future for the documentary film genre.
A Wrinkle in Time is a childhood classic — a story that instantly wraps us up in the world we escaped to as young readers. Weeks before Ava DuVernay’s blockbuster film adaptation opens, researcher and author M. B. Moorer shares a personal essay about how the novel has shaped her life and helped her find a sense of identity. Through vignettes of pitching Madeleine L’Engle on a movie at age seven, to her own struggles with isolation and change during her parents’ divorce, to realizations about her insecurities as she neared adulthood, Moorer demonstrates the continued impact one story can have on a person. And how, as a passionate fan, seeing your world come to life can fulfill your wildest dreams in ways you couldn’t have imagined.
When we think of the future of film, it’s hard not to consider how VR will play a role. The technology has the power to take stories that already capture every ounce of your attention and make you feel like an active participant in them. But what does that mean when it comes to making the film itself? Science and technology journalist Signe Brewster gives us a peek at some of the challenges VR moviemakers face and the inventive solutions they’re creating, like thoughtful positioning of cameras (it’s more than just watching out for the dreaded boom mic!) and out of the box lighting design. While advances are made in how this technology is used, we’re only just starting to understand the very real responses they can inspire.
Imagine a world where you’ve never been hurt or afraid, a world where your past is free of pain. In this expansive long read, writer and performer Max S. Gordon examines his conflicted relationship to the idea of Wakanda, a fictional African nation in Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther. As Gordon describes it, “Wakanda is presented to us as a sunlit dream; real American racism and the colonization of Africa are the stuff of nightmares.” But what is gained — and lost — by “coasting along on the myth” of an Afro-futurist paradise? Black Panther has broken innumerable barriers, but no vision of utopia is universal. Through engaging critically with the film, Gordon confronts systems of representation and colonization that continue to impact the way we think and the stories we tell.