Last week Dave Winer wrote a post lamenting the dangers of posting your content to somewhere like Medium, and how we should make an effort to save the open web.
I agree with most of what Dave has to say. After all, this is something we’re trying to solve at Ghost. But the way he frames it is a bit like a music industry pundit saying “Don’t use Spotify! It’s not good for the industry!”
It overlooks one remarkably simple fact: The consumer doesn’t care. And telling them they should care is unlikely to make it so.
Mainstream, casual consumers will always be attracted to what is easiest, pretty and cost-efficient. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Sure, you can make predictions and point out how you don’t control your content and Medium can put advertising on it at any time. But until they actually do anything like that, predictions are just hearsay. Nothing has happened yet to break user trust. So why immediately default to distrust?
Closed networks like Medium are prevalent for casual bloggers because open alternatives suck for this use-case. If you just want to write something that looks good and can easily be shared with no professional agenda, you shouldn't have to go through the hassle of deploying an application and an entire server.
Simply hitting “Log in with Twitter” to begin writing is obviously preferable.
For the mainstream casual blogger: Jekyll sucks, WordPress sucks, Ghost sucks and RSS as a mechanism for keeping up with any of them completely sucks.
Medium is almost singlehandedly responsible for getting "regular people" excited about writing long-form content on the web again. We’ve seen more of a boom in that department in the last few years than ever before, and it’s categorically no thanks to open platforms.
There is more than enough room in the publishing industry for open and closed platforms to exist in harmony, catering to different types of writers with their individual advantages.
When a casual user wants a quick place to write, they have Medium. When a serious user wants to build out a full publication and control their whole site and subscriber-base, they have Ghost.
If anything, Medium is growing the size of the entire market as new bloggers start out there and eventually graduate to a full-site if and when they get serious about publishing. Conversely, when a Ghost user decides they no longer need the power and flexibility that we offer but still want to keep their content online for free, they can move over to Medium.
Some people think that promoting “The Open Web” means that all content must live on its own self-contained server which is owned and operated by the end-user. To me, it has always meant having the freedom and the opportunity to choose where you would like your content to live, rather than being forced into either one.
There isn’t just one right answer. The world is not binary.
The great news is: We’ve never had more available choices than we do in 2016.
So please, publish your content anywhere you like. Including Medium.
(Oh, also, if anyone at Medium is reading this, drop me an email. There’s no reason we couldn’t do more together for all our collective users.)