By furnishing your User Content to Medium, you give Medium a broad license to use and exploit your User Content as it operates and evolves its business.
Gave me the creeps. What follows, I realised, is even worse.
"Business evolution," there goes a clear-cut concept.
The author comes up with what I think of as a very 21st century problem, building a brand as a writer. When we read about Louis CK doing his own comedy show and making plenty of money by offering it up DRM free for $5. There is push back that "well everyone already knows who he is." So clearly the exposure can be a good thing.
I suspect that writers, like coders or painters or sculpters may find that much of their early work is given away or benefits a patron rather than the artist more as part of the 'dues' of becoming 'known.'
I don't agree though with this : "Gathering an audience when you don’t have an audience is wicked hard work." though. I think of it as just being "work" and perhaps most importantly it takes "time". Time for people to get around to reading your stuff, time for people to tell others its worth reading, time for folks to both find your stuff when they need it and to retain it. It sucks that if you're the next Hemingway or JK Rowling starting today, you probably won't be recognized as such for 10 or 15 years from now. That isn't because of some painful gymnastic maneuver you have to do, it is that information diffuses slowly for the general case.
For nearly everyone who you know now who is "famous" you can go back and see that they have been practicing their art for many years, often several decades. It is a painful reality that finding an audience is a fickle thing, and finding your style.
Full disclosure: I watched "Tapeheads" just yesterday.
What I find most interesting about today's writing scene is that it's simultaneously easier and harder than ever before. In theory, it's much easier. You don't have to have the capital to own printing presses and distribution pipelines, nor do you have to pitch to someone who does. But that's still the best way to go if you want to get big. For the time being, at least, the "well, everyone already knows who he is" critique is largely valid. The biggest acts in self-publishing -- be it music, film, television, or books -- first made it big the old fashioned way.
No matter how media evolve, I suspect that two effects will always be necessary: 1) reach, and 2) tastemaking. Traditional papers, publishing houses, and magazines have long held a monopoly on both. Their ownership of the former is slipping away (more slowly than we imagine, but it is). Their ownership of the latter is still holding firm, though the precedent for disruption in that space is growing.
What currently makes publishing "harder" than ever is that we're in a muddy middle ground. The old titans are dying, but they're not yet dead. The new titans are rising, but they haven't yet risen. So we're seeing a strange mix of success stories coming out of both camps, and the progression doesn't appear to be linear or neat or orderly.
"For nearly everyone who you know now who is "famous" you can go back and see that they have been practicing their art for many years, often several decades. It is a painful reality that finding an audience is a fickle thing, and finding your style."
True. Very true. This even true for the self-publishing wunderkinds we keep hearing about. There are no overnight success stories. Behind every "overnight" breakout are many years of preparation for it.
Having self-published video online for one and a half decades now, I've acquired quite a bit of knowledge of the publicity/marketing side of things (enough that I use it to fund my filmmaking, in fact). That knowledge how I gain an audience for my films - it takes time, sure, but it also takes knowledge, skill, and often, money.
I see a lot of filmmakers, comic artists and novelists attempting to self-publish without even realising they need that skill, let alone attempting to develop it or spending time practising it. That generally doesn't go too well.
Charles Stross has an excellent article on why he takes exactly the opposite route, being conventionally published, precisely because he doesn't want to have to be or manage publicists, designers, editors and so on: http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2013/03/why-i-do...
Exactly, and these roles are a lot more crucial than most would-be self publishing authors take into consideration before getting started. Amanda Hocking, one of the more famous of the self-publishers in recent years, decided to switch to a major publisher. Her rationale was that marketing, publicity, design, etc., had become 99% of her job, relegating writing to 1%. She wanted the reverse. She loves to write; she is less interested in running a publishing startup (which is, essentially, what a self-published author needs to be doing to be successful). I think it's a very interesting insight.
Try reading this article replacing Medium with posterous/tumblr/subvtle/Google +/Wordpress... The content publishing is a commodity, nothing revolutionary or wrong with it.
 (from Wikipedia) "In the context of the World Wide Web, a content farm (or content mill) is a company that employs large numbers of often freelance writers to generate large amounts of textual content which is specifically designed to satisfy algorithms for maximal retrieval by automated search engines. Their main goal is to generate advertising revenue through attracting reader page views as first exposed in the context of social spam."
"You retain ownership of all intellectual property rights in your User Content. Medium (and/or other third parties) retains ownership of intellectual property rights in all Content other than User Content."
I've never played with Posterous, but Tumblr, Svbtle, and WordPress all allow you to use your own domain, which at least allows you to take your URLs with you if you leave.
Yes, and? The point remains the same and remains valid, it just applies to more than just medium: if you don't host it yourself, it might disappear tomorrow, no natural catastrophe necessary, simply because it's the choice of people other than you.
The content publishing is a commodity, nothing revolutionary or wrong with it.
For me there is nothing right with it. We're not talking about the expensive and heavy printing presses of old; everybody should have at least one of them new-fangled ones, of not a dozen, just because hey why not.
I feel like that's the point being missed in arguments like these. Medium shouldn't be your sole content hub, and I don't think it's trying to be—it should be a tool in your toolbox to stretch the reach of your main content hub.
There's a happy middle ground that a savvy digital writer can find which will provide them with the advantages of a centralized platform like Medium without subjecting them to the risks of only using Medium.
If they provided an API that let you syndicate your content from your personal publishing site (Wordpress, etc) into Medium, then they would increase the incentive to publish there even more.
You could make the same claim about email. What happens if/when gmail starts charging? All the folks who are using google apps can move, but the people with gmail accounts have fewer (no?) options.
How is medium any different from posterous?
I'm working on something like Medium meets Flattr. Invite only . I want quality writers. Users that register can attach a "wallet" of sorts that they could put money into. The money they have put into their wallet will be divided by the number of posts they read and shipped off to authors.
Example: I have $20 in my wallet/month because I love reading and I believe in supporting indie writers. I read 90 articles that month. 20/90 = 0.22 per writer. I feel like if the service gets enough users, people can make a real living off it.
Unless you can line up very sought-after writers with name-recognition to bring in users at first, I think you may have a difficult time convincing enough people to buy into your model.
That said, I love the idea.. It's basically a magazine.
People with a little money to burn ;)
To make "free" sustainable and offer writers the chance to make money on their creations, I can only come up with the one solution: allow the site to make money however it can (using writers' content) and then divvy up the authors' cut based on popularity/views. This has many pitfalls, not the least of which is that authors will claim they're being fleeced (much like recording artists complain about record companies.)
Regardless, a blanket copyright assignment without compensation is unconscionable. I really hope those writers expecting to be professionals know to read the terms where they submit content.
You go to the website, type in the domain name you want, go through the checkout and add the sitebuilder options and there you are 5 minutes later writing your own website on your own domain (but hosted on their server). Total cost is about £80 pa.
Similarly going the other direction from website/webpage creator, usually using a freemium model, you can purchase a domain as you create your site (eg Wix). Similar pricing to the domain registrar route.
Without this tier, there is too much confusion between the definition of a platform and a content farm.
I'd argue that we should use a stricter definition: content farms are those where the company contracts out for cheap content, writes it internally, or creates it algorithmically though markov chains and copying other sources on the internet. It's something where all the information within is directive, and no interaction is required by users except to simply consume and perhaps click on ads.
About.com and its ilk? Content farms.
Those sites that copy StackOverflow.com posts? Content farms.
Those SEO sites you keep pulling up when you search for your domain name? Content farms.
Are you really thinking that article is some kind of valuable intellectual property she gave up? That this is her best work? Then there would be irony.
"By furnishing your User Content to Medium, you give Medium a broad license to use and exploit your User Content as it operates and evolves its business...it is a perpetual, non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, sublicensable, transferable license to exploit all copyright rights now in existence.."
Ideally the revenue model of advertisements... 70 / 30 payout in favor of writer. If the went down this road and made it successful, then that would be something.
But even if they did that. Why not just host your own blog if your writing is doing so well and making money?
It seems like they would be fulfilling the role of a traditional publisher in the print world:
* publishing on their site means you don't have to worry about drawing traffic
* the aggregation of a bunch of writers means that you have broader topic coverage
* aggregation also means you have more content, more likelihood of pulling in visitors
Just because your writing is good doesn't necessarily mean that your blog-marketing will be good and you'll be able to attract visitors.
And then there's the blog hosting and ad-revenue management that you've got to figure out. Sure, it's not that hard, and/or you can outsource it, but that's what the publisher does to earn their 30%.
(I'm not saying that self-hosting is inherently a bad decision, just that it's not the best thing for everyone.)
- optional domain names
- custom branding for companies wanting a blog engine
- sponsored articles linked from home page
- as others have mentioned they could create e-books based on popular topics