In reality, organizations still had some enormous advantages. Organizations are sustainable; they outlive the vagaries of human attention. Some individuals flourished in the newly democratic blogosphere. But over time, people got bored, got new jobs, found new interests, or otherwise reached the limits of what people-driven, individual-driven publishing could accomplish for them. The political blogosphere — the cacophony of individual voices on both left and right circa, say, 2004 — evolved toward institutions, toward Politico and TPM and The Blaze and HuffPo and the like.
Personal publishing is like voting. In theory, it’s the very definition of empowerment. In reality, it’s an excellent way for your personal shout to be cancelled out by someone else’s shout.
This is actually from a piece about Medium, a new blogging/social site/tool that’s interesting me, even if I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing with it should I get an invite to the beta. Here’s how Medium describes itself:
Medium is designed to allow people to choose the level of contribution they prefer. We know that most people, most of the time, will simply read and view content, which is fine. If they choose, they can click to indicate whether they think something is good, giving feedback to the creator and increasing the likelihood others will see it.
Posting on Medium (not yet open to everyone) is elegant and easy, and you can do so without the burden of becoming a blogger or worrying about developing an audience. All posts are organized into “collections,” which are defined by a theme and a template. (For example, this post is in the About Medium collection with a simple article template.)
As Joshua Benton, author of the quote at the top, says, there’s something weird/fascinating about this idea of curated posting:
What’s most radical about Medium is that it denies authorship.
Okay, maybe not denies authorship — people’s names are right next to their work, after all. But it degrades authorship, renders it secondary, knocks it off its pedestal… Degrading authorship is something the web already does spectacularly well. Work gets chopped and sliced and repurposed. That last animated GIF you saw — do you know who made it? Probably not. That infonugget you saw on Gawker or The Atlantic — did it start there? Probably not. Sites like Buzzfeed are built largely on reshuffling the Internet, rearranging work into streams and slideshows.
It’s been a while since auteur theory made sense as an explanation of the web. And you know what? We’re better for it. In a world of functionally infinite content, relying on authorship doesn’t scale. We need people to mash things up, to point things out, to sample, to remix.
I both agree and disagree with that last part, but that tension is, in large part, what makes Medium so interesting to me. Is this where the idea of group quality as differentiator comes into its own?