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At Long Last, Medium Cuts It Short

medium-logo-150x150[1]Ever since Medium launched three years ago it has had a reputation for exclusivity and long thought pieces, but that ends today.

The minimalist blogging platform slash publisher revealed a number of changes to its site today which are designed to make the site more appealing to readers and writers who prefer articles that are less epic manifesto and more of the moment.

To start, Medium launched a new writing prompt which takes a page from Twitter. It lives at the top of a user’s homepage and offers writers the chance to jot down a few sentences and hit publish – no titles or fancy formatting required, though you can still use them if you like.

Note the prompt at the upper left, and the new tags on the right:

medium home page

And to better show off  the short works, Medium has also launched a new look for the content streams on your homepage, profile, and the new tag pages. Short posts are going to be shown in the stream, and if you like what you see you can share a post directly from the stream.

medium stream

And finally accepting that readers follow writers more than they follow publications, Medium has also updated profile pages. Visitors can now see a stream of an author’s work with a featured or most recommended post at the top.

And last but not least, Medium is doing away with the old Channels organizational scheme and replacing it with a schema you’ll recognize immediately: tags. A writer will now have the option of choosing up to three tags for their post, and readers will be able to browse by tag and see a stream of posts.

Everyone will also have the option of tagging existing posts with new tags.

Medium has been synonymous with droning articles since it launched in August 2012, and that raises the questions of just why the abrupt change in course.

As founder Ev Williams writes:

We know that length is not a measure of thoughtfulness. The quality of an idea is not determined by the polish of the writing. And production value does not determine worthiness of time investment on the web any more than it does at the movie theater.

We also know that sometimes you need to get a thought out in an incomplete form in order for it to grow?—?by bumping into other brains and breathing in fresh air.

I think they realized that in this day and age of 140 character tweets and short FB status updates, a platform can’t afford to cut itself off users who can finish a thought in less than a thousand words.

After all, there are a hundred and one other blogging platforms which serve short works better than Medium, and longer works just as well as medium. (And as much as it may pain me to admit it, that includes Facebook.)

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