We shouldn't wait for Medium
Medium has to create a miracle in the economics of publishing. But the users of Medium just want an easy and elegant blogging system. It doesn't seem like a match, long-term.
by Dave Winer Monday, January 9, 2017

Frederic Filloux likes Medium. He says: 

For elegant text-based publishing, there is a need for a simple, easy-to-use, well-designed platform such as Medium. WordPress was supposed to deliver just that, but it took a geeky turn, saturating its ecosystem with scores of third-party plugins — more than 48,000 at last count — whose quality can charitably be called uneven. Most WordPress sites end up using dozens of plugins, each one bound to create its own set of problems: slow page-loads, crashes, random behaviors or update cycles that don’t match WP's platform agenda. Unless you have sizable tech resources at your disposal, WordPress is a nightmare. Switching to Medium gives you the impression of going from MS-DOS to iOS.

I think it is fair to say WordPress is to Medium as MS-DOS is to iOS, but for different reasons. To be fair you have to compare Medium to the hosted version of WordPress. There are no plugins there and none of the complications or management hassles he describes. 

However the user interface of WordPress is large and spread out, the commands you need are organized in a way that makes them hard to find. A lot of the problems I have with WP could be solved by reorganizing its command structure. 

The second reason Medium is preferred is the editor. It was a major advance in browser-based editing when it came out five years ago. If you were to graft the Medium editor onto WordPress and reorganize the commands, you'd really have something. They could address the question he raises by providing a standard "reference release" of WordPress that includes a set of commonly used plugins that are known to work well with each other. 

Filloux then reviews the business problems that Medium has, most of which come from having raised a large amount of venture capital and because of that having to find a revolutionary product that changes the economics of publishing. A tall order. And every time they pivot, the confidence in them finding such a model dwindles. This is something that's not just felt by investors but by Medium users and it depresses the general blogging activity. 

In the meantime, all the content that continues to pour into Medium is at risk due to the missing business model. And this is where I part with Filloux. I wonder why he only discusses Medium's interest and the interest of its shareholders. What about his interest and that of other people who use Medium as their publishing platform? Is this the best way? 

I argue that it's not. That what we need is a better designed WordPress, or an open source Medium. Or something new that is inspired by Medium's smooth UI, and WordPress's open source heritage. 

We need lots of choices, not two. 

One more thing to consider. While Medium has been searching for its business model, open source software has been making the editing ease-of-use accessible to any JavaScript developer. So it's getting more plausible every year that users can get what they like about Medium, without waiting for them to find the revolutionary business model.