Twitter co-founders launch Medium, back Branch
Posted by Levi Sumagaysay on August 15th, 2012 at 6:16 am | Categorized as Uncategorized | Tagged as Biz Stone, blogging, Branch, Evan Williams, media, Medium, Obvious, publishing, social, social media, Twitter
Obvious, the San Francisco company founded by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone, has launched Medium, a publishing tool that’s like Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, Reddit and, of course, Blogger rolled into one. Oh, throw Flickr in there, too.
“We’re re-imagining publishing in an attempt to make an evolutionary leap, based on everything we’ve learned in the last 13 years and the needs of today’s world,” Williams said in a post — on Medium — Tuesday. It has been 13 years since he created Blogger, the blogging platform he sold to Google in 2003.
For now, Medium is a look-but-don’t-touch platform that organizes posts into categories called collections. The collections are laid out in a Pinterest-like way, and can be made up of text and photos. Perhaps video, eventually; Williams hints of “much more” in his post. Posts can be rated, and the highly rated ones float to the top. Twitter users can browse collections and approve (or like, if you’re Facebook-inclined) by clicking on a target-shaped icon on each post. When the service expands, collections can be open to other posts or closed to outside contributions.
Williams touts the platform’s appeal to non-bloggers, saying it’s “designed to allow people to choose the level of contribution they prefer.” Think newspaper or magazine, with freelancers.
Medium collections so far include Look What I Made, where an “Our own bacon” post has floated to the top; Been There. Loved That., a collection of travel photos; and the Obvious Collection, which contains posts about what Obvious is working on.
Speaking of what’s going on at Obvious, it also extended Branch to the public Monday. Branch goes beyond Twitter because it gives users a forum to talk about certain topics using more than 140 characters — 750 characters, to be exact. Its roots? One of the co-founders’ experiences in the political world, according to the New York Times. Josh Miller, who previously worked with Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., told the NYT he wanted to re-create dinner-party conversations or “healthy debates” online. Branch allows topic contributors to digress, or branch out, into other topics.
In a Medium post a couple of weeks ago — Branch has been in private beta for months; it’s now in public beta, meaning you’ll need an invitation to use it — Stone said, “in the case of Branch, we serve as mentors of a kind—we’ll help with the technology, the product design, the branding, the marketing, introductions.” He called Branch an enabler of “high-quality public discourse.”
Will Branch — whose value beyond simply being an online forum is being questioned by some — live up to that billing? One Branch topic we’ve come across is “What is a professional photographer?” That’s the key to controlling the quality of the conversation: Participants are invited by the topic’s instigator, and you can see their credentials by checking out their Twitter profiles. (In this case, they were all photographers, so readers get a peek into their profession.)