Internet and the WHOOSH! Effect
Algorithms will probably speak otherwise, but I love the idea of the author. The writer on any subject whom I devour, simply because I enjoy his or her voice. The Internet, in theory, should be great at delivering these authors whom I follow.
Medium is the platform that tries hardest. They do not try very hard. With roots in Twitter and a mission of trying to crack the nut of delivering longform content that matters, their wellspring and point of reference is still the feed.
The feed, as any 12 year old knows, breeds fake news (in the nonpolitical sense) and its corrolaries harassment, bullying, a deep gnawing pit of anxiety, mixed in with a few laughs. Signifiers of this are the non-vetted, much eyeballed meme, trope, blog, vlog, video, take down, shoutout and, yes––article that goes viral simply because it induces a click.
I’ve read many articles on Medium and elsewhere by people describing the roller coaster ride of having one of their articles go viral. Being read by an audience of 12 people and mom and suddenly WHOOSH! the spinning cherries align and a piece gets blasted into the stratosphere of 12 gazillion shares. And then its back to reality, 120 views that gradually dwindles down to 12. Stasis.*
Or, those who successfully surf virality. Think up topics and headers that consistently get 12 million views. And still we don’t know their names. And their content, with rare exceptions…..
For the Eyeballs of Those Who Sit on Cushions and at Desks
The non-mobile Internet user (we all use mobiles, I mean for reading longform writing) is missing a system that takes advantage of the superior size and efficiency of the laptop, desktop, pad, what have you, for organizing authors enjoyed––in a rational way that keeps an eye to the new, while staying current on writers whose words are consistently sought.
Not reading an article simply because the algorithm has identified that we enjoy that author or subject, but because we ourselves have placed Meghan Magnusson within a writer-centric and drillable at multiple levels anthology, list, system (call it what you will) that contains authors and subjects we enjoy and can go back to again and again.
Staying updated on new pieces by such authors, automatically, through the vast power of the Internet. Reading new articles that our touchstone authors have shared, liked, or commented on. Organizing these articles. Adding new authors to the list if they touch us enough. Removing them if they stop speaking to us.
This does not need to be detractive of the overall experience that Medium wants to provide, a machine-learning derived balance of familiarity and flux that emphasizes the platform, subject, and publication over the individual voice. For many casual and commute-bound readers the status quo is acceptable.* For those who expect insight, creative use of language, and meaningful use of time when venturing into the longform slipstream, it is not.
My suggestion: a simple Authors header and page, with customizability, up there with the usual subject headers and the home feed-driven page. Not rocket science, nor reinventing the wheel.
To get the ball rolling, Medium would of course populate a few authors algorithmically on every users’ Authors page. There will always be a feed-derived aspect of any useful application, we don’t have time or patience to figure things out by ourselves. But this should be contained within a contextual, author-centered universe that lets the Medium reader ultimately customize and decide.
Next — Rating System
Ghostwriter by day, Damon Arvid is a musician, composer, traveler, and cloud novel author by night. On the music front, he is currently arranging (and burying) the Fabric albums Summon These Days, Slowly Learning, Station to Station, Sunnyside, Namida, and Chasing Sun — WIP is Great Pacific Garbage Patch film soundtrack. All new tunes ledgered, graded, and verified as too legit to quit.
What follows is a key to the Damon Arvid ecosystem (Medium is designed to pull you out of one writer’s work and onto the next). Each hyperlink under Medium series takes you to a representative example from the series. The series-specific Contents drills down to navigate articles or episodes within a specific series. Think of what follows as a blog site key, organized within Medium through the hyperlinks below.
- Arisugawa Park (late-stage cloud novel)
- Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP — film synopsis)
- Fabric, the Platform
- Fabric, the Music Project
- EVEN (Environmental and Engineering Neutrality Pact — early-stage cloud novel)
- What I Learned on the Internet (WILOTI)
- Medium and the Missing…. (little rants against the machine)
The Weebly blog endurancewriter has been discontinued for the mome, but is still, still perusable. A new site with exclusive content is in the works.
Medium and the Missing…
(1) Author’s Header
(2) Rating System
(4) Driver’s Manual
*I was planning to reference and link some of these articles, but like ether they have dissipated into the far reaches of browser history.
**We are all this reader, at times.
Copyright © Damon Arvid 2018
Medium is simply a ledgered host for the material, my last month’s earnings were .02 cents — ultimately this material will be exported to a platform that values original content in a curated and rationally compensated way.