The Internet Sausage Machine

The Internet Sausage Machine
Photo by Rachel Clark / Unsplash

I cancelled my subscription to the Medium partner programme a few days ago. I suppose it says something about the power of suggestion, and my own suggestability that I re-joined in the first place. I’ve always loved writing, and after sharing some technical notes in recent months, thought “why not make some money from them on Medium?”.

I forgot about the true nature of Medium.

If you’ve not seen it, Medium is/was the third great act from Ev Williams - one of the founders of Blogger, and Twitter. A re-imagination of online publishing, Medium introduced a paywall where paying members could put their writing behind the wall, and paying members could both avoid advertising and respond to published words in the form of applause - which in turn shared their membership fee with article authors. A good idea, right?

There’s only one problem with the Medium partner programme - the vast majority of the paying members are fellow authors - so they’re not really there as consumers at all. Every interaction they make is an investment - a pre-payment towards attention, clicks, pageviews, and therefore monetary gain for themselves.

The nature of Medium causes a hugely incestuous race to the bottom of the internet - a sausage machine that eats it’s own output.

There’s probably a phrase that adequately describes learning a lesson the second time. Not so much “second time’s a charm” as “can’t believe I did that again”.

Anyway.

In other news, I woke up on Sunday with the thought flying around my head that I should try and get back in touch with people I’ve not said hello to for ages. After carving out an hour to myself on Sunday afternoon I sent a few emails out across the internet. It’s been interesting - reading the responses.

It feels so awkward, saying hello to somebody you used to know well, but have somehow not spoken to for a long time. And yet sometimes it’s easy. With some people, it’s like only a few moments have passed.

While talking to an old friend from the earliest days of the web recently, she suddenly paused in the middle of our conversation and remarked “how many years has it been?”.

Twenty three years.

We’ve never met in-person. We almost did once, in San Francisco. We found out afterwards that we crossed paths one day apart.

Whenever I talk to her, it’s like we’re carrying on the conversation we started six months or a year before. Like we just stepped away to make a coffee, or to grab a snack. It’s odd, and wonderful at the same time.

p.s. my youngest daughter’s first “friend who’s a boy” had dinner with us last night. I received strict instructions before she arrived home - “don’t act weird, and don’t ask questions”.

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