I’ve secretly been wishing for someone to create a complete compendium of Medium’s trials and tribulations because the task, had I taken it on myself, would have simply driven me into a deep, dark, depressing place from which I may not have emerged. Thankfully Laura Hazard Owen, writing for the Nieman Journalism Lab, was more than up to the task:
Why spend so much time worrying about what Medium is? Maybe because we wanted to know whether it was a friend or an enemy. The answer is that it’s neither. It’s a reflection of what the media industry has worried about, and hoped for, and not received. But Medium was never something that we would get to define. Instead, it’s turned out to be an endless thought experiment into what publishing on the internet could look like. That’s not much fun for people who got burned along the way, but Medium was never exactly ours to begin with.
Ms. Owen’s resulting timeline is filled with bite-sized notable events from Medium’s history, starting with the August 2012 launch, in which Founder and CEO Ev Williams heralded the site as, “a beautiful space for reading and writing — and little else.”
The following ~90 events, covering seven years, contain some fun trivia you might have forgotten. Like how the White House quietly published the entirety of President Obama’s State of the Union remarks to Medium before the speech began. Or just how many notable publications jumped head-first into the platform, only to die later. Regardless, reading through the entire timeline will remind you that Medium’s current identity crisis isn’t so much a recent ailment as it is a chronic one.