What's Next in Publishing

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve been noticing a lot of buzz lately around how print magazines and their newspaper cousins are slipping further into irrelevancy. Of course none of this is news, but I’ve read some interesting anecdotes the past few days of people trying to think of ideas to fill the gap the print publications will invariable leave behind.

On introducing Medium, The Obvious Corporation’s new publishing platform, Evan Williams writes: > The Obvious Corporation decided to take on the project of building a new publishing platform from scratch, not just because it’s in our wheelhouse, but because we believe publishing—and media, more broadly—is important. It’s easy to forget this given how much pointless and destructive media is in the world. But there’s also more great stuff than ever before—and we haven’t even scratched the surface of what our smart devices and our networks that connect most of the planet might enable.

Medium is designed to allow people to choose the level of contribution they prefer. We know that most people, most of the time, will simply read and view content, which is fine. If they choose, they can click to indicate whether they think something is good, giving feedback to the creator and increasing the likelihood others will see it.

Posting on Medium (not yet open to everyone) is elegant and easy, and you can do so without the burden of becoming a blogger or worrying about developing an audience. All posts are organized into “collections,” which are defined by a theme and a template. (For example, this post is in the About Medium collection with a simple article template.)

And writing at Pando Daily, Hamish McKenzie describes what – at least for me – would be a perfect publishing delivery mechanism: > You have an app called something like Mag Reader. When you open Mag Reader, it shows you a list of the latest works from your favorite publications, as well as ones that align with your interests, or the stories currently most talked about on social media.

Each story is listed with a small picture, headline, by-line, date, relevancy rating (just like Netflix’s customized recommendations), introductory teaser, and publisher name. Before clicking through, you can expand each one to see more art work, the first few paragraphs, who has recommended the story, links to similar stories, and what else the publisher has put out recently. If you feel the urge, you can even buy the magazine issue into which the piece has been bundled for paper consumption.

You have a profile page, just like you do on Spotify or Facebook, on which your most recently read stories are listed alongside the stories you recommend most highly. On your page, you can also list your favourite magazines and writers, along with your interests.

Like anything, I’m sure there’s a ton of details and politics to work out before anything Hamish is describing to come to fruition, but as Evan writes in his post: We’ve only been publishing on the Internet for a little less than 20 years. It’s still a young medium. And whatever way publishing turns, I’m confident there will always be an output for quality journalism no matter the medium.

What do you think?