Since December 2011 I’m exploring Cowbird, a (not so) small socialnetwork of storytelling, that is … tellers of stories. Since some time I’m also witnessing the birth of Medium, whose early-adopters are a closed group defined by the founders, with the commitment to open it up soon to the whole world. A soon which is lasting for several months, anyway.
At first glance they are felt a little different. Yet Cowbird, without advertising and supported only by those who consider fair to do it, is positioning itself as a “gathering place” of the stories from the Occupy Wall St. movement, with a stated goal that is to build a public library of human experience, so the knowledge and wisdom we accumulate as individuals may live on as part of the commons, available for this and future generations to look to for guidance; Medium instead started saying it is based on the belief that the sharing of ideas and experiences is what moves humanity forward. The Internet is the greatest idea-sharing tool ever imagined, but we’ve only scratched the surface of what it’s capable of.
I would say its’ enough to state that they are cousins, and there’s enough space for both to grow up.
Bu no illusion: there will be only one. Better, both of them (together with who else knows…) will prosper and grow, but it will be just one to get the crown of ” storytelling social network”, While storytelling itself , from an activity as ancient as man, is becoming a new trend (even a little too posh and handled by jocks, alas). On Medium side we see his father’s name, that’s Mr. Blogger (the first public and free blogging platform, now owned by Google), as well as former CEO of Twitter, Ev Williams. We’ll see if it will be enough to win the race of storytelling in social media.
In any case, Williams in his Welcome page on Medium says something quite interesting:
It’s not too late to rethink how online publishing works and build a system optimized for quality, rather than popularity. Where anyone can have a voice but where one has to earn the right to your attention. A system where people work together to make a difference, rather than merely compete for validation and recognition. A world where thought and craftsmanship is rewarded more than knee-jerk reactions.
Let’s introduce the merit, the value in social relationships on the internet. And I would add, in storytelling.
So you can go on chatting with your friends, spreading around hoaxes and doing clicktivism by sharing photos of valuable causes (but my one is more valuable than yours, aha). However, to make it clear: contribute with some valuable content in the worldwide buzz, make it freely available, and let it make an impact and a difference, it’s a challenge that I would embrace right now.
How will they do it, at Medium? For now there are a bunch of users who write short texts in predefined categories. They announced that soon it will be possible for all to write, and even define categories. And then? I am quite curious. And I am not alone, of course. Indeed there is interest by much much more distinguished commenters than me, if my personal Italian internet guru today tweeted:
I think that in the next few weeks I will need to give a look at this (https://t.co/w2L5YRn3)
— Massimo mantellini (@mante) February 10, 2013
We’ll see,then. But if we look together, maybe we’ll see better.