Medium.com, as perhaps we all know, self-describes as an “online publishing platform”. It has the endearing characteristic that it pays for popular content – not much, but there are a few dollars waiting for me, if I can only get around to filling in the US tax form – and of more practical value, it has curators.
These are people – I think people, not algorithms – who pick articles (and short stories, etc.) for circulation to Medium.com’s subscribers and users – yes, both; you can pay for unlimited access or you can read a limited amount per month for free.
I’ve had Medium (dot com) in the back of my mind for a while now. I read an interview with its founder, Evan Williams (co-founder of Twitter), and then I read something else, and happened across something else, and finally took the hint and signed up for an account.
An email started arriving, offering me curated content. After a while, I went in and changed my preferences.
Medium’s okay. I read a lot of what I’m sent. Slightly too much on how to live, how to get by in the big city, how to talk to girls, how to get through your twenties without making a fool of yourself, and I’m pretty sure I also imagined the piece on How to be a writer without having to write anything that I’m remembering now, but there are some good people up there.
Umair Haque, for example. Today’s offering is Notes on a Pandemic: what “We’re in it together” really means. And here’s a piece by Lisa Damour revealing that ‘Anxious’ is the new ‘shy’.
In fiction – oh, here we are. Fiction Writing’s Place on Medium by Tom Farr, and 3 Ways to Make Your Fiction Writing Better – Right Now by Shaunta Grimes. Not to mention The Secret to Becoming a Massively Popular Writer by Ayodeji Awosika.
All interesting, in their different ways. There is also actual fiction (try Bridget Webber).
The unit of approval on Medium.com is the ‘clap’ – which is like a ‘like’ except that you can keep on clapping for as long as you, er, like. There’s probably a piece somewhere on how many claps to give, to signal degrees of approval, and no doubt there’s a block on clapping your own pieces.
This isn’t where I get to boast that I’ve received lots of claps, because, you see, I’ve, um, so to speak, not to put too fine a point on it, er – but what I have noticed is, the claps I have received have (almost) all been for the apocalyptic stories.
If the world ends during the story, or civilisation collapses, or rising sea levels drown everybody – you get the picture. For a truly awful disaster – I get applause.
I do have friends who clap my more sensitively creative-writing-type stories, once I’ve explained the clapping system to them, and I’m sure there are hundreds of articles on How to get more claps for your fiction, but that’s not why I’m writing this.
I like that it’s alive; that there are people reading, curating, clapping. I like the natural-selection aspect – the people who get lots of claps tend to be the people who write well about something interesting.
Mainly, I like having somewhere to put short stories that doesn’t also contain socks.
Nothing gets made; no services are provided.
Italy has pre-emptively ground to a halt already, and today’s (Wednesday morning’s) UK news is that a UK health minister has tested positive for the virus.
If I was writing this on Thursday morning, I’d mention President Trump’s ban on Europe/US flights, but as things stand, I’ll just claim credit as an incredibly accurate forecaster.
Either we can beat viruses, or we can’t. This isn’t the “zombie apocalypse”, or Stephen King’s “Captain Trips” (which kills almost everybody in The Stand), but the next virus might be.
This one is a convenient virus, because it works against the excesses of Western Civilisation (sic) and Globalisation (ha ha), not least by grounding so many globe-warming flights.
So yes, let’s all wash our hands – with soap and water; hand sanitiser is just the lazy alternative – and let’s see how much of the world we can save by staying self-isolated at home.