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medium downsizes – we have been living in ad world for a while now

Content Management Solutions or simply CMS, is a web based software that allows easy management of content. There are many types of CMS. Stuff that is companies big and small are a different kind of CMS. Stuff that is used by everyday folks like cooks and students and consultants (like myself) are a different kind of CMS. Here, I am writing about everyday folk CMS. 

A popular CMS that most of us (at least those who read tech stuff, even casually) is wordpress. Wordpress started off as a blogging software but it can be used for so many things. Wordpress provides for free blogs, and google provides for the same and other companies also do so. This blog is powered by a software called BlogEngine.net. The point is, there are so may CMS’s. Then, there are the ‘new and cool’ CMS stuff like medium.

I had heard about medium a while ago. If you look at any of their ‘mediums’, it looks completely out of the world. It looks super cool and it just looks grand. However, a few minutes after spending on any medium site, I realize that it is, at the end of the day, just another blogging platform. It has some neat layout and a highlighting feature (which to me, is distracting than anything else, just like it is in Kindle) and some other neat tricks. Still, below all that, it is just another blogging software, at least as far as I am concerned. I may have made a snap judgement here, but that is my opinion for now. 

Today, I mention medium because they are downsizing. According to the blog posted by the owner of medium, it is because of the ad ecosystem on which almost everything on the internet seems to run. Since that is how the system is built, there is a certain impact it has on the services provided. It impacts how content creators make money in the first place. 

I kind of agree with that blog post. 

Today, the internet (and the many services, and the mobile apps that work with it) have the ‘free’ system. Stuff that we use everyday like search (Bing – you might be using Google), email (Outlook – you might be using Gmail or Yahoo or Rediff), cloud (OneDrive), social networks (Facebook, Instagram), chat (Messenger, Watsapp) and operating systems (Android) and so many other things that I cannot recall now are simply ‘free’. 

Now, free is good. Like everybody else, I like free stuff too. Yet, this creates a problem when someone comes along gives something better and asks for money, we simply refuse to pay. That’s because, an entire generation (folks who reached their teens after 2005) has now raised with the impression that they don’t have to pay for anything that they use. 

The thing is, folks don’t realize that they are paying with their time, and their entire personal lives. Folks who do realize are just fine with their lives being profiled. Either way, the winner are the companies that own these platforms and the companies that can afford to pay for advertising space. This is why almost all apps are now pay to win, and have all sorts of ads. This is also the reason why almost every news site has so much ads that sometimes its difficult to figure out where the content starts and where the ad ends. 

This hits journalism and content creators more than anything else. Article content and headlines have no choice but to be ‘attractive’ even if it is not supposed to be like that. This is what is called click bait. If folks don’t click on the link (on Google and Facebook, the two main drivers of the internet) they don tread the content. They don’t read the content (which is mixed with ads) the site that owns the content wont make money. The cycle repeats itself. God help those sites that are behind a pay wall. It’s either stupidly easy to beat the paywall or folks simply find an alternative and Facebook/Google are only happy to point the user to alternatives. 

This is the issue that medium discusses in its blog post. Medium (I still maintain that it is simply a blog engine with a glorified and extremely cool user interface) is trying to create a platform that will give quality content that is not, well, click baity or articles that are simply ads disguised as content. Medium was swimming against the current, and it is losing. They have lost 25 % of their staff, and I wont be surprised if Medium shutters completely in a few years.

It’s the year 2017 now, and folks who grew up using free things on the internet will not start paying now. Free will always win. This has far reaching ramifications (and in some cases, the circle is already completed) for all of us. Content as we know it will disappear. Companies and the people who build stuff like medium will have to quit or give up altogether. 

To me, that is a scary world, but I guess, this is one of those things that just happen. It’s how it is, and we simply have to embrace it, pick up the broken pieces, throw the pieces in the recycle trash bin and just, live with it.

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