The gamification of article access, personal change, and transition strategies
As I’ve written about previously, Medium is not a publication, it is a social media site. It has all the hallmarks of social including endless scrolling, likes, in the form of claps, commenting, groups (publications), and rewards. It’s an attention game, designed to capture and keep our attention with all the hallmarks of the gamification that other social sites employ. If you’re not familiar with these gamification elements, Neilsen Norman Group, a UX/UI consultancy group has a brief video explaining how they work.
I’m a professional writer and this kind of media is fascinating to me, because of these gamification elements. The professional part of my writing is about understanding what people do online that leads them to buying or lifestyle decisions. The concept of unlimited scrolling, for example, is something unique to online media. As the video explains, this scrolling promises that the reader will eventually find a prize, in the form of interesting or profitable information, if they keep looking.
Endless scrolling offers an addictive experience and addiction is big business
While I applaud the Medium ad-free business model, the site is very much designed to create readers whose addiction is strong enough to motivate them to pay for unlimited access to the information candy that we are creating. Besides online gaming, which fully utilizes the addiction model, we are seeing the rise of webtoons, endlessly unfolding animated or illustrated stories that are huge in Korea and undoubtedly making their way across the world. As a storyteller, I’m considering writing something that never ends, a simulacrum of life itself, but do have to face the reality that, if it caught on, I’d be creating something addictive, not unlike the endless stream of novels by Daniele Steele or James Patterson.
Writing about writing
The sheer amount of writing about writing is a little overwhelming in volume and often underwhelming in quality or usefulness, though this is subjective. Essentially, when you have an endless feed of stories about the same creative process, you have the equivalent of a collective writer’s journal that is constantly updated and always live. This can be true about other subjects like health and self-improvement. In fact,the most popular tags on the site are all related to these types of personal improvement subjects. I’ll admit that there are other areas on Medium that I have not explored. They may have adopted a different model.
This is an observation, not a criticism
Although this piece may seem a bit like a rant, it is really an observation on a type of dialog that simply did not exist even a few years ago. As a writer, I don’t need to publish on Medium for money (a good thing based on my payouts!), but I do enjoy the freedom to write bits about things I’m thinking about. And I’m starting to have some meaningful dialog with others, whom I’ll likely never meet in person (though as this world contracts anything is possible). Writing is quite solitary, though I spend part of my day working in an office with others, and this medium offers some human contact with peers.
The other thing about posting articles here is that it is the opposite of my paid work which involves content marketing for B2B companies. That writing is highly structured and analyzed from a search and buyer need perspective. Here, I have no editorial or client overlords!
I’m about due for yet another change: scrolling through a life
One of the things I’m doing here is using my writing to explore where I’m headed next. I’ve been a professional musician in a band with a record deal, a nationally published author, a recording studio owner and music producer, a senior software marketing exec, a novelist, a car salesperson, a paralegal, a real estate broker…not necessarily in that order. I know there are people who resist change or are traumatized when it rears its head. I’m not one of those people. Some of these roles were transitional, like the car sales- it was a way out of a job I hated (paralegal). Ironically, the sales experience was so intense and the training so good that I eventually wrote a book about selling as part of a series on self-employment. That series led to my marketing career. It is its own kind of endless scroll, so maybe Medium is yet another embodiment of that scroll known as life. It certainly is something like that for me. We shall see if it is a transition or more significant.
I’m not really sure what this piece is. Somewhere between an observation and a journal entry? It’s where I give myself permission to be a little random…