Can we ever make the Medium we want?

Forcing change.

Maybe the algorithms have become more responsive or maybe I have changed the way I use Medium and not previously noticed how responsive they can be.

Follow new people, recommend different posts in different tags and a host of new content based on those actions instantly appears in my feed.

It has become a lot more obvious how certain aspects of the algorithms work and how we can use them to "fix" our feeds. But there are still gaps, little black holes where content gets sucked in and we don't exactly know to what degree.

"Show fewer stories like this" sounds like a good way to remove unwanted clutter but how does it account for nuance? Where is the event horizon beyond which nothing returns, nothing is visible?

But there are also crazy wormholes, story spewing singularities that respond to our actions in ways we would rather they didn't.

A follow or recommend will immediately give us more from that person but there seems to be no flow control, no finesse. The algorithms get over zealous, regurgitating unrelated stories from years ago just because they are by the same author.

It's all or nothing.

This is the problem with follow and block, with algorithms that work on rules - I like posts about Twitter, I don't like listicles.

Include and exclude.

What happens when those rules intersect and clash? There will always be exceptions so what takes priority?

We are creatures of habit, sure, but "something about us compels us to learn, explore" and an algorithm cannot match that compulsion, that curiosity, that nuance of thought and taste.

How many of us leave the safety of our feeds and jump with both feet into Reading Roulette or scan the trending topics?

Despite our best efforts and digital snobbery, we run the risk of getting caught up in the same filters bubbles we so detest on Facebook. We constantly need to keep things fresh but how much effort do we, should we, expend in tweaking the algorithms?

Is it even possible or are we wasting time pursuing an unobtainable facsimile?

Are we forever chasing the white rabbit?

Colin Walker Colin Walker colin@colinwalker.blog