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He thinks it is already a relic of an earlier era, kind of like communicating by carrier pigeon or telegraph.“Medium feels like the perfect Obama-era platform: minimal, distinguished, self-important, elevated,” Mr. “But as soon as the campaigns really ramped up their efforts in the primaries, we were living in a post-Obama world, metaphorically, and then literally. Even some Medium writers are critical of the new subscription effort, fearing they will lose whatever audience they may have had.And that post-Obama world holds no room for minimalist, distinguished, self-important, elevated thoughtfulness.”So what’s a mere writer to do? “Why write for a pittance for your words,” wrote one of them, Keith Parkins, “only to then find no one is reading what you have taken the time and trouble to write, because it resides within a fenced-off ghetto?Williams’s mistake was expecting the internet to resemble the person he saw in the mirror: serious, high-minded.“I’ve come to realize Ev is extremely intellectual and introspective,” Mr. “If he could wave a magic wand, he’d have everyone write the kind of things he likes, like, ‘Here are suggestions on climate change.’”It was just another Utopian dream, Mr. “The problem is that not everyone is going to be cool, because humans are humans,” he says.
Medium’s latest incarnation, unveiled in late March, included a monthly subscription for premium writing. “Ev Williams Has Lost His Goddamn Mind,” ran the headline in The Next Web, an online publication. He looks more like a Beatnik poet, staying up until dawn to debate existentialism, than the son of a Nebraska farmer, which he is.
The internet was started without the expectation that we’d have to do that online.”Writers want readers and, usually, money. Abby Norman, then in her early 20s and working for the medical records department of a Maine hospital, was pulled in.forge relationships with writers and editors,” she says. The inevitable solution: People will have to pay for quality content.”Mr. Some publications have had significant increases since the election of Mr. Medium declined to say how many subscribers it has, saying that its effort is still informal.
Readers want to be entertained, instructed or outraged. Yet no one has come up with a satisfactory and sustainable way of harnessing the internet to satisfy all these parties without descending into sleaze and clickbait.“Now that we’ve made sharing information virtually effortless, how do we increase , while also creating a level playing field that encourages ideas that come from anywhere? “They seduced me into this idea, that I had stuff worth saying.”Ms. But as Medium grew more popular with writers, she competed to be heard above the din, and struggled to find people that she herself wanted to read on the site.“Now being here is work, and it’s not ‘digging for buried treasure’ fun work, either,” she wrote on Medium last September. In any case, it’s not going to be an online magazine. Williams resists the notion that Medium should be seen as a traditional publisher, commissioning, editing and making stuff available. Bookstores don’t commission material, but they curate it and sell it. ”As Medium struggles to define itself, the older new communications platforms — Google, Facebook, Twitter — are trying to deal with their unexpected toxicity.
In the history of communications technology, it was a development with echoes of Gutenberg. By the time Google bought the company in 2003, more than a million people were using it. So, in different ways, are Google and Facebook, and even Twitter. “The words are central.”Early chatter was enthusiastic, based on Mr.
Fake news, whether created for ideology or profit, runs rampant. The internet interprets behavior like this to mean everyone is asking for car crashes, so it tries to supply them. “If I learn that every time I drive down this road I’m going to see more and more car crashes,” he says, “I’m going to take a different road.”But a new road may have other problems. If he and others can’t find a path forward, if they can’t solve what he calls “the architecture of content creation, distribution and monetization on the internet,” there are unsettling implications for the future of news and ideas. Medium is supposed to be social and collaborative without rewarding the smash-ups.