With Medium, Evan Williams Is Tackling the Future of Writing Online

Image via CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase
Now, with his latest start-up, Medium, he is trying to figure out how we will write in the future.

As a founder of both Blogger and Twitter, Evan Williams helped change the way people write online.

Now, with his latest start-up, Medium, he is trying to figure out how we will write in the future.

Mr. Williams is also still trying to decide how to describe his venture. Medium is for short posts and long ones, by amateur writers and professional ones. It emphasizes a clean design and relies on a network of writers and readers to edit and discover new posts.

Released in 2012 to a small group of users, it now receives 13 million unique visitors a month, Mr. Williams said Thursday at a dinner hosted by Fortune in Menlo Park, Calif. Next week, Medium will introduce an iPhone app for reading posts (but not yet for writing them).

After Mr. Williams left day-to-day operations at Twitter, where he is still a board member, he returned to thinking about writing and journalism. Fifteen years after he co-founded Blogger, which he sold to Google in 2003, it seemed that blogging platforms “considered that job done,” he said.

But there are a lot of things blogs don’t do well, he said, like filtering and promoting posts of interest to readers. And using them can be time-consuming, requiring writers to choose backgrounds and formats and update their blogs regularly.

Mostly, it seems, he has been thinking about how to strike a balance between the old way of publishing, where professional editors were gatekeepers, and the new one, where anyone can post anything online.

“The way media is changing isn’t entirely positive when it comes to creating a more informed citizenry,” Mr. Williams wrote on Medium. “Now that we’ve made sharing information virtually effortless, how do we increase depth of understanding, while also creating a level playing field that encourages ideas that come from anywhere?”

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