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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.Critics say Medium is less a company than it is Mr. “The notion that you’re going to succeed as a writing site simply by putting quality first is not compatible with venture capital revenue expectations,” said Bill Rosenblatt, a media technology consultant. He joined his old friend at Medium as both a board member and an investor.“Ev chose the hardest thing to do,” Mr. “He said, ‘I want to make publishing profitable.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, so does everyone else.’ How far along are we? Growing up in a place where he felt new people and new ideas were in short supply, he was starved for someone to talk to. material,” his former girlfriend and the co-developer of Blogger, Meg Hourihan, said in 2010 when the Twitter board pushed him out.“No one would have funded this if it weren’t by Ev Williams.”Mr. Living in a football-loving culture, and hating what he called “the stereotypical jock mentality, small brains thinking they’re superior because they’re surrounded by big muscles,” did not help, Mr. In 1993, a chance encounter with a new magazine at the mall in Grand Island, Neb., seemed to seal his destiny. If his vision was clear — get rid of the gatekeepers and let people talk — the road was not. A few years ago, Twitter was viewed as a tool of liberation.Williams’s supporters say that is a feature, not a bug, and that publishing needs all the experiments it can get. It was the second issue of Wired, a publication dedicated to the geek gospel that a new world was dawning. Both Blogger, the software he helped develop for blogging, and Twitter diverged from what their start-ups were actually supposed to be doing, and Twitter in particular involved a lot of well-chronicled drama among the four founders. Williams is deliberate to a fault, and his stint as Twitter’s chief executive in 2008 was not a managerial success. It enabled, some believed, the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East.One story was about a retired Army colonel named Dave Hughes who wanted to hook up all 5.5 billion brains on the planet. Twitter, like the internet itself, was putting tyranny on a short leash.SAN FRANCISCO — Evan Williams is the guy who opened up Pandora’s box. Four out of 10 adult internet users said in a Pew survey that they had been harassed online. Say you’re driving down the road and see a car crash. It is supposed to be a force for good.“A beautiful space for reading and writing — and little else,” Mr.
“There’s a lock on our office door and our homes at night. In the beginning, Medium had an editorial staff that sought out writers and rewarded them modestly for their contributions, just like a traditional magazine. Subscriptions have become more viable online in the last five years, refuting the long-held notion that no one would pay for writing on the web.
Norman wrote 100 Medium pieces in a year, about her brother’s autism, her mother’s bulimia, her own health, and the enduring carnival that is popular culture. Medium was supposed to be developing its business around advertising, which would have paid for writers like Ms. Then it abruptly pivoted in January and laid off a third of the staff, or about 45 people. “Write whatever you want, and we’ll pay you based on certain terms,” Mr. Facebook is hiring thousands of screeners to monitor its Facebook Live. “Twenty years isn’t very long to change how society works.”James Hong, best known for the popular rating-and-dating site Hot or Not?