Monday, July 9, 2018

Navigating the Cyber Seas with Skipper Ev Williams on the Good Ship Medium

I think writers should work for readers instead of advertisers, so I’m voting with my credit card. I happily pay for products I love. Writing is no exception. ~ Andrew Courter

Ev Williams may not be the household name that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are, yet, but he's made an impact that touches households wherever there is Internet access and electricity. Born in '72, he's still just getting started, but look what this Nebraska farm boy has thus far accomplished.

He began his career in the marketing wing of the tech publisher O'Reilly Media and eventually got into writing computer code. While still in his 20s he co-founded a company called Pyra Labs to make project management software. One of the by-products was Blogger, one of the first apps for creating blogs, which was eventually sold to Google for a tidy little sum in 2003. (Ennyman's Territory was born four years later in 2007.) Williams was just 31 when he was getting recognition as a somebody to watch by MIT Technology Review and PC Magazine.

In 2007, around the time I began blogging Williams co-founded Twitter, which I began using a year later. The app was very powerful and candidate Obama was very quick to explore its capabilities. Eight years later another candidate exploited its power to effectively bypass a hostile media and speak directly to his fan/followers.

The entrepreneur's current passion is a new platform called Medium, a community of readers and writers that is intentionally ad-free. Though his vision for this new space has been criticized by some, it's apparent that Medium is being widely embraced by others.

In a NYTimes article titled "The Internet Is Broken": @Ev Is Trying To Salvage It, Mr. Williams elaborates on what he is trying to do on Medium. It's Utopian and another interesting experiment. Trying to create a community without the corrosive effects of advertising does not mean it has not shortcomings. In theory it's supposed to be better writing, better content, without the distractions of marketers. And yet, how can everyone be above average?

When I discovered Blogger I immediately recognized its power, and appreciated its ease of use. Twitter, though an entirely different user experience, likewise opened new possibilities of social interaction. Many of the great thinkers of our age have Twitter accounts and share with us what is on their minds.

Medium is like a separate universe. Or maybe a separate galaxy within the cyber-universe. It's less clear how to best utilize its capabilities, but I'm making an attempt to see how it works. There are purportedly 30 million monthly visitors, and based on the publication readerships a vast quantity of these are loyal readers and dedicated writers.

FWIW, @Ev is Ev Willams' Twitter handle and you can follow him here.

Related Links
The Battle for the Soul of Advertising Will Affect Everything
Ev Williams Explains the Medium Model

Meantime life goes on all around you. Get into it.

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