Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone hope their new site Medium will be, well, the medium for your message.
The publishing platform — a preview of which was unveiled by Williams, Stone and Twitter alumnus Jason Goldman on Tuesday — aspires to offer a better way for people to share everything from photos to essays, as well as to collaborate with others to create “collections” of content around a theme. The site is the brainchild of The Obvious Corporation, an incubator co-founded by Williams, Stone, and Goldman.
“[W]e’re re-imagining publishing in an attempt to make an evolutionary leap, based on everything we’ve learned in the last 13 years and the needs of today’s world,” Williams wrote in an introductory post on Medium.
Williams’ blog post is an ambitious media manifesto of sorts in which he argues the world needs to think more creatively about the way people create and distribute what they create online. It also hints at his — and perhaps his collaborators’ — sense that networks have become too “noisy” and information too “infinite” and of questionable quality. It’s a remarkable stance for the team that popularized the 140-character updates that made sharing insights instantaneous and easy.
Publishing is important, Williams writes, but that’s “easy to forget this given how much pointless and destructive media is in the world.”
He also suggests that improving the way content is shared could improve the quality of the content being shared.
“Lots of services have successfully lowered the bar for sharing information, but there’s been less progress toward raising the quality of what’s produced,” according to Williams. “While it’s great that you can be a one-person media company, it’d be even better if there were more ways you could work with others. And in many ways, the web is still mimicking print concepts, while not even catching up to it in terms of layout, design, and clarity of experience.”
What does a “re-imagined” publishing platform look like? A bit like Tumblr, with a pinch of Pinterest and a sprinkling of Reddit’s ranking system. Williams and Stone acknowledge that Medium is still a work in progress, but outline a few qualities that, in their view, help define it. First, it’s designed to accommodate people who want to post or simply hope to peruse.
Users can also work together to curate “collections” of anything from childhood snapshots to stories, though collections can be either open or closed. Within a collection, updates that have received the highest ratings from the Medium community get top billing, which Williams calls an effort to “[help] people get the most out of their time in this world of infinite information.” Williams says posting “is elegant and easy,” though we’ll have to take him at his word as that feature is currently available only to a select group of “friends and family.”
“Everything from the way we consume content to how that content is created needs re-imagining,” added Stone in his own post on Medium. “Our ideas are much farther along than our product. Medium is only a sliver of what it could be.”
You can register for Medium here, or scroll down for a peek at what the site looks like so far.