Hack with a future

FEW feel as conflicted about the internet’s descent into glib, 140-character tweets as Evan Williams. As a co-founder of Twitter, he has profited handsomely from the social-media firm’s rise and remains its largest shareholder. Yet now his main project is to ensure that serious-minded, long-form prose will offset the torrent of tweets, often penned by twits.

Mr Williams’s latest venture, Medium, which launched in 2012, is a clean, elegant-looking destination for essays, open letters and “big think” pieces. It is trying to become the central hub for writing by the public at large, as YouTube is for amateur videos. Journalists, business executives and heads of state, including Barack Obama, have all published on Medium. When Amazon disagreed with a New York Times article on the e-commerce giant’s apparently brutal work culture, a senior executive from the firm wrote a long retort on Medium. Small papers and digital-media firms, such as the Pacific Standard and The Ringer, are using it to publish content.

As in Hollywood, it is easier to...Continue reading