By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Tag: Evan Williams

Why Medium’s Ev Williams will fail at his quest to fix the internet

Ev Williams. Photo (cc) 2014 Christopher Michel.

Earlier this month The New York Times published a profile of Evan Williams, an internet entrepreneur who has done as much as anyone to promote the notion that each of us can and should have a digital voice. He founded Blogger, the first widespread blogging platform. He co-founded Twitter. And, in 2012, he launched Medium, a platform for writing that he hoped would become an alternative to the sociopathy that defines too much of the online world.

It hasn’t worked — not because the quality of Medium isn’t good; much of it is. Rather, he hasn’t been able to find a workable business model that attracts readers, rewards writers, and generates profits for his investors. In other words, Williams is dealing with the same problems as publishers everywhere, and his bona fides have proven to be of little help.

“I thought once everybody could speak freely and exchange information and ideas, the world is automatically going to be a better place,” Williams told the Times’ David Streitfeld. “I was wrong about that.”

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Official Twitter clients still not ready for prime time

The folks who run Twitter are starting to lose their tolerance for third-party clients, according to Jolie O’Dell of Mashable.

She specifically mentions two of my favorites: TweetDeck, which may already have run afoul of the Gods of Twitter, and HootSuite, which Twitter apparently has no problems with, but which I find to be a bit more complex than it needs to be.

I would have no problem using Twitter’s official clients for my Mac and my iPhone if they included some of the basic functionality that third-party apps offer. To wit:

  • The ability to post to multiple Twitter accounts. I use two — my own (@dankennedy_nu) and Northeastern’s School of Journalism’s (@NUjournalism). As best as I can tell, if I do it the official way, I have to log out of one account and then log into another. By contrast, on TweetDeck or HootSuite, I simply check which feed I wish to post to. I can even post to two simultaneously.
  • Automatic link-shortening. If this is available on the official Twitter client, I can’t find it. Why would I want to copy a link, paste it into a link-shortening site like and then copy the result back into Twitter when I can just copy and paste it at TweetDeck or HootSuite and watch it automatically shrink? (HootSuite does require a trivial extra half-step.)

Twitter recently cracked down on ÜberTwitter, which was literally the only decent client for BlackBerry. Glad I’m not using a BlackBerry anymore. O’Dell writes:

Twitter has already adopted many of the ideas third-party devs brought into the system. For example, the impressive interface of the “New Twitter” felt more to us like a really great third-party app than anything else. And Twitter’s mobile apps, which were a boon to overall Twitter usage, were informed and inspired by existing third-party apps, too.

Well, fine. But Twitter is going to have to make a few more improvements before I’m willing to switch to its official apps. I hope Biz Stone, Evan Williams and company don’t force the issue and more than they already have.

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