Medium wants people to eat their 'information vegetables'

Obvious CEO and Twitter co-founder Evan Williams says his new project is about creating content that focuses on quality over speed.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
2 min read
Evan Williams, CEO of Obvious. Donna Tam/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO -- Evan Williams, Twitter co-founder and CEO of Obvious, wants to change the world that he helped create with platforms like Twitter and Blogger, by making his new platform, Medium, a model for curating quality information.

He said the tech industry's obsession with Web content creation has been about making it easy, and quick, for people to share real-time information. Medium, in contrast, is about creating collections of "better quality" content, Williams explained, going beyond the typical columns of text and sidebars, and working well with touch-based and mobile platforms.

Williams' vision is different from what media consumers have come to expect from Web-publishing tools. It's no wonder people were having difficulty understanding what the company had created when it released a preview of Medium in August. The platform organizes content through collections focused on specific themes.

Medium, he said, is not about what is new, which often gets more attention than it deserves. "Medium is trying to create different ways for content to be discovered and enjoyed," Williams said. The author is not as important, he added. "How content is discovered should not be dictated by author popularity or their social network."

He also mentioned possibly pairing up Branch, another Obvious investment that focuses on curated discussions.

Williams said his company has more interest in long-from content, but acknowledged that he and his colleagues may be naive. "People just care about junk food. Will they eat their information vegetables if they are available?"

He believes some people will. Williams said his goal with Medium is not about reaching everyone in the world, but to "have as much depth as possible." He likened the publishing platform to HBO.

"HBO is not the most popular, but they do really great stuff. I would rather be HBO than whoever produces 'Desperate Housewives,' even if they have more viewers," Williams said.