First published on Medium.

There was recently an article in the New York Times about Medium founder Evan Williams, and the struggles the platform has faced. Before you read this, I recommend heading over to the NYT page to get caught up.

The Internet is a Tool to Create and Deliver Information

“I think the internet is broken,” he says. He has believed this for a few years, actually. But things are getting worse. “And it’s a lot more obvious to a lot of people that it’s broken.”

I assert that the internet is not broken — it is behaving exactly like it has been created to do. While there are machine learning experiments, and significant problems facing content platforms, most of these issues arise from the individuals that generate and spread the content. Looking at the most recent election in the United States of America, wherein we elected an individual who is completely unqualified for the position he holds, many voters state-side bought into and spread information that was patently and demonstrably false (the reasons for which are complex and beyond the scope of this article). The web of computers devised to create and disseminate content did exactly what it was designed to do. Instead, I lay the blame for these problems like this where it belongs: solely at the feet of the users. The solution exists in some sort of global paradigm-shift where we as a culture embrace intellect, compassion and the free and open exchange of ideas.

The Value of Platforms Like Medium

“The notion that you’re going to succeed as a writing site simply by putting quality first is not compatible with venture capital revenue expectations,” said Bill Rosenblatt, a media technology consultant.

Mr. Rosenblatt is probably correct that from a venture capital perspective, Medium is not a terribly attractive investment. If you are looking at from a “how can I maximize my short-term returns,” Medium is likely not the smartest bet; you probably wouldn’t choose to invest in a library for the same reason. I argue that Medium has tremendous value, but you first have to define what one’s value system is. When defining “value,” it’s probably helpful to have read at least a little bit of Marx’s theories on capitalism — full disclosure, I’m not an economist, and only read some of his writings. One of the arguments Marx makes is that a product’s value is in-part determined by the time and complexity it takes to complete a task/product (building an iPhone, or a house for example, versus stamping out a plastic bottle from a die). Medium provides a platform for users to focus on content and the exchange of ideas. It requires more time to sit down and write a thoughtful essay than it does a pithy 140 character tweet. By Marx’s definition, there is more value (from a labor perspective) than say, Twitter.

As a designer, Medium certainly has more value to me. I can read the thoughts written by other designers, that one cannot simply pick up by perusing their Dribbble shots. Reading the thoughts and processes that designers use to solve complex problems (in user-interface, user-experience, branding, the list goes on) is invaluable to me. I am glad to support the platform with a small monthly subscription cost. With this in mind, I hope Medium is here to stay.