We told you a bit about Ev Williams and his vision for the future of publishing with his new product, Medium, the other day. I mentioned in that piece that his company, Obvious, was hiring a variety of interesting positions. Today, Williams announced a new addition, a Director of Content.
The new hire, Kate Lee, is a former literary agent at International Creative Management (ICM).
Here’s what Williams had to say about Lee’s hiring today, which comes after a short hiatus for her:
We’re glad she’s done reading books for pleasure and will now spend time reading Medium posts (also pleasurable!).
I was introduced to Kate this fall, via Obvious’s East Coast compatriots, Josh Miller and Jason Goldman. (Apparently, once you’re in New York, you meet everyone else there. Something about the density.) I thought she would be a great person to pioneer our content development efforts, given her editorially honed mind, business savvy, and demonstrated tenacity at finding diamonds in the rough.
What Williams describes here is a person who has an eye for really amazing content, something that his service, Medium, is working on bubbling up. Medium is still in private beta, but you can create content in different themed collections, allowing others to add to them. It’s a really amazing collaborative experience, because you can come up with a theme, which can then kickstart someone to write the content.
On why Medium felt it needed to hire a Director of Content, Williams had this to say:
Truth be told, there’s only so far that content can be “directed” on a platform like Medium, which will be an open marketplace of ideas, where everyone can participate and publish. After all, great ideas can come from anywhere, and part of our mission is to level the playing field. Also, we expect the world (users of Medium) will play a much bigger role in determining what thrives on the system than we will.
Once again, Williams and his team are setting out to blaze a new path for publishing. He did it once with Blogger, once again with Twitter and now Obvious is taking a full-on swing at the fences with Medium. The difference is that the company will now be more involved with content, clearly creating and curating some itself. Williams states that Lee will be reaching out to talented individuals, be it professors, authors or people with something to say, to bring their content to the Medium community.
Medium answers the problem that has plagued potential writers for a lifetime: “I have nothing to say. Nothing to write about. I have no ideas.” The prompting nature of Medium is extremely innovative when it comes to solving that problem. This is something that the service Plinky tried to work on, which was acquired by Automattic to help WordPress bloggers come up with fresh content.
It’s a gorgeous and inviting platform to write on, and I’m enjoying myself thoroughly thus far. The visual treatment for images on the platform is equally impressive. The best part is, there is both a free-form nature in the community, as well as a very focused mentality, when it comes to collections and themes of pieces. Lee will be based in New York City, and will be building out a team of her own.
It will be interesting to see which pieces Williams adds to the puzzle next.