Matt

Founder at Write.as

I don’t trust computers. I work with them, I use them, I program them, and I can generally understand how they operate. But I never trust them fully, no matter how much I’m supposed to.

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As a kid I always wanted to be an architect. I'm not sure where the desire came from — maybe Legos and Tinker Toys — but long after I got into computers, instead, I started learning more about my unrealized dream profession.

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Mainstream social media is just like the suburbs — inhabited by many people, with the aura of a town (even Zuckerberg falsely dubbed Facebook a “town square”), but without the civic institutions that actually make it a town.

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I'm slowly, quietly mulling over the idea of a Write.as “version 2” that takes the past six years of lessons and starts from scratch, in terms of our user experience.

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As I wrote about in July, this year we started experimenting with paid content on Write.as and WriteFreely via a proposed standard called Web Monetization. Now we support paid articles, which we'll be fully announcing this week. Here's a demo of what that looks like.

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I'm thinking about notifications and writing digitally. When do I need to be notified of something related to my digital writing?

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I chased many things this year, particularly in business, and didn't achieve what I was hoping for. This hit me in the last week or so. Since I've been striving and grasping all year, reaching November far short of my goals felt disappointing — which is unusual for me. I'm usually fluid and adaptable, but at some point this year I stopped moving, my old goals ossified into hopes, and I lost my beat. Now I'm trying to reset a bit.

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For a while, I've been looking to dip our toes into payments / monetization for writers on Write.as and WriteFreely. I've taken a “wait and see” approach to this so far, but now we're starting to experiment with some ideas.

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Starting early last year, we saw a new creative use for WriteFreely: internal blogging. At the time, we worked with a large client to modify our open source platform and let admins run their site completely privately. We included this new option in the core platform, and started using it ourselves (as we do with all of our software). Then we launched a new hosted service, called Write.as for Teams, that I imagined would be the next big thing for us.

After some time, it's clear that this is still the next big thing for us. But the execution will be a bit different from what we initially planned — and it's in progress now.

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This morning I spent some time thinking about Read Write.as and its general purpose. I want to keep its “publication”-like feel, so we pushed out some simple design changes that make it look more like that. But I also want to support the amazing social activity that's grown on it through quoted replies, good old-fashioned links, and shared hashtags. It's time to start thinking about facilitating conversation, instead of it happening accidentally.

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