What if there’s no algorithm?

What if Medium’s staff curates the content? Does Medium get more words and posts than people there can read and evaluate?

What I’d love to see on Medium, apart from better tools for writers,* are running totals. Something that tells you the number of words published since Medium got started.

How deep is the content? Has the platform passed the trillion-word mark? And how many words and posts got published today?

All recommendations are not created equal

Recommendations matter. They determine what content gets seen and by whom. But as others have pointed out, all recommendations are not created equal.

Medium staff recommendations have far greater impact than a recommendation from some schlub. Like myself, for instance.

Green hearts are like greenbacks

Think of those little green hearts as greenbacks. A recommendation from me would count as a $1 bill. Staff recommendations are benjamins.

A recommendation from Ev Williams is the coin of the realm. I bet it turns out that one of Williams’s little green hearts are worth ten thousand of mine. And therein lies a problem.

Series 1918 $10,000 Federal Reserve Note. This serial #1 note was part of the U.S. Treasury collection. Transferred to the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution in 1978. Public Domain: Image by Godot13: National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History.**

What if something happens to Williams? Well, something did happen. Remember that Medium story about an airbnb rental that ended in a horrible tragedy?

Someone’s dad died after a tree branch fell on him. Ev Williams said something about that accident, and some people got mad at him. The Internet rage machine subjected him to a torrent of abuse.

Ev Williams ducked out of sight for a few weeks. Kept a low profile and stopped issuing recommendations. That was analogous to shutting off the money supply at Medium.

Disclosure: What I don’t know about economics would fill a whole library. When I add two and two, I get twenty-two. I know as much about monetary theory as a goose knows about Jesus.

But the fact remains that those little green hearts are money, honey. Tighten the money supply or take it out of circulation, and you’re asking for trouble. Next thing you know, you’re in a recession.

Could this be what happened? If so, how do we keep it from happening again?

*Like footnotes, for example. See “Medium Needs Footnotes.”

** That’s Salmon Portland Chase on the bill, by the way. He was Governor of Ohio and then Secretary of the Treasury in Lincoln’s cabinet. Chase later served as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Margaret Leech called him a pious hypocrite.

There are about three hundred $10,000 bills still in circulation. They are sought after by collectors and are worth more than their face value.

The engraved signatures are those of John Burke and Carter Glass. Burke was the 24th Treasurer of the United States. Glass was the 47th Secretary of the Treasury. Both appointed by Woodrow Wilson.

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