Why We’re Building A New Product To Change The Way We Read Online

Otis Chandler
4 min readOct 27, 2021


Now near the end of 2021, it’s more and more clear that an update is needed to Jobs’ famous statement. In today’s world of attention economics, “time” has been displaced by “attentiveness.”

Yes, of course, time is still a vitally precious commodity that, for now at least, we all only have so much of. But one’s attention, while also capped, is arguably even more precious. It also happens to be a battleground, which, thanks to ever-more-targeted ads and centralized moats teeming with data for billions of users, is very, very, very monetizable.

So when it comes to the discovery and consumption of online content, it is now overwhelmingly clear that the incentives of the system have been corrupted.

This is why I am starting a new organization to help address the problems we are all facing. While there are a number of issues with digital media we could focus on, here are the five worst offenders as I see them.

The Problems With Online Media Today

Problem #1: We don’t agree on truth.

The old model of “truth” was that a journalist conducts research and interviews experts, then editors and fact checkers verify it, then it’s published and becomes generally accepted as truth. The new model is partisan publishers, who deliberately and expressly do not seek out experts on both sides of an issue. Contraction of the media industry since 2008 has resulted in the elimination of 26% of all newsroom staff while fact checking, at many publishers, has been viewed as a production cost that’s been eliminated or diminished. The result? Overall trust in US media hit an all time low in 2021, bottoming out at 27%, which ranks last among 46 nations in a recent Reuters survey. So Truth has become a social agreement — eg I agree with what my community, or my preferred media brands, think, regardless of objectivity or expert opinion.

Problem #2: The business model of digital advertising does not incentivize high quality, accurate content.

The Big Tech algorithms are configured to snare our attention, which has created an explosion of clickbait and fear-mongering engineered to garner eyeballs. Our feeds are filled with content trying to go viral that plays on our emotions, particularly our fears, which includes disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda. This has led to an overall marked decrease in the quality of content. But from a strictly ad revenue–generating perspective, accuracy and objectivity are far less important than outsized distribution and pageviews.

Problem #3: It’s too hard to find good stuff to read in the limited time I have.

A firehose of content aimed at our head. A never-ending barrage of push alerts and emails and endless scrolling. Most of us have a daily feeling of being overwhelmed by it all. Yet how do we cut through the torrent and stay informed? There have been many attempts to solve this, including algorithmically (better feed algorithms, better news recommendation algorithms), a proliferation of email newsletters designed to summarize the news in bite-sized snippets, or the growing trend of new publications that aim to “cut through the noise” and deliver higher quality, straight to your inbox (eg see Substack). In general, most of us have cobbled together a few disparate methods that kind of work for us. Kind of.

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Problem #4: Most of us are reading reactively, not proactively. We read what the Big Tech algorithms push at us. We read what our various filter bubbles share with us. We read what editors of publications we visit or subscribe to curate for us. But what we don’t do is be intentional. We don’t ask ourselves “What do I really need to know about or learn more about today in order to achieve my goals”? As a thought experiment, try this right now — ask yourself what are the topics you’d like to learn more about given what is going on in your work and life, and then compare them to what you’d read if you just went to your regular news sources.

Problem #5: Most of us are getting our information from too few sources.

Reading across different sources gives us different perspectives and improves our diversity of thought, which is vitally important. However, paywalls and filter bubbles are limiting too many of us to reading the same set of too few publications.

We looked at these problems and asked ourselves: Why is there no dedicated application for reading news that helps to alleviate these problems? We are working on just that! We are building this using a combination of machine learning and community to curate, and as such we will eventually be structured not as a company but a community owned, decentralized autonomous organization (DAO).

We are currently hiring for smart engineers, if you are interested please apply here.