When creating a social poetry app for a user and a user group there are a number of key aspects that have to be considered. The brief was to create an application that generated digital marginalia and create a social experience.
This critical review will go through the process from start to finish and define various points that have been made throughout .
In the beginning it was hard to figure out how you could translate a traditional art form like poetry into a digital format. I had to look at what was happening in the area and for relevant event poetry related. I spoke with local poet Gary Roberston on Twitter.
Gary is well a respected poet in the Dundee community and holds a number of accolades. It became apparent though that finding places where people interested in poetry met was a more difficult task than previously anticipated.
It was clear that more research had to be done into how they communicated with each other.
I went online to find out if there was an online community for poets and poetry lovers.
The Poetry forum is a website which allows poetry lover from different backgrounds to discuss, critique, comment and generally socialize with like-minded enthusiasts.
It was quite extraordinary the civility amongst other user when it came to critiquing one and other user work in comparison to other forum sites out there. The users debated which was the fairest way to critique a poem.
In the early stages of my research I came across a few things that surprised me . For instance I was under the impression that the main demographic would be older, middle class and maybe retired people. This seemed to be the stereotypical image of the poetry ethusiast.
However from the information that I gathered this wasn’t the case. In fact I found that in actuality that it was younger people who were starting to get more interested in poetry. The increasing numbers of social media sites related to poetry, one in particular being The Dundee University Poetry Society Facebook site. The age range of people out the 85 people who liked the page was in the 18-24 bracket. Although this is quite a small number in caparison to the poetry community at large .The significance of this cannot be underestimated. It did show that there was a student population who enjoyed poetry.
I also did not realized the significant of events like Def poetry Jam and the hip-hop culture has had on the art form in recent years had. Artist and poets like Saul Williams who began on Def Poetry Jam and has now gained mainstream success in not only the poetry circuit but also as a hip- hop artist with notable chart success.
It became clear that a key user group had emerged. An exercise took place where we had to identify some assumption that had to be about certain user group and how to meet their need. In a group we drawn up a list of key questions that we would ask if we had the time and resources to speak to different people to get an overall impression. We found an interview from the poet Gary Robertson and since there had been prior contact with him it seem the most appropriate option. Another reason was that he was unique from other contemporary poets in that he used the Dundee dialect in his poetry. We felt the with the amount scots language enthusiasts around the world and the fact that he is the lead singer in a punk band called The Cundeez tied in with music poetry we discovered previously. We then formed a user group around him and people who might follow him.
When the day had ended I realized that I had two main groups that I could target my app towards which were lovers of the scots language and young people who weren’t into poetry as such but maybe liked rap music or had some other link to poetry.
Although I had a good starting point it was clear that much more research had to be done if I were to really understand the art form itself but language, marginalia, book design and host of other sub-topics which tied with these. The university had arranged a talk and trip to the Scottish poetry library. The talk was with a well-respected poet named Ken Cockburn. This would give me exactly the information I needed to take a step forward in my project. As the class read through a number of poems it was difficult to understand the true meaning of what had been said in each of the poems .In some of the poems it was quite profound and easy to gage what the writer was saying. However a poem like small boy which is based on an empty beach can have a different meaning for someone from a different country . For example an empty beach in Scotland might damp and dull where as an empty beach in Thailand might idyllic and tranquil.
Another poem which was interesting was called Lucky bag wich had such a strong regional dialect to it that it was difficult to understand.
It became noticeable that the background of the poet was important when reading poetry because gave you an understanding of the writer’s surroundings.
Ken gave us a brief us history on marginalia and how it has affected language as a whole. He spoke about how the monks used marginalia when they used to write the bible that fellow monks would read from. He also gave the class his take on the emerging technologies and the rise of screen based literature. He said although some people are weary now about these new technologies we should bare in mind that people had similar concerns about the printing press. People thought that the printing press would see an end to writing but to this day writing hasn’t gone away.
In today’s age people have the same concerns about books being replaced with e-reader technology but books still remain. Overall this experience gave me a new perspective.
The poem object workshop was more a brainstorming exercise than anything else. The task which was given to us was to choose a poem from the best poems list and find related imagery. Imaginary CV by Tom Bryan that was how various three different backgrounds perceive their surroundings.
The main thing I got from it in terms of imagery was that it seemed to be about social class and the issues each character faces.
It was a good way to visualizing our idea process and inspired us to think in a way, which was never really explored before.
The “quick and dirty prototype method” which some people refered to it as, really helped my creative process.
In the concept generation phase I tried to look at the information I had already had gained from previous lectures and workshops. I tried to create an underlying theme which I could generate two concepts. The theme that I decide was the best fit was travel.
I was inspired by the talk by Ken Cockburn. I found that his talk changed what I was focusing on at the start of the project and led me in this new direction.
When I searched through a number of websites, books and look at online communities. I found my assumptions to be true but I did not have a market for who I was aiming this app towards. However it became clear that because a lot Gap year students kept a journal, enjoyed writing, wrote on their blog and possibly read poetry that this would be the ideal target market.
This lead to my first concept, which I believed, had the most potential even at it early stages. However I had to make sure I did my research.
The Poetry Scrapbook app is a concept designed to encourage ex and current gap year students interact with language and to rediscover old memories of their journeys along the way. The applications aims are to express poetry and in particular travel poetry in a visual way.
The idea emerged from research into various types of poetry and a talk from poet Ken Cockburn. He mentioned how language can conjure up different images for different groups of people. It also became apparent on further research that there was a link between poetry and travel. When conducting the interviews with travelers, it was found that was need for a more visual way expressing language and their thoughts while travelling.
The poem street app is designed to engage with young adults and give a fresh new insight into their culture
In this case it would Dundonian street poetry would the focal point of the app and Gary Robertson’s poems.
The idea behind the app is to create an engaging experience for younger people and to make allow them to explore where there from. Through an interview with local poet Gary Roberston and research, it was found that there was a need to for more modernized way of looking at local dialect. “Poem Street” will take the user on a journey through Dundee using poetry as a tool to do that.
I started wireframing my chosen concept in a sketchbook. I set out the structure of the app and how it might feel. I found this quite difficult because of the enormity of the application I was trying to make. I tried create a more descriptive way to show what my app would do so I rendered my sketches illustrator and added the appropriate gestures.
In hindsight simplified but fully functional application would have been a better option in the timeframe that I had been given.
The final prototype I called poem traveler which was modeled on the app Trip Journal for Iphone. The Trip Journal app’s main purpose is to allow travelers to share their thoughts and experiences. It has a number features which included Export videos to YouTube, Manage (add, delete, view) notes New waypoint, add pictures and video along with a host of other features. Although I tried give my app similarities I didn’t want to copy the app completely because my market was slightly different from Trip Journal’s target market. I wanted create something that gap user students would not only enjoy using but had a familiarity to it. I wanted the branding to make the app look like it belonged in a gap year student’s backpack or a rucksack. As I progressed through the project I added features that I thought were important such as the postcard feature. This features allows user to send postcard to their loved ones from anywhere with the aid of a printing firm.
The scrapbook is feature, which allows the user to create a collage of personal pictures, which relates to the poem, the person and the place and store them on the device. The poem library feature allows you to add your own poetry and read what is already there.
In conclusion through the course of the project I had a number of difficulties trying to create a functioning app. I had prototyped various different parts of the application but the elements didn’t transition from one element to the next.
My main problems were technology related rather than conceptually related. I think if focused on the technology at an earlier stage and tried to figure out how I was going to create my prototype then I would produced something with more functionality.
However I believe this experience has prepared me for my forth year project. I believe doing a project of this magnitude has given me a great deal confidence about planning, creating ideas, quick fire prototyping, setting my own deadlines and branding my app appropriately. I am optimistic about my fourth year project but I believe that I need to get the balance between creating something aesthetically pleasing and creating something that’s functional.