Critical Report

For the Advanced Online Media module this semester, I did two assessments. For the first, I ran a blog live for the day called ’12 Hours In Soho’, which looked at the gentrification of Soho. For the second assessment, I pitched a new app which is designed to help young people with gender dysphoria.

I came up with the idea for the live blog because I had read a lot about the gentrification of Soho,  but I hadn’t seen anything written by someone who actually spent some time there. There seemed to be a lot about what Soho was, but not quite as much about what Soho is now. Equally, I hadn’t seen any ‘day in the life’ stories that were live-blogged.

Before the day, I conducted my interviews so that even if I struggled to get much material on the day, I would have something. In the end, I managed to get five interviews, four of which were typed as interviews and one that was put onto Soundcloud. Also prior to the day, I made sure I had things to do so that the blog wouldn’t be boring. I also researched which platforms I wanted to use, and set up accounts on all of them.

The main problem I had on the day was getting everything up. I think I had been a little over-ambitious with the amount of content I had created, and it was challenging to find the time to put it all up. In the end, I had to put it up across two days (the lack of wi-fi on the day didn’t help too). In the end, this worked out well because one of my interviews came in late.

The idea for the app came whilst watching Louis Theroux’s documentary about transgender children. Most of the children on the show had supportive parents, but not every parent is that great. Therefore, I decided that I wanted to create an app that could help these young people out, but could be easily hidden so that the young people wouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed.

Researching the market for this app was difficult, and was a problem when making my pitch. Although there is obviously a market for this app, there has been no market research. Therefore, I decided to focus more on the transgender suicide statistics, because they were shocking and really highlight why there is a need for an app like this.

The other potential problem I had to overcome was having nothing to compare this app to. There is nothing like this, which is good because it means that my idea is original. However, there isn’t a tested formula, which means that it’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t. This is hard to overcome, so in the end, I just had to trust myself and my ideas.

So, what was good about my individual project? I think that it was good because I pushed myself. It was definitely the most ambitious piece of work I’ve done at university, and I think it showed everything that I can do. Equally, I think it showed some originality. I haven’t seen a story like this represented like this, and I think it’s something that could work in future. I think my blog looked professional too, which is something I worked on.

Perhaps I was a little bit overly ambitious though. I think if I had streamlined the whole project, I could have spent more time working on the quality of some of the features, rather than the quantity. For example, with the audio interview, if I had less to do, I could have perhaps edited it a bit better (rather than just putting it on Soundcloud as I had recorded it).

Another thing I could have done is to use a live-streaming app at some point during the day. I had originally planned to use Meerkat ‘at some point’ (probably when I was really bored in Soho Square), but I couldn’t because the video wouldn’t have recorded. I think if I was doing it again, but I was getting marked, I would use a livestreaming app (it wouldn’t need to be recorded).

With my pitch, I think the app was good because it was a completely original idea. I think I fulfilled the brief because I found a problem in society, and tried to find a solution to said problem. I also identified a niche, which is important when launching a new app because the app world is obviously very saturated. Equally, I think my app is original, which is also necessary for the app market.

I think my pitch could have been better though. Hopefully my passion came through (I was very passionate about this idea), but I think I may have missed a few points in my pitch. Although I didn’t have enough time in the pitch anyway, I perhaps should have talked about budgets more. Admittedly I did go into my idea to partner with other charities, but I could have been a bit more specific when it came to funding.

Equally, I think my app may have been a little too ambitious. Although this app wouldn’t require much budget, perhaps I over-estimated how much the charities would be willing to give. This app would have to be run on a shoestring, so perhaps I shouldn’t have included so many different features. Similarly, this lack of budget could mean that a live-chat service would be incredibly difficult (unless it relied on volunteers).

It’s difficult to compare my two projects to anything that has been done before because there isn’t anything like them. However, I think the process behind them is professional. I found a niche for both of my projects (people interested in Soho and young people with gender dysphoria), and that’s becoming so important in the production of new media products. In this way, I also managed to use new media (such as other apps) to make my individual project, which is something that online media increasingly does (I’ve seen so many ‘old media’ companies using Periscope, for example).

The biggest thing that I’ve learnt in this module is to not just settle for words. Yes, I came to university to learn how to write, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use other mediums in my work. For example, if I was writing a gig review, I could throw a vine or two into it. Similarly, I could do an interview live over Meerkat or Periscope, rather than filming a proper interview.

Another big thing that I’ve learnt in this module is that online work doesn’t need to be perfect. I think that online media has more of a sense of urgency to it, so it’s more important just to throw stuff out there and edit it in retrospect. It’s also necessary to do this because it could quickly become outdated. I, for one, used to spent hours making my blog posts as well-written as possible. While this works for a blog, I think I’ve learnt that I need to be quicker when I’m working for someone else.

The App: Name

First thing’s first: I’ve decided to pitch the app for transgender youth. I’ve been thinking about it for the last few days, and I’ve thought a lot more about it than GigBuddy. I’ve been coming up with so many ideas for the app and the design, so I think I’ll be able to pitch it better.

I’ve been researching the market and there is a clear gap for this app. By ‘clear gap’, I mean there literally isn’t anything like this. However, research by Pace suggests that 59% of trans people under-25 consider suicide, so I think this app could help them come to terms with themselves. Equally, there’s a piece on The Guardian about how to care for trans pupils in school, and I think that highlights the need for this app. One child questioned says that they hate pretending to be a girl, just to fit in with mixed-gendered seating. Schools still place so much importance on gender, so I think it’s important to create a space for these young people where they’ll be accepted.

In terms of the name, I’ve decided to call the app ‘Shift’. Obviously, ‘Shift’ suggests a change, which is something that these people will be going through. More than that though, I like the name ‘Shift’ because the Shift key on a keyboard turns a letter into the most important version of itself, and that mirrors the journey that these people will be going through. Finally, players will have to ‘shift’ their phones left and right in the game.

The App: Initial Ideas

For the next assessment, I am planning to pitch an app. I didn’t consciously decide to make an app, but the two ideas I have come up with are both apps.

GigBuddy

The first app idea that I’ve come up with is called ‘GigBuddy’. The app would allow people who go to gigs by themselves to find people to hang out with at the gig. The reason I came up with this app is that I used to never have anyone to go to gigs with, so this would have helped me.

The app would be linked to the user’s Facebook page, as that may be a way to stop catfish/general creeps. There would also be a way to report people who are suspicious, which I think is particularly important given that this app will primarily be used by young people (ie people who don’t have significant others to drag along).

My only worry with this app is that the target audience could be too niche. I do worry that someone who doesn’t have the confidence to go to a gig by themselves probably wouldn’t want to meet a stranger there. Equally, I wonder whether people would care enough to use the app; perhaps people just like going to gigs alone.

Untitled App

No, this isn’t the least creatively titled app of all time. I only came up with this idea on the train last night, so I haven’t got that far yet.

But here’s the thing: this app is a charity help app for young people with gender issues. The app would include help pages (that could be personalised, depending on the level of dysphoria), as well as live-chat with psychiatrists and other young people. There would also be a calendar, which could be personalised so that the young people could see events in their area.

The main thing with this app though is that it would be a secret app. The name would be generic, and the app would open with a simple game (that would be fully functioning). The young person would swipe right to reveal the actual app. Once on the app, the young person would swipe right again to go back to the game.

I like this idea because it’s not something that’s easy to talk about, so I think it’s important to have it in disguise. Equally, I think it’ll make the young person feel safe because they are unlikely to get caught on it.

I like this idea because I think it’s something that would work across a number of different charities. I can imagine being good for a domestic violence charity, for example, as the partner could hide the app when the abuser is in the room. Equally, I think it could work for bullying.

From the research I’ve done so far, I’m surprised that this hasn’t been done yet. Even more than a laptop, a phone is something that is very personal and private. Therefore, the fact that they can hide what they are looking at may be appealing to the target market.

The Plan

For this part of my coursework, I have decided to run a blog live for the day. I’m going to be using a number of different platforms, with the main blog running on WordPress, as well as using social networks such as YouTube, Twitter, Vine and Soundcloud. The reason I have chosen to do this because I have never seen cross-platform journalism done in such a fast-paced way. Admittedly, this might be because it’s not going to work, but I think it could potentially be a way to review gigs in the future.

The story I’m going to cover is the gentrification of Soho, and to do this, I will spend twelve hours there this weekend. I’ve chosen to do this story because I know Soho quite well, so I already have ideas of ways to spend that period of time. Equally, I want to find out whether Soho is as fun as it’s meant to be, and I think getting initial reactions will work better than say, writing a 2,000 word piece on it a week later.

Before the day, I plan to do interviews with people from both sides of the argument. I have contacted many people from either side of the debate, but have so far only got two potential interviews from the ‘Save Soho’ side. To combat this, I’m going to make a post about an area that has been gentrified, to see whether or not it will actually hurt Soho that much.

On the day, I’m planning to spend 12 hours there, exploring the shops, bars, cinemas, theatres etc. I plan to do vox pop Vines during the day, to see what actual people think. This could help get opinions from the other side of the argument too, as people may like that chains are moving into the area.

I’m route planning at the moment, but I am going to try to use as many independent venues as possible. For example, I would like to get my hair cut at one of the two barber shops that only charge £10 for a cut. I think that I might be able to talk to them about how they’re surviving, especially as they’re so cheap in comparison to other salons in the area.

Possible problems could include the fact that there may be poor service in Soho. I’m going to visit there this week to try to find a wi-fi hotspot, but if I’m struggling on the day, I’m going to run the blog as live on the Sunday. Equally, I’m buying a portable phone charger to preserve battery life. Another problem could be running out of things to do. To combat this, I’m going to try to meet up with lots of people, as well as try to crowd source ideas. I have a lot of friends that work around there, so hopefully someone will give me some good advice.

I’ve decided to run the blog separately to this one, so all the posts will be uploaded to: 12hoursinSoho.wordpress.com.

 

Mobile News

I’m focusing on mobile news in this ‘research diary’ because the app I’m planning to make for the second assessment is a news service. Plus, news is obviously going in the direction of mobile news.

In their reporting of the 2014 GCSE results, The Guardian chose to use Vine to illustrate the stats. In 2013, Vine had more than 40 million users around the world. This is potentially lucrative for The Guardian therefore as generally, users of Vine are quite young.

This works for this kind of story because the topic is in line with the kind of people who use Vine. By this, I mean that I don’t think the death of someone in the public eye would necessarily work in Vine format. However, I guess it could work for someone like Joan Rivers, potentially in a story such as ’15 Funniest Joan Rivers Put-Downs’.

News is also moving now to Snapchat, with more and more celebrities turning to Snapchat to promote their material. I’m friends with Madonna on Snapchat (no really), who teased her video launch and premiered the video on the app. I think this really works because it adds a fan/artist connection, which is something that is really needed in 2015. I also like that it’s a fun way to tell the news because ultimately, if there’s a fun way and it’s appropriate then I think it’s ideal.

Snapchat also recently launched it’s own news service, which offers short news on the app. I really like this, because I like news presented in a simple and concise way. It’s also good because it’s one less app cluttering the screen. However, I don’t think it’s 100% flawless because unlike Twitter or Facebook, Snapchat isn’t made for sharing links. It’s more for selfies and pets doing funny things. I think that perhaps a news service should start using Snapchat to send pictures from the scene directly to users, rather than being built into the app itself.

Infographics

I love an infographic.

There’s just something about an infographic that makes what could be a dull story into something more fun. If you can simplify news into something more simple and easy to use, then surely that’s a good thing.

Here are some infographics that I particularly love:

Beyoncé-Infographic-NI-031-e1362004907760(source: Networked Insights)

This infographic is amazing. I really love how it condenses everything you would want to know about the Superbowl and turns it into something manageable. The design is great too, in that it’s easy to use yet doesn’t look basic. It literally might have just been me but I remember there being some hysteria around this performance, so I like that it looks at the fan reactions.

31057427-media_httpwwwconfused_ezaGF(source: Best Infographics)

I really like this infographic because although you don’t get any stats from it, it highlights well the different incarnations Madonna and Lady Gaga have gone through. It looks sleek, and is prettier than say a list of their looks.

I decided to make my own infographic about the Grammy Awards. Here it is:

The Grammys- Song of the YearThere’s an interactive version, too.

I tried to think of different ways of presenting things. Admittedly, I was tempted to do it all in bar charts (who doesn’t love a bar chart?), but I tried to make it look as ‘interesting’ as possible. Visually, I think it’s important to stick to a colour scheme, so I chose this one because it really represents the songs (it looks pretty).

I would consider doing an infographic for my coursework, mainly because I had fun making the above one. There’s a wealth of possibility in the forthcoming elections (and I’ve never been one to shy away from political journalism…), or perhaps the new Madonna album, which has a lot going on.