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.