Simple app idea: a story in status updates

While waiting to hear back from Astrohaus support about when my Freewrite is going to ship, I happened across this blog post:

A Twelve Step Program for Writing More and Interneting Less

It’s the usual advice, but this comment caught my eye:

“It’s a sprint, not a marathon. Work in bursts of energy.” — that’s gold. but the image used for the article evoked an idea… we’re all constantly posting on social media… maybe they should make “a writer’s social media site” except that you don’t post things for others to see – every post is just you continuing your writing… but since it’s in post form, it feels less intimidating and removes angst? and of course, there’s something on the site that lets you see the whole thing if you want….

I replied:

Great idea. I’ve been wanting to write a web app to learn a new framework. Mind if I use this idea?

They said yes!

please do! let me know when you finish! would love to use it!

And here’s where I’ll lay out my vision!

Private Twitter for writing, basically

That’s literally all it is. I’m not trying to get bought out here. It’s a really simple thing to implement.

Step 1: Write a Twitter clone following the Rails tutorial

Stuff

The difference is that their timeline will be private until they post it.

I’m thinking something similar to Novlr or Scrivener, but with a bunch of one-off notes instead of scenes and chapters. Little snippets that can later be combined and built upon.

Step 2: Allow users to edit and rearrange posts

This differs from Twitter immensely. I’ll borrow some UI stuff from Storify. I mean what I’m writing is essentially Storify with the option to export.

(Wait… Storify already lets you export… although only as HTML, XML, or JSON. Welp, mine is different enough.)

I want the creative juices to flow, so users will be able to add new snippets in between existing ones. (Yeah, Storify lets you do that but Twitter threads don’t.)

I’ll also give them the option to import actual Tweets from their own Twitter timeline, if they have existing threads they want to compile. (This is literally exactly what Storify does.)

Step 3: Allow users to compile and export story in various formats

Here’s where I’m innovating! Storify doesn’t let you export your content as plain text. Makes sense, since you can embed literally anything. Storify is good for telling other people’s stories. This is going to be for writing your own stories.

It shouldn’t be hard to support plain text/markdown, .rtf, Google Docs, WordPress exports. Scrivener, Novlr, etc. might be tougher, but it’ll be worth learning.

What users are exporting will probably be far from the finished product, but it’s way better than hunting down tweets to embed in a blog post.

Nobody actually writes this way, do they?

Actually they do.

This is Gerald Weinberg’s advice for writing:

advice

This is also exactly how I write. It’s probably my ADHD in part, but as long as I’ve been writing papers on the computer I’ve jumped around like this.

For example let me show you the order in which I wrote this specific blog post.

This post’s revision history

Here are 16 revision snapshots:

rev1
1. Paste comment that gave me the idea
rev2
2. Paste my response to idea comment
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Neat, huh? Bet you didn’t even know WordPress had version control.

(Programmers call the red and green highlighted stuff “diffs,” btw.)

What does any of that have to do with Twitter?

Well like the comment I mentioned at the beginning said, we love writing in social media snippets. Our story segments are getting shorter and shorter.

On top of that, Twitter has become a hugely popular medium for telling stories. Personally, I do a lot of thinking out loud in Twitter threads.

My idea is to encourage the stream-of-consciousness approach that Twitter storytelling uses, but allow writers to go back and edit their snippets at a later time.

Maybe give users a certain amount of control over the strictness of the writing vs. editing process. For example, when you start a writing mode session it’ll require a certain word count before you can switch into editing mode.

I can see this being a useful tool and platform for writers of all backgrounds and styles.

Google Interview Question: Cheating husbands

This screenshot of a Google interview question was posted on /r/programmerhumor:

4Lr87AU

The question reads as follows:

Every man in a village of 100 married couples has cheated on his wife. Every wife in the village instantly knows when a man other than her husband has cheated, but does not know when her own husband has. The village has a law that does not allow for adultery. Any wife who can prove that her husband is unfaithful must kill him that very day. The women of the village would never disobey this law. One day, the
queen of the village visits and announces that at least one husband has been unfaithful. What happens?

This angered me.

Continue reading Google Interview Question: Cheating husbands