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review

Streetwriters: Micro-blogging for authors and poets.

This week I’ve been spending time evaluating Streetwriters, a new writing app for Android devices. I spotted a tweet from the developers under the #writerscommunity hashtag on Tweetdeck and decided to give it a try.

At first blush it wasn’t great. Lots of functionality just didn’t work, and being one of the first users to take it for a spin meant I didn’t have many other writers to interact with. I counted less than a dozen on the apps ‘Discovery’ feed.

But, I stuck it out. Primarily because the developers promised an update within days that would sort all the bugs out, and secondly I was intrigued by what kind of unique content other users might eventually generate. I’m a veteran of Tumblr, and Streetwriters as a platform looks rather similar, but there are reasons I’m not on Tumblr any more. It’s infested with gif spam for starters, and secondly it’s overrun by the thought police (official and unofficial). I wanted to see what a platform in the hands of genuine content creators could do.

Luckily, the Streetwriters developers were as good as their word and an update came through within two days of me downloading the first version. Now the app has real potential.

To begin at the beginning, you have your own Streetwriters profile page with a short, customisable header. The main nav bar at the bottom allows you to navigate to different pages.  There is a home screen, which shows you all the posts from the people you follow, plus your own posts in chronological order. The discovery page shows you posts from everyone, regardless of whether you follow them or not. Finally, your notifications page shows you all the activity that’s taken place on your page, who’s decided to follow you, who’s liked or commented on your content and who’s re-blogged you.

The add button allows you to select a variety of different post formats, including story, poem, quote or article. Each format can be customised with your own choice of font, background image, colours and gradients. All your content can be tagged with relevant hashtags, making it searchable and copyright can be claimed on your own prose, non-fiction and poetry.

Once your content is up, other Streetwriters can locate it on their Home or Discovery screens. There they have the chance to leave you feedback, like your posts or re-blog you.

You can check out how popular you are via your Notifications or Profile screens. The app will buzz you if your device is idle when there’s any activity on your content.

The good news is, even though the community is currently small, the content is all unique and all relevant to the craft of writing. And even with a low number of users right now, the level of engagement is high. If you’re used to shouting in to the void on Wattpad, Streetwriters might come as a pleasant surprise.

The app uses established navigation conventions, such as pull down to refresh, so the learning curve is fairly shallow, and it’s not fussy. The developers have obviously decided that the user generated content matters more than the app, because the design is clean and graphic content is only there to enhance the words. The only drawback is that it’s currently only avilable for Android devices, which may limit uptake for a while. However, the developers tell me an AppleOS, and a browser based version will be available later in 2019.

But, if you’re looking for an alternative to Tumblr and other micro-blogging sites, something that’s specifically geared to writers and the written word, give Streetwriters a try. It’s available to download from your device’s app store.