The plain social network ‘status update’ has been superseded by the rush to share photos. Quicker, easier and less likely to get lost in translation, the selfie and its subsidiaries (otheries) are the digital social currency du jour. But Israeli startup Ku wants to make words cool again, with a social network that’s focused on sharing a more creative kind of status update.
Ku borrows its name from the ending of Haiku — the intentionally brief Japanese poetic form that usually follows a particular syllabic structure, of 5-7-5. Despite being so short, Haikus are of course misleadingly hard. Extreme brevity looks deceptively simple, but is the absolute opposite.
Still, the hardest thing of all when it comes to creative writing is getting over the hump and putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. Ku is an iOS app that wants to lower that barrier to writing a status update — and indeed lower the barrier of entry to anyone penning a spot of (free or not) verse.
It’s not necessarily aiming to encourage finely crafted haikus to spill forth from its users’ fingers. But rather to help them turn what could be a mundane social status update, into something a bit more thoughtful, a bit less throwaway.
Much like Instagram hand-holds its users through beautifying their photos — via a pleasing square crop, post-processing filters and the like — the Ku app uses question prompts to inspire its users to write something. These take the form of mundane questions like ‘how was your lunch?’ or ‘what did you do last night?’ — the more mundane the better really, since they give users an easy jumping off point to clamber over the initial hurdle of writers’ block and get their thoughts flowing.
Once the user has been encouraged to pen their quasi-haiku (quasi because there are no rigid requirements to what you write, beyond it having to fit in three lines and fit on the Ku card, so no need to write a haiku unless you specifically choose to… ), they are given options to augment their composition further by adding a doodle of their own, or (indeed) a photograph.
Posts can also then be hashtagged quickly via some in-app shortcuts which help people browsing within the network find content based on themes like quirky, nerdy — or indeed haiku, if you do want to stick with the traditional form. And can then be shared to the Ku network where others can like and comment on what you’ve written, or share it out to mainstream social networks to garner a bigger audience.
Ku is a nicely designed app but it’s obviously not about to overthrow the dominance of the photo as the main social sharing currency. Writing anything that at least makes vague sense takes more effort than snapping a photo. But it does offer a cute reworking of text-based status updates that might help the written word claw back a little attention in these selfie obsessed times.