diddit — activities for all
It was a beautiful summer’s eve.
Kids were running through the streets, playing in the grass, enjoying life and exploring. The excitement in the air in the modest city of Waterloo was infectious. But, as pleasant as this sounds, this was a rare sight to see. Made rarer by the fact that these kids were actually 20 year olds. And it was 1AM in the morning. They were all playing Pokémon GO.
In August 2016, I was preparing for my 4-month internship at Kik Interactive Inc. Kik, who is known for their messaging app, led North America in the use of messaging chatbots at the time. I set out to build a chatbot that encouraged people to be as active and engaged in the real world as Pokémon GO allowed.
Thus began Kik Challenge.
In November 2016, Nick Haughton, myself, and another friend built a challenge-based bot for Facebook Messenger, as Kik was not willing to support Kik Challenge. This simple chatbot produced the world’s first bot-challenge video.
Thus became LetsGoViral.
In December 2017, VIVID was born. A maturation of the LetsGoViral bot, developed to have as much functionality as we could handle on a limited platform.
There were graphics, promo videos, users, Node.js Code, emails to Facebook HQ, demos for celebrities, a Brand Ambassador program, marketing plans, funding applications, social accounts, long lists of bugs — the whole 9 yards.
In March 2017, I posted ‘Why I Made A Social Network For Myself” (https://medium.com/@jordangrant_34404/why-i-made-a-social-network-for-myself-3ee7fb2410bb) a heartfelt introspection into why I believed in VIVID.
We were itching for more functionality. Itching for more ways to play with friends. Better experiences for consuming content. More relevance. More location awareness.
I learned React Native, and we built a React Native mobile app. We went down to two men. We abandoned the VIVID moniker. I learned the ins and outs of React Native by pushing version after version.
With diddit, we set aside our grand ambitions of what the platform could achieve — viral content, location-awareness, live video — and focused on the problem we were trying to solve.
Helping people to do the things they want to do.
With their friends. By themselves. Do what interests you, we’ll help make it happen. That must come before discovering things to do, telling others what to do, etc. Thus became the centre of the app. Playlists you can actually play.
The rest of the app was to be governed by one principle: everything you see, you can do. Social media apps want you to consume. To scroll. To digest content, but please, don’t act on it. With diddit, there’s no pointless selfies, no memes or Twitter screenshots, no vacation photos of places you’ll never travel to. Every post on diddit is an opportunity to engage.
The law of the land? Everything you see, you can do.
First goal — see if diddit works within a small community. Take their feedback and refine the product until the numbers prove the app works.
Update Feb 11, 2018:
After speaking to Andre Charoo a few weeks ago, he explained to me the power of manufacturing magic experiences. Whether it be the one tap that summons your Uber or the ease and beauty of other apps, it was important to strive for the differentiator, the wow factor.
While still carrying the same enthusiasm towards making playlists great, I also started working on the “magic feature” — location awareness. Such that wherever you go, the app suggest challenges for you. To begin, I created playlists based on the Google Places API. The next step would be to order the lists of playlists by the user’s location. Now that I have the shell of the app, including playlists, video upload, and search, I can start integrating location.
Update December 29th, 2018:
I really left this Medium article to die, eh? I decided that challenges were something that really inspired me, but there’s definitely a more nuanced solution/approach to connecting people in real life, and helping them do the thing they enjoy. Thus, diddit was shuttered in favour of PopTag, which will continue on this ambitious journey. The fact that I’ve jumped from major progress to instant death in this article is quite reminiscent of how I work. I’m so driven by and drawn to things and ideas that inspire me, which sometimes causes me to shift gears very quickly.
In my heart, I know I haven’t abandoned my end goal — so I look forward to gaining more knowledge, writing more code, speaking to more people, and enjoying the journey.