The Department of Sharing

The Department of Sharing is an app which creates cc licensed stories which are designed to be shared. They belong to anyone who might be interested in reading them.

Department of Sharing is an app which creates digital stories on cellphones. It runs in the Processing mobile IDE, APDE, which allows on-phone editing and vastly simplifies the process of exporting from .pde to .apk files  (a major task  for beginners). The first sharable story was completed using artwork and a game story fromKhazatown Blues, a Mario mod designed in 2014 by five Grade 12 students.

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Khazatown Blues was based on a Mario mod created by Talita Maliti, Ndilisa May, Vuyani Vorslag, Ludwe Zigwebile and Lwazi Fanana.

When published on Android phones, Department of Sharing stories are playable with written stories and simple interactive visuals. Since Android phones are popular but not everyone has one, it is really important to be able to give stories to people who are using simple feature phones rather than smartphones (running Android, Windows or iOS).  For this reason, stories created by the Department of Sharing can be exported in more basic formats – e.g. images or gif animations, such as the one below.

Created by the Department of Sharing
Created by the Department of Sharing. Visuals and story from Khazatown Blues by Talita Maliti, Ndilisa May, Vuyani Vorslag, Ludwe Zigwebile and Lwazi Fanana

The idea here is simple – there are plenty of cloud-based mobile reading libraries, including Yoza, Fundza, Worldreader, and the African Storybook Project. Yet it is surprisingly difficult for people to create their own mobile stories and share them with those around them without needing to use their airtime to access a website or join a cloud-based service such as Facebook or Binu.

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Here’s Lungile Madela at work configuring our Convergence Lab for the next series of story-making workshops with The Department of Sharing. The Convergence Lab includes a smart TV, a charging trolley and a pair of large cupboards  stocked with smartphones and tablets.

There is still a long journey ahead on the road to mobile coding, but we are very grateful indeed to UCT Strategic Equipment Fund and the Shuttleworth Foundation – without their support these big steps towards a mobile coding curriculum wouldn’t have been possible.

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