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m-Novels for Africa: Engaging Readers through Mobile Phones


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m-Novels for Africa: Engaging Readers through Mobile Phones

  1. 1. m-Novels for Africa:Engaging Readers through Mobile PhonesSteve Vosloo, Project LeaderPresented at International Symposium : Mobile Phone and Creation, Paris14 June 2012
  2. 2.
  3. 3. What our users commented“Its great ... for me it really hard topick up a book to start readin but i donmind readin on my phone”dotty1
  4. 4. Background
  5. 5. The Yoza Project• Yoza enables reading, writing and engagement via mobile phones• South African project launched August 2009, initially funded by the Shuttleworth Foundation• Through Yoza, short stories, poems and classic literature are published on mobile phones (MXit and on a mobisite -- a website for mobiles)• Highly interactive: users can comment, vote, enter writing competitions and review stories
  6. 6. 51%South African households that own no leisure books (TNS Research Surveys, 2006)
  7. 7. 7%Public schools in South Africa that have functional libraries of any kind (Equal Education, 2009)
  8. 8. Mobile revolution
  9. 9. Early story on MXit (2009)
  10. 10. Yoza today
  11. 11. Yoza today
  12. 12. “If friars plan wrks, then romeo wil bable 2 cum nd take juliet wit hm 2 livhapily 2geda at mantua bt if it fails,sumbdys gna b dead. Lol!”Elsie
  13. 13. “I loved the book, wish it didnt have anending. Shakespear please bringanother one like this one. IT WASMWAAAH!!”Blessed1
  14. 14. Yoza Cellphone Stories: Basics• A growing library of titles: 30 m-novels, 18 poems, 5 Shakespeare plays• Genres include teen issues, romance, soccer, adventure, “classics”, poetry• Some stories are serialised (a chapter a day) and every chapter of every story has a comment prompt or vote prompt• Chapters around 400 words (some stories 200 words)• Total length: 4000 to 10000 words• Stories in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa• Stories are free but costs for mobile data (about 7c per chapter)• All stories are either openly licenced (CC) or in the public domain• On MXit all comments are moderated before going live• Available in South Africa and Kenya on Mxit
  15. 15. What users thought of Yoza stories
  16. 16. What our Facebook friends have to say ...
  17. 17. Yoza stats (19 months)• Complete reads: >475,000• No. of comments: >47,000• No. of unique visitors: >180,000• No. of MXit subscribers to Yoza: >69,000• No. of votes: >44,000(Period: August 2010 to May 2012)
  18. 18. More comments than War and Peace
  19. 19. “T z a vry !ntstng stry,really attrtz daa attns f da reader.k!p t up”L!hle
  20. 20. “I realy lv de story, it ws touchy evnpainful again i hv learnd a lot 4rm it.Am gona pass it 2 my frnd nd family 2read 4 dem self”(Anon)
  21. 21. User demographics• Mostly 18-25 years old, then 13-17• Slightly more female• Mostly Black• Mostly in urban centres, but also spread throughout country• Estimate LSM 3-7
  22. 22. “Aha” moment:Mobile phones are aviable distributionplatform for longer formcontent and for enablinguser participation
  23. 23. “A gud st0ri alth0ugh vewi sh0rt idlyk 2 c m0re 0n mxit bk0z itenc0uragez readin!”Lesleigh(F)
  24. 24. Lessons
  25. 25. Lesson 1: Research content and user interface with teens
  26. 26. Lesson 1: Research content and user interface with teens
  27. 27. Lesson 2: Mobile is a content monster“Waiting for the next chapters killsme!”Suzi*
  28. 28. Solution: have lots of content ready to publish
  29. 29. Lesson 3: Mobile is “always on” Solution: moderate constantly
  30. 30. “I alwayz (H)ur stories guyz and ialwayz learn smthing new”Sisipho
  31. 31. Lesson 4: Users know what they want• Content that entertains, inspires and educates• Content about issues (pregnancy, drugs, careers, money), romance and adventure• Real life stories• See Solution: ask, listen and respond
  32. 32. Lesson 5: Always prompt (and be provocative)
  33. 33. Lesson 6: Adapt based on immediate feedbackThe Awesomes chapters rewritten (pre-publication) based on commentsreceived in earlier chaptersStreetskillz stories changed (post-publication) from third to first personnarrative to pick up the pace, make interaction more direct Solution: watch and respond
  34. 34. Lesson 7: Leverage existing networks and meetreaders where they are MXit Mobisite Facebook
  35. 35. Lesson 8: There will be drop-off …
  36. 36. “Ag!BORING. . .:-z”Thandi
  37. 37. Lesson 10: … But fans are loyal
  38. 38. Final thoughts
  39. 39. Mobile phone is the e-reader of AfricaParticipatory culture happens throughmobile phones: consumption, creation,engagementtxtspk iz hr 2 stayemerging mobile literacies
  40. 40. “The stories r interesting nd fun 2read, they kip ma englsh gng”Hlengiwe gulube
  41. 41. How to access Yoza and contact detailsBrowser: www.yoza.mobiMXit: Add a contact (MXit Services) called yozaFacebook: Vosloo Louise 44