Archive for December, 2010

What Do You Want from Yoza? The Yoza Community Responds

Launched 22 August 2010, Yoza Cellphone Stories is now more than 100 days old!

From 2009, when the pilot phase of the m4Lit project was kicked off, our m-novels have collectively been read more than 60,000 times and our readers have posted more than 40,000 comments.

Now you can imagine the growth in terms of diversity in preference and taste of our readers  who come to Yoza to be entertained, stimulated and more importantly, learn something new from an m-novel of their choice.

Seeking the guidance of our Yoza community, we asked them “What do you want from Yoza” and we awarded the THREE best suggestions with a prize of R500 worth of airtime each.

We received 600 entries and it was interesting to see just how many readers took this as an opportunity to suggest one or more genre of their liking.

Genre requests included: Historical fiction – “about famous South Africans that many youth don’t know about”, Classical (as in Edwardian, Victorian etc), Crime and Fantasy.

Along with our readers just suggesting a genre or two, they made sure to add their ideas on topics they would like to read about it, as seen in the word cloud above.

On improvements, there was definitely a consensus from the Yoza community that there should be more m-novels, more frequent releases of new m-novels, and m-novels written in indigenous South African languages. See below for the full list of improvements suggested by our readers…

  • More stories
  • Longer stories and chapters
  • Publish frequently
  • More chapters per story
  • A logo that better reflects the stories
  • More Sisterz stories
  • More Confessions stories
  • Like the educational aspect of the stories
  • “Better” plot resolution at the end
  • Some like daily chapter
  • Two chapters a day?
  • More Afrikaans
  • More indigenous languages
  • Image for each chapter

Some very well thought and interesting additions were proposed by our readers too. To these suggestions:

  • Print books of Yoza stories
  • Choose/write your own story endings
  • “Create chat rooms where users can chat about the situations in the particular story (not just comment).
  • Yoza Poems section (read, write, vote)
  • Advice column about issues
  • Quizzes
  • Chapter notification
  • Book reviews
  • Showcase user writing
  • Downloadable content

The THREE winning suggestions were:

Phumelela from Cape Town who wrote:

“ur stories are very interesting and nice, when u start reading them just can’t wait till the next day in order to read the next chapter. Maybe u guys should release 2 chapters a day, and just try and make ur stories longer, i’ve learned alot from the stories that i’ve read, every teenager can relate to ur stories, maybe u should do a story based on xenophobia, AIDS, or just the violence that happens around our communities.”

Astrid from Kempton Park who wrote:

“It would be cool if the reader could choose the way they want the story to go. That is, not strictly have chapters following one another, but options. So at the end of a passage, have ”latoya leans in for a kiss….” or ”latoya backs away,crying….” etc. as options, and so the viewer chooses the way they want the story to develop. Also, it would be cool if the commentary could take place at a set time in a multimix type of environment, because it is sort of difficult to comment in response to the comments of others. Thanks :)”

Kirthi from Durban who wrote:

“Today its obvious that mostly teenagers use mxit and read the stories. As an 18 year old girl who went through a lot during high school,i personally think that the stories should be bowt real ‘dramas’ as some people call it. And have logical happy endings which can guide other teenagers and help them through their difficult times. If i could give advice to younger girls out there i would,bt these stories can and would put a lot of girls in a better position.thank you”

In conclusion, most of the suggestions were well thought out and showed us just how interested and aware of Yoza readers are. Thank you to all those who participated!

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m4Lit gets Honourable Mention in the Stockholm Challenge

Stockholm ChallengeSince 1994, the Stockholm Challenge has rewarded social entrepreneurs in the field of ICT. This year, more than 290 projects from 90 countries joined the Challenge. We entered m4Lit into this years Challenge (read the entry here), and while we didn’t win, the project received an Honourable Mention. Well done to everyone on the team! This is a nice achievement, given that there were 49 finalists in the Education category.

One of the jurors described m4Lit as follows:

m4Lit is an interesting project, down to earth, applicable. Nice case of adjusting to the local context ideas that are operational elsewhere. It is a superb application of technology which leads to the empowerment of a very large audience. M4Lit has the potential to become sustainable. If entrepreneurship depends upon potential “spin-offs” or enhancements, there would appear to be excellent possibilities. Before iPad and Kindle, reading books on PDA and mobile phones did not catch on in most countries. Perhaps using an Interactive device to do solitary activity is counter-intuitive. However, the idea in the context of Africa seems reasonable and the initial success should be congratulated.