Be more eloquent
As a software engineer I mostly talk to computers, and as a result, my spoken vocabulary has suffered. But I want to speak more eloquently.
I often catch myself trying to think of a better word than the first one that comes to mind. Usually, somewhere in the recesses of my brain I know one, but I never remember it.
Sometimes I'll hear a word and think, "that’s a good word". I’ll try to remind myself, maybe even jotting it down somewhere. But I still never remember it.
So I'm developing an app that helps me - and people like me - build a stronger vocabulary. I’m nicknaming it wadl (pronounced waddle).
A better way to learn
I’ve tried those word-a-day calendars. Sure, they have words I don’t know, but the selection seems so arbitrary. After a week, I can't keep up - or I lose interest.
Traditional products like word-a-day calendars don’t work, simply because that’s not how we learn.
With wadl, you can add the words you actually want to learn to your list (nest). wadl provides the definition and keeps words in your nest until you learn them.
Along with storing your words, wadl integrates two natural ways to help you learn.
Use it in a sentence
We learn words through context.
Consider the classic use it in a sentence. This challenges you to demonstrate your understanding of a word. Seeing how a word is used in a sentence also helps you remember its meaning.
wadl allows you to create sentences for the words in your nest. You will also see sentences created by the flock.
What the flock?
We learn words from others.
wadl users form a community (flock). You can browse the flock to find new words and easily add them to your nest.
Duck Duck Goose
In addition to providing a more natural learning experience, wadl also gamifies the learning process. While using the app you will earn points and unlock achievements.
The flock can vote (quack) for sentence you create. The more quacks you receive, the more points you will earn, and the quicker you'll grow from just an egg to a flying duck.
You can also earn points by introducing new words to the flock. Any time another users adds your word to their nest, you’ll earn points. Earning points also improves your rank (pecking order), which eventually will unlock in-app privileges.
Why the duck theme?
The original concept was to create a Word A Day List. Being in the tech industry, this immediately became the acronym WADL. From there, ducks were a natural association.
The duck theme is applied throughout the app - store words in your nest, learn words from others in the flock, quack for the words you like, etc.
The goal is to release wadl as a free iOS app in early 2014. Ideally in time to coincide with users’ New Year’s resolutions.
Kickstarter funds will be used for initial design, marketing, and server costs. wadl will continue to generate revenue by offering a premium subscription for additional features. If wadl reaches its stretch goal of $18,000, the app will be completely free.
Thanks to MD and CootsDaddy for helping me get wadl off the ground.
Risks and challenges
As with any project, wadl runs the risk of delay. New Year's is an aggressive timeline - leaving only a few weeks to develop, test, and review wadl. While I can’t guarantee a launch date, I expect a release in early 2014.
To provide word definitions, wadl needs one of the online dictionaries. Unfortunately most have usage restrictions. The challenge will be to determine which provides the most features for wadl. Maybe the publicity from Kickstarter may encourage one of these online dictionaries (ahem - Merriam-Webster, Google) to partner with wadl.
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