— April 9, 2020
My submission project for a Coronavirus Hackathon (open division)
Open Division: Coronavirus Hack
Hey! This is the author, Cole Gawin. This case study was written a while ago as a submission to a local hackathon project. At the time, I was actively developing and maintaining the Aspect project. However, it is no longer available—as such, many of the links may be broken or not work. This post solely exists for a glimpse into a solution I had once proposed to solve the issues with today's social media, and perhaps as a time capsule for my future self. Please enjoy.
My name is Cole Gawin, and I am a freshman at Deerfield High School. Aspect is a project I have been working on since March, and I think it will have a great impact on our society for the better, both during and after the current pandemic.
My project is a social network called Aspect. It's mobile app counterpart is called Aspect Hub. It's purpose is to solve the problems of today's social networks. Aspect will help everyone better maintain a social connection from a distance.
Before we begin, I would like to invite you to try out the final result of my work over the past few months. Please note that it is currently in beta, so there may be some issues or bugs.
If you are interesting in installing the app (thank you!) there are ways to do so, depending on your device.
COVID-19 has had a large impact on how we socialize with one another. Right now, we are restricted to limited social interaction, which has promoted a drastically increased reliance on digital communication and connection through social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.
This dependence on social media, however, does have definite side effects, which are only heightened by this pandemic. The most infamous of these shortcomings is that social media networks are addictive and overwhelming. Facebook especially often receives criticism due to the harmful psychological effects it has on its users. Social media networks are also typically public by default. This means that all of your posts are visible to the entire world, regardless of your relationship to each viewer. Lastly, your entire digital footprint is tracked, so every post and every interaction you make is known by these social networks.
An ideal digital communication system would abide by these 4 guidelines:
The solution I propose is Aspect, an app I have created that I believe solves the problems of today's social networks. Aspect will allow us to better maintain a social connection from a distance.
Aspect was designed to improve your ability to share content within your family and your community. It was designed to spark joy, rather than create conflict or stress.
What sets Aspect apart is that it was made with families and communities in mind. Instead of posting to your own public page, you select who gets to see your posts
Aspect also lets you add posts to memories called "capsules" that let you organize important moments. Capsules give you the ability to travel in time to milestones and memories that you never want to forget. Imagine being able to relive your best memories from all the way back in middle school, to revisit the best sunsets from your favorite spring vacation, to remember that inspirational conversation you had with your team leader on your Mitzvah project.
On Aspect, you can
On Facebook, posts are made to a public wall. All of your connections on Facebook able by default able to view these posts. However, on Aspect, you make a post to a specific group, which makes Aspect "community-centric". Furthermore, Aspect isn't overwhelming to its users. No notifications are sent, and the only posts you see are curated by you and your community. One core feature of Aspect is that it allows you to add posts in a group to a capsule, which represent important memories and moments in your life. These are just some of the "aspects" that set Aspect apart from the existing digital connection platforms.
I designed the Aspect Hub app to be as intuitive and user friendly as possible. I took inspiration from well-known apps like Twitter and Facebook, but also design guidelines like Google's Material Design. Below are some of the earliest designs/mockups of the Aspect Hub app.
Aspect is more than a social media app, it truly is a hub for the posts from you and your community. When you open the app, you are presented with the bulletin page that asks the question, "What's New?" You can see all the posts recently added, and create new ones. On the capsules tab is a list of all your capsules, which you can open to see all the posts added to it. You can click on each post to get a more detailed view, allowing you to save a post to a capsule or remove it.
There are many use cases for this network. Here are a few:
Aspect Hub is open-source, which means anyone can share code, bugs/issues, and ideas. All code can be viewed on GitHub.
I hope to have more local and national families and communities using Aspect in their day-to-day lives. On a more technical "aspect", I would like to publish the Aspect Hub iOS and Android apps to their respective app stores. Right now, I do not have adequate funding to do so, but this is one of the first things any prize money that I earn would go towards! I also aim to gain more help from the open-source community to continue the growth of Aspect Hub into the future.
Don’t miss out on the latest content! Join over 3k+ devs in subscribing to Instructive.dev.
Join the mailing list