The idea is great
Although it was the first Ticckle Tuesday, with only a handful of entries, so far, I’ve had good feedback; especially on the fact that hearing a story in the author’s own voice is something special. The rigour of having to record only 30 seconds – inspired by Ticckle’s own technical restrictions – is also a critical part of this Flash Fiction Compo that makes it unique and worth continuing. Well, I think so anyway, but there will need to be a few changes for the next one…
Tech issues are a problem
Ticckle itself is in “beta”, so can be forgiven a few quirks. However, the biggest problem encountered was audio playback failing for some of my Ticckle videos; the ones giving examples and instructions. These played fine on my phone (in App and Safari/Chrome browser) and fine on an iMac, but when accessed via FaceBook link on PCs participants reported low/no sound. 🙁
Ticckle’s web site having no Search function doesn’t help, with the only filtering being an imposed popularity/recency floating of Ticckles to the top; only saved by how few there are currently. A shame, as it reduces ‘discovery’ of story entries. The only way round this I can see is to ‘suggest’ compo submitters ‘ticckle’ (that is their term for Like/thumbs up/voting for videos) the main theme announcement in App or on the web site, as well as promoting the direct link by FB/Twitter/blog.
Lack of audio presents accessibility issues as well. There is no means of subtitling ticckles 🙁 and I’ve noticed that FB style comments, while allowed, don’t seem to be getting counted properly. I left some explanatory text below a Ticckle video, leading to this blog and the FB group, but the no. of comments reported didn’t change from zero. Only clicking to comment revealed they were there at all.
Finally, Ticckle’s progress bar, which counts down the 30s, seems a bit laggy. As a matter of habit, I allow half a second after beig told “Go!” In recordings to make sure it has really started; more than this gets
uncomfortable for the listener. At two seconds most people will be assuming there’s something wrong, from my experience working in Radio, even with our most recent experience of “buffering” on the Internet. However, the bigger problem is the cut off at the end, which always seems harsh, and a little early (?) to me. So, I’m consciously finishing 1-2 seconds early now, to make sure Ticckle gets a clean fini…
Seriously, with a small curtesy delay in starting, and a necessary early finish, we really only have 28s to record our stories. So, I’d say don’t include the title in your recording!
Some authors need to submit text
Mostly, this is technically driven – audio drop outs, participants not being Ticckle-literate, etc – but accessibility us a problem generally. So, possibly stupidly, I’m offering to record submissions for those who cannot submit via Ticckle themselves. This could get out of hand, so I’ll need to keep reviewing the workload, but has several advantages:
1) it keeps 30s flash fiction open to as many writers as possible
2) it enables participation by those who don’t like (to hear) their own voice
3) it levels the playing field for Ticckle user votes, which were always intended to be part of the review process
4) it gives me a vocal challenge to interpret the texts
5) it renders the competition immune/separate from Ticckle itself, in case the service dies.