Stampsy: A New Form of Media Sharing

Believe it or not, we are all prolific content creators. Well most of us are, anyway. It’s likely that if you are reading this, you’ve posted images to Flickr or Instagram, uploaded videos with YouTube or Vimeo, or shared your pearls of wisdom on Twitter or Facebook, quite apart from any blog posts you might have written.

These traditional types of shareable content are cornered markets, though, and as a result, developers and startups are looking for new ways to engage our creative side. Flipboard, for example, has recently launched a network of curated-content digital magazines, and Vine‘s six-second videos are already popular with Twitter users. Meanwhile, audio sharing apps like Dubbler are seen as the rising stars of content-based social networking.

Stampsy is hoping that the next medium to go viral is a digital, magazine-book hybrid, filled with text and images. The description may sound unlikely, but Stampsy already has a solid user base, and the opportunity to share Stampsy-made publications online is proving popular. But is this new form of media just a gimmick, or the next major revolution in social creativity?

Like this article? Stay up to date with the latest changes by subscribing to our RSS feed or by following us either on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or App.net.

Building a Publication

Whilst it is Stampsy‘s network of published content that greets you when the app is started, the design suite is the obvious first port of call.

Stampsy-built virtual booklets are up to 10 pages long, and can include various types of text, images, backgrounds and shapes. It’s not a large range of content to choose from — a significant downgrade from iBooks Author, for instance — but for writers and photographers, these are all of the elements required.

You add content to the pages of your Stampsy publication by dragging and dropping widgets across from the left-hand menu. Excluding the background, the editable area of content covers the central two-thirds of the iPad’s overall screen size, and it includes a grid for the sake of accurate element alignment.

The drag-and-drop style of Stampsy makes creation easy

The drag-and-drop style of Stampsy makes creation easy

Adding Content

Text is the theme for the first group of widgets. Headline, Subtitle, Lead (i.e. the big letter at the start of an article), Insertion and Text are your options, and each can be placed and resized however you see fit. Text can be whatever colour you like, although Stampsy helpfully provides some pre-made colour swatches. Equally, there is a tastefully stylish, if not massive, selection of fonts available. One strange omission in Stampsy‘s text toolkit is the inability to alter text size, which is irritating for those of us looking for true artistic freedom.

There's a nice selection of fonts in Stampsy – but no font sizes

There’s a nice selection of fonts in Stampsy – but no font sizes

Images are the other main form of unique content you can use in your Stampsy creations. You essentially have two options here. Images can be displayed as content, meaning they are resizable, but restricted to the central content area. Alternatively, images can be used as a page background, opening up the opportunity for full-screen photos, with captions placed, magazine-style, on top.

Finally, it is also worth mentioning the shapes which can be added to Stampsy-built creations. Squares and circles — sorry, triangle fans — can be placed, resized and coloured in any way you like. Shapes tend to be most useful as text backgrounds, although, obviously, the option is there to use them in any creative way you see fit.

Squares and circles only, I'm afraid!

Squares and circles only, I’m afraid!

As an overall feeling, though, I really wish there were a few more content options available in Stampsy. I realize that video, for example, would only slow down the app (and fill up your iPad) but the addition of text links and a few more shapes — maybe even a slideshow — would elevate Stampsy publications to the next level.

The Network

The Stampsy network, known within the app as the Kiosk, can be thought of as your Stampsy timeline – a side-scrolling shelf of creations from publishers you follow.

Stampsy's network is relatively small, but is growing

Stampsy’s network is relatively small, but is growing

Stampsy gets you started by pre-populating your Kiosk with works from the most prolific and popular Stampsy authors, but you can also follow other publishers whose creations you find engaging. Also offered is the opportunity to follow your Stampsy-using Facebook friends.

The quality on display is impressive, and as the Kiosk automatically displays whenever you open Stampsy, you can’t help but be drawn in by the maelstrom of pretty typography and stunning imagery. I certainly found myself being sidetracked into browsing.

Many of the browsable publications on Stampsy are gorgeous.

Many of the browsable publications on Stampsy are gorgeous.

Many early Stampsy adopters seem to be preferring to create photo essays or digital photo albums, mirroring the kind of text-and-pictures articles to be found in National Geographic or Time. This is probably what Stampsy is best suited to, although you could create a text-only work should you wish.

Conclusion

Whether or not Stampsy takes off as a network, it is certainly a fine app. The drag-and-drop editor is smooth, and the restrictions on content – 10 pages of text, images and shapes – seem to strike a reasonable balance between creative freedom and compactness of file size.

The limited content options, however, do have an effect on the creativity possible with Stampsy, and I wonder how many folks, other than keen photographers or journalists, will find ongoing content to fill their Stampsy-made creations. Additionally, Stampsy‘s network is still in its infancy, and as such, it is not as engaging as some of the more established networks.

Primarily, though, it must be said that Stampsy is enjoyable to use, and the option to share your creations online with non-iPad-owning friends gives the app on-going value, regardless of whether its in-built network gains lasting popularity.

Therefore, I can only recommend that if you’re feeling creative, you should try using Stampsy as your blank canvas.


Summary

A great, unique way of sharing content. Only a few steps (and a bit of time) away from greatness.

9