TLDR

Social interaction is not limited to a message thread anymore! Drop images, articles and videos all into one space and add messages and threads wherever you like. See all your friends virtually and collaboratively through cursors. Think Figma as a social media.

Inspiration

Emoji reactions. Disappearing snaps. 15 second Tik Toks. 140 word tweets. What do all of these have in common? They share many traits with the vast majority of social media today: they encourage short-form, short-lived, linear conversations just for getting a quick reaction and nothing more. These platforms make it near-impossible to have a long-form, meaningful conversation with anyone since interesting ideas are quickly buried away in a fury of reactions and stickers and memes.

Content-focused social media may be the answer. We designed a new social network centred around what you actually want to talk about. Numerous studies have shown that technology has resulted in our attention snaps becoming shorter than ever. Being 3 college students, we're constantly surrounded by distractions ourselves too. We're hungry for the next notification, the next distraction, the next thing to put our attention on. Using this background, we designed Convo with two main principles:

  1. Keep content in focus so conversations could be kept on track
  2. Keep conversation non-linear so good ideas could be contributed to any part of the conversation—at any time.

What it does

Find something interesting to talk about? Drop the link into convo, it'll generate a convo link for you. Share this link with your friends (either on convo or through another social platform). Now, the fun starts!

Convo allows you to see your content as the background and converse all over it. Write comments at different places. Reply to your friends comments. See what part of the content your friends are interacting with.

And when you're done, have a library of shared content you and your friends could scroll through and remember your conversations by.

How we built it

We built a web app using React on the frontend, Python Flask on the backend, web sockets to communicate between the two, and Firestore for data storage.

Challenges we ran into

Our main technical challenge was implementing the multiuser aspect of the project. Since the main goal of our app is to promote meaningful social interactions, the social (aka multiuser) aspect of the app was the most crucial element, but it was also the most technically challenging. We attempted to solve this problem by leveraging web sockets, and establishing a bidirectional communication channel between each client and the server. When a single client updates, the update is sent to the server, which then broadcasts the update to all remaining clients. This was a difficult problem to address both implementation-wise and architecture design-wise, but it was a great learning experience.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Working with new tools we hadn't worked with before. Real-time viewing other users' cursors and interactions. Building a working product. Having a blast!

What we learned

This hackathon, we tried something different. We tried to think and discuss the problem, the solution, and the product thoroughly before writing any code. I think it was a really refreshing experience to focus on the “why” of the product, why we want to build it, what sorts of problems it could solve, what impact it could have, instead of the “how” as we usually do, and focusing on the implementation details and debugging.

What's next for Convo

An important next feature that’s top of mind for us is building out libraries. The idea is that many current social interactions that we have, such as disappearing Snaps, instant messages that get buried, etc. are so fleeting. That’s why we want to build a library between groups of users, where all the discussions they have ever held via our app is stored in the library, and at any future point in time, they can easily revisit those discussions. We believe that this feature would enable more meaningful, lasting, and thoughtful interactions.

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