Friday, December 16, 2011

Siine Writer and literacy: help or hindrance?

We received an interesting comment this week about Siine Writer, one that made me think at length about the role our keyboard can play and how it fits into the ever evolving world of language.

The comment came via Twitter from Peter Toi (@p_toi), who works for web / mobile developer Organism.

He Tweeted, “Literacy 0: Canned Text 1 - Siine Writer Keyboard App Arrives on Android Tablet”, in response to the The Next Web news story about the launch of Siine Writer.

As someone who loves languages, it made me wonder if he had a point. After all, as we have said many times, Siine Writer isn’t intended for perfect, formal language. We don’t want to correct your grammar or spelling. If you write “how are you doing?” as “howudoin?” we think that’s great.

Also, Siine Writer is an attempt to get away from typing out words letter by letter, as it allows you to write words and even whole phrases with the touch of a button.

You can see, in other words, why you might think Siine Writer is a strike against literacy. But the key term – and in my opinion the wrong term – in what Peter said is “Canned Text”.

Certainly, Siine Writer does come pre-loaded with icons that express set phrases. But for us that is very much the starting point of the user’s experience with Siine Writer.

One of the key attractions of Siine Writer is that you can edit these icons to express your own words and phrases. That’s how you can make Siine Writer YOUR Siine Writer.

As we often say, we don’t know how you speak and we don’t want to tell you how to do it. Quite the opposite, in fact. We want you to tell us how you speak and how Siine Writer works for you.

In other words, Siine Writer puts a focus on language and all the wonderful ways in which different people use it. We’re obsessed with language and we hope that Siine Writer can help to spread this love of words.

Ultimately this is why we think Siine Writer, for all its use of buttons to express phrases, can help with literacy, rather than hinder.


  1. I forgot to say: what do you think about this? Please let us know.

  2. Hi Siine!

    I'm really impressed to see the impact a single tweet can have. Using the web to share ideas and influence change is a big part of our vision here at Organism (

    Your challenge was not ignored! I tracked down an Android handset to test out the app first-hand. And I'm glad I did. What I found was that, rather than requiring convoluted short-codes, Siine Writer brings text macros front and centre simply by tapping Siines.

    Since text macros allow users to trigger grammatically correct content with similar or less effort than using language short cuts I have to agree, Siine Writer can help with literacy, rather than hinder.

    Thanks for the challenge, Siine! You have yourselves an innovative product and have also made a convert out of me :)

    All the best going forward,

    Peter Toi
    Developer/Co-founder at Organism