The past couple weeks I kept seeing simple cartoons featuring the comic book version of my friends popping up on my Facebook newsfeed. As these cartoons became more and more prevalent I started to get a little annoyed. In my hasty judgment I declared them as stupid. But I was reacting to these cartoons in the exact same way a person reacts to a joke that he does not get but everyone else is in on. My judgment came pretty much out of ignorance, I really had no idea how these cartoons were made and I had no idea why they were so popular. Last night after I saw a whole new slew of these comics I decided to educate myself on the movement instead of hating on it.
As I do many times when I want help, I reached out on Twitter. I asked that someone please fill me in on these comic scenes taking over Facebook. My answer came quickly as a few of my followers quickly informed me of the hottest new app: Bitstrips.
I immediately downloaded the app and started exploring. Still a little jaded at first, my initial thought playing around with Bitstrips was the exact same as what I had when I viewed everyone else’s comics…stupid. I think this was mostly because I hated the way the cartoon version of myself looked. I didn’t think it looked a thing like me. But I felt this way prior to when I discovered that there are several options you can utilize to make your cartoon avatar look a little more like your actual image. So after I messed around with my hair length, hair style, skin tone, and wardrobe I became a little more satisfied with my appearance. I then went ahead and created a “status cartoon” of me in the office. Even though pretty underwhelmed with the rather boring scene of me “seizing the day” I tried to upload it to Facebook. It didn’t work. Bitstrips was not off to a good start in Brent’s World.
However, I didn’t want to stick a fork in the app right away. Instead of deciding to produce content immediately I took a step back and decided to just investigate the various features of Bitstrip. My disdain for the service turned to joy when I looked at the avatars of all my friends who were already on the service. I scrolled down with a grin a mile wide as I looked at their depictions of themselves. Many of them were spot on! Some intentionally embellished certain physical traits that they hold and I couldn’t help but laugh. While I disliked what I produced for myself, I loved what others were able to come up with.
Then, instead of creating just a lame cartoon with myself in it I went to the option where I could create one with one of my Facebook friends in it. One thing you have to know: You can’t create your own comic. Bitstrips forces you to choose from one of their premade designs. With that said, they do offer some funny and cute options and you can change the captions. I had probably a too good of time creating some comics featuring my friends and I.
After getting a feel for the service and starting to have some fun, I went back to my avatar and continued to fine tune my appearance. Although I still am a little frustrated with how I look, I think I am starting to get to the perfected Bitstrip image of myself.
So while I do like some features of Bitstrips it has by no means won me over. I think it is lame that you can’t have more control over the content you create. Yes, the service does come up with some funny ideas but we all know we could do much better with placement control. We all have our own sense of humor and inside jokes that we could incorporate that would make for very funny comics. Also, you can only include one friend in each comic. Time to expand a little bit, we all know that the more the merrier.
The social engagement element of Bitstrips is lacking too. Through the actual application you can’t like or comment on comics. This is where the fun of social media is at! If we can’t make our own jokes within the actual comics, at least let us make them underneath it in a comment section. The potential for interaction with this service is high but right now Bitstrips has all options turned completely off.
Finally, it bugs me that I am having trouble posting to Facebook. Then again, I should maybe retract my words and take it as a blessing because I don’t think Bitstrips is a good thing for Facebook. I think the comics look out of place and tacky on a timeline or on a newsfeed. I think these comics belong housed inside their own application where people who appreciate this type of social expression can go and view several at a time while commenting and liking away. Of course this comes from a guy who believes that for the most part social media content should be as unique as possible and to accomplish this the wholesale sharing of pictures/statuses/video/etc across every single social network should be avoided with the exception for truly outstanding content.
I say go ahead and download Bitstrips. Give it a shot and see if it is something that you like. Even if you still hate it, at the very least it will educate you on one of the newest and hottest apps out there right now. What are you waiting for?! Go make the perfect cartoon version of yourself. Don’t Blink.
The Bitstrips app is a much simplified version of the original website (www.Bitstrips.com) that has been around for about 5 years. The original website allows for complete, total, unbelievably cool creation and customization. NOTHING is dictated. Everything and anything can and has been created on it, including multi-panel cartoons.
The folks who created Bitstrips found that many people didn’t want to spend the time to be so creative and involved. The Bitstrips app was made to simplify (but limit) the work of cartoon creation.
For now, the original website is out of service because the creators are focused on fixing the app. The viral spread of the app totally overloaded the systems. There are tech people working 24/7 to upscale and work out the bugs in the app. As soon as that’s done, the original website (with many improvements) will be up and running again. Then, people with the time and interest to get totally creative with their cartooning will have a phenomenal creativity tool at their disposal.
But it all takes time. The Bitstrips team is doing everything they can as quickly as possible.
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