One night, not too long ago, a writing instructor asked his class to put away the laptops and write by hand a few descriptive verses that would be shared around as part of an exercise. Several of us had to bum writing supplies off our colleagues. One younger woman simply gathered up her belongings and walked out.
The thoughts came easily, not so the words. Sure, I’d knocked back a few glasses of wine beforehand with a friend at a nearby bar, but that certainly wasn’t the reason for the sloppy sentences I sheepishly shuffled off to the fellow on my left.
I used to have such beautiful penmanship. At least that’s what everyone said. I mastered block letters then Palmer Method cursive at an early age. While other kids gripped fat green and red pencils, yours truly was already using a thin Ticonderoga pencil #2.
At the encouragement of my maternal grandparents, I practiced incorporating graceful lines and extended loops into my handwriting. Good penmanship was a sign of a well-educated boy, and they felt it their duty to introduce me to the elegant Spencer script from the golden age of American penmanship.
When I’d visit my paternal grandparents, they’d put a football in my hand. “Go Gators” and “Roll Tide” were just as important for a Southern boy to learn as “Yes Ma’m” and “No Sir.”
About the only thing I write by hand now is my signature on a credit card slip. At work, I’ve replaced yellow legal pads with a special note-taking computer program on my laptop. My to-do lists and column ideas I jot down on the electronic note pad function on my iPhone.
It’s not just writing. I read the New York Times on my iPhone while crammed on the Metro going to work. Books too, downloaded for a few dollars.
It’s fascinating, really, these changes, which is why I’m embarking on a new project with my friend and fellow Letters columnist Fay Jacobs. You heard it here first: we’re developing an app for the iPhone. Well, we’re not actually “developing” it. Rather, we’re tapping into the technology of a new app publishing company in San Francisco.
An “app” is shorthand for a software program application designed specifically to work on today’s mobile smart phones. Probably the most well-known app is iTunes, where you use your phone to download music. There are apps for practically everything from identifying birds and spotting speed traps to tracking calories and keeping track of good wines.
Think of them as accessories for your phone. Apple launched the concept in 2007 when it put out the iPhone. Apps are now a billion dollar a year business that is changing communications.
Our app is a mobile travel guide we call “Rehomo Beach.” It aims to provide the gay and lesbian visitor with the quintessential Rehoboth experience, all on a 3.5-inch screen.
That’s a tough order, especially when you’ve got two opinionated writers, but we think it’s also a good marketing angle. He’s a 6’3” southerner. She’s a 5’3” native New Yorker. She likes to eat out; he prefers to cook in. He drives a pickup truck and she motors about in a BMW. She lives with schnauzers; he raises roses. You can see where this could go.
Anyhow, we’ve put together a selection of 90 entries and 290 photos covering places to stay, eat, drink, shop, and play. Each entry comes with a Google map, phone numbers, and websites. We’ve also tagged entries with our favorite picks and noted things of special interest to the ladies and the fellas.
Lots of these mobile travel guides are popping up. We think it important to make sure a mobile phone guide about Rehoboth comes from Rehoboth and not from some big automated company peddling nothing more than a glorified phone book and using stale Internet research for its content.
It’s under review right now by Apple and we should learn soon if we are good to go and when it will appear on the shelves of the official App store for a price still to be determined.
Our aim is to keep it fresh and continue to update it with new features and information. We also want to donate a portion of proceeds to CAMP Rehoboth—if it makes any money.
Even if it doesn’t turn us all into millionaires, it’ll be a fun adventure. Writing and publishing is going digital and app publishing is at the frontier with few rules and lots of wildcatters. How often do you get a chance to be an explorer nowadays?
We will keep you apprised as this develops. We hope you’ll take a look.
PS. No pens or pencils were used in writing this column or in developing this app.
Reach Rich Barnett and read more of his stories on Rehoboth at www.rehobothwithrich.blogspot.com.