Sure, happy to talk a bit about it.
Skritter has been thinking about getting into the content game for a while. Olle and I started working on a very ambitious content project mid-2016, but for one reason or another, we never got it off the ground. One of the big issues was the lack of access to a production team that understood Chinese and shared a passion for the Chinese learning process. Our entire team works remote and making high-quality videos is really tough for a team structured in this way. You can check out my solo-take on making videos here if you’re interested. It wasn’t pretty, and I honestly don’t have the time to keep making them even at the current quality. Five minutes of video was about 3-hours of production. Not a great time investment when you have a family and a job
Late 2017, we, like everyone else, heard the unexpected news that Gwilym, Fiona, and others had left ChinesePod. Why that happened is something I’d rather not discuss on our site. It is between them and ChinesePod and has nothing to do with Skritter. We still have the same relationship with the company. Our scratchpad is on ChinesePod, and ChinesePod users can still access content lessons from Skritter with login credentials.
In February of 2018 I reached out to Gwilym, who is a personal friend, to see what he was working on next and he expressed interest in getting involved with Skritter if possible. I talked with the team, and with Fiona and Gwilym together and we realized that they would be a great fit if we could make it work. Both of them had just started other jobs in Taiwan, but they agreed to do part-time content work for us, too. The production and content quality from them is seriously good, and we were happy to welcome them onto the Skritter team and provide them a platform to do what they do and make what they wanna make.
So, what does this mean for users?
It means fun and interesting content in the form of weekly videos! We’re also exploring the possibility of continuing the project Olle and I started working on nearly two-years ago now that we can actually shoot and edit high-quality videos (hint- it involves characters!). Our current plan is to release a new video once a week free on YouTube. Each video will have Practice Pad links to encourage people to explore and write Chinese and help spread the word about Skritter. We wanna give a bit extra to Skritter users, so each video will also have an official Skritter list that includes additional vocabulary from the videos. We’re not going to put these videos behind a paywall, but we might figure out a way to incorporate them into our apps a bit more in the future.
Gwilym and Fiona are also working with Maria (馬老師) on our HSK sentence projects and other fun vocabulary lists that are coming out soon. We don’t intend to raise our prices suddenly just because we’re making some videos and have some fun vocab lists. Skritter’s primary goal is still doing what we can to help students learn to read and write characters and be a flexible enough application to adapt to student’s individual study needs.
The majority of our efforts (and budget) is still focused on releasing new mobile apps, and continuing to improve what we’ve been offering since 2007. In fact, I am doing what I can right now to bring more and more awesome content companies and teams onto Skritter (in the form of study lists) so that we can all get additional value from some of the other services we might be studying Chinese on. One of the new potential partnerships like this is with Word Swing; a logical place for us to start as Olle is involved in both projects independently.
We’re working on some other stuff as well, but I really can’t discuss that just yet. As soon as I can, however, you’ll be hearing about it. I know that everyone will interpret recent events in their own way, but we (Skritter) just really wanted to work with passionate people who care deeply about teaching Chinese. We’re a small team, and all of us care very deeply about the Chinese language, culture, and most importantly, the characters!
Side note: Fiona and Gwilym will be the most featured people in our videos for a while, but mostly due to logistics (again, remote company). They’ll be working with Josh, Michael, Jeremy, Olle, Maria, and myself to keep making Skritter better and better. It’s a team effort and I can’t wait to be in some more videos soon