The filterable firehose is an amazingly powerful tool for finding new contributors. You can use the filters to zoom right in on Lit Genius and select exactly the kind of contribution you’re looking for. Here are a few tips from a, er, veteran firehoser.
To bring firehose up, click the gear icon on the top right of any Genius page, then click “Firehose”:
This will bring up the unfiltered firehose in all of its dizzying, cross-cultural glory:
At this point, you’re viewing everything that’s happening everywhere on the site. Kinda humbling, no? Like gazing through a telescope into the extra-solar universe… anyway, obviously there’s a ton of stuff going down at any one time, so don’t be concerned if your computer’s fan steps up a gear. We can already see in the screenshot above that there’s some literary activity happening, but we want to chisel down our feed so it’s all lit everything. Let’s proceed. Click in the “Tags” box in the top left, then select “Lit Genius”-- it should be the third option down, so you don’t need to type anything out:
Then scroll down and click “Slice & Dice!”:
This will give you an overview of everything that’s happening on Lit Genius, which, again, is probably a lot to take in. It’s useful for seeing what’s going on generally, though: texts getting a lot of annotations will pop up often, and you might discover a hidden gem or two. It’s kind of like the behind-the-scenes Twitter feed of the Lit Genius artifice.
What we really want, though, is content. Check out the “Activity Type” filters just above the “Slice & Dice” button. Most of these are self-explanatory, but the most important one is “Content creation”: this will filter the firehose further to only include cool new stuff: new annotations, suggestions and texts.
Since we’re looking for new contributors, we can also choose to focus on Whitehats, using the filter just below the Tag one:
Now we’ve got our firehose nicely pointed, let’s have a look at some of the most common contributions that crop up:
Cater your message to the user: I have a generic greeting, and ask the contributor if there’s anything I can do to help out, but in this case, I would compliment his elegant writing on a difficult text, and maybe tip him off to our other big-name Ulysses annotators.
Well, as Auden would say, so that is that. The firehose might seem like an unwieldy and difficult tool at first, but after a couple of goes, it’s an awesome way to connect with new users and bring them into the fam. It’s also a break from annotating and editing: connecting with new people and learning from them is the essence of Genius, and (I think) of genius. Happy firehosing!