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Craftic: Fantastic Crafts

Jennifer Refat

A user generated website where site members can submit, find and vote on the best craft tutorials.

http://craftic.com



Craftic.com is a community where users are able to share how-to guides on making items of their own creation. This site is intended for non commercial use, where users are encouraged to use Creative Commons Licenses to promote the sharing aspect of the site, as well as for others users to evolve their ideas and make them better. Allowing users to reuse each other's tutorials will create an open environment where tutorials can be used to create derivative items based off of earlier submissions. The licenses allow users to specify whether or not others are able to make something from a how-to and use it commercially or not.

The website is primarily broken up into categories based on materials. These categories are: fiber, fabric, clay, paper, wood, plastic, glass, and metal. These categories have been created so that the users can break away from the conventional mindset, in which classifications are based on the crafts themselves. With the current influx of reused and recycled items, it is unnecessary to state that any particular item will use a certain material. The evolution of different crafts has blurred the lines of whether or not traditional methods and materials will be used in a project.

Craftic.com is meant to be a flexible medium where users who for example, have a love for creating paper goods, can have a window into several crafts that may use paper. This also helps the avid crafter who has several supplies in stock but does not have ideas of what to do with them. Therefore, a user with a large supply of fabric can find a tutorial where fabric has been used in both quilting, dressmaking and even an installation. The number of crafts isn't necessary, it is what is used to make something that is of importance. Through this method, craftic.com will encompass a wide variety of crafts such as paperwork, needlework, fiber arts and metalwork.

Through the user generated community construction, users can learn about other crafters who are interested in making things out of the same materials as they are. This should encourage collaboration and communication, where users are seeking out knowledge from each other and will evolve as artists and craftspeople together. When a user is searching for a new project, the user can gain knowledge about the maker, the craft and other aspects of maker culture.

The website is intended for both the avid crafter as well as the supporter of handmade goods. Through seeing the tutorials, users can see what work goes on behind a handmade item in which they might be interested in purchasing. Now that the user has seen who the crafter is behind the scenes, what their process is, what their expertise and approximate time and cost it took to make the item, a regular browser can have more appreciation for a handmade item. In this regard, the site does promote the commercial interests of tutorial submitters who have shops. If a user is not interested in following the tutorial and making the item, the user has the option of purchasing the finished item from a craftsperson's shop.

In the future, there will be a voting feature where users can delineate between popular and unpopular how-tos. The voting will be based on the preferences of the user base. This voting system will provide more exposure to items that are universally accepted by the community. Rankings will also be grouped by the quality of the tutorial.

Background
My educational background is a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from New York University. Professionally, I have been working as a Web Producer for NYU for approximately the last three years. In my recreational activities, I am constantly on a quest for finding new ideas on what to make next. I have been a seller on Etsy.com where I have sold handmade goods I created.

All in all, I am primarily a crafty technorati. Considering my technical background, I spend a considerable amount of time in front of screens. I'm continuously trying to express myself by making things that are both software related as well as tangible.

In the realm of crafting, there have been several times when I have given away a gift and felt that the recipient wasn't aware of what exactly had gone into making the item. In order to validate the time and effort into a project, it would be a challenge to sit down and explain all details to someone. Hopefully through this project, I can construct something that will enable makers to feel appreciated for their work and to help people in general gain some knowledge in a field they aren't familiar with.

Audience
Makers and lovers of handmade things

User Scenario
A casual browser visits craftic.com. He is looking to find tutorials based on plastic. He clicks on the “plastic” navigation item and views all the tutorials available that are primarily constructed with plastic. He finds a tutorial he is interested in and constructs it. After finding the process to be rewarding, he decides that he wants to contribute back to the community.

He registers himself with the username of “happyCrafter” and verifies his account. Once he is verified, he logs in and goes to the submit page where he has the option of using either the “Simple & Sweet” or “Detailed & Sweeter” tutorial template options. The first option allows him to quickly post a tutorial with a category, a headline, a one paragraph description, one photo and a Creative Commons license. The second option allows him to do the same with the exception of being able to create numbered steps in the how-to. Each step has its own description and option of multiple photos. Also, “happyCrafter” is able to assign 'sub-materials' which act as sub-categories. Therefore, the main category is used to display the tutorial under one category. The sub-categories will allow a tutorial to be displayed across several categories.

Implementation
The site templates are built with CSS and HTML.

The site functionality is solely based on LAMP technology and Javascript. AJAX effects are supported by the script.aculo.us Javascript libraries.

Conclusion
From this experience, I have learned a lot about user generated websites and the process that is necessary to build one. The span of this project really does go beyond the semester since a user generated site requires plenty of feedback from a wide range of users. Once these remarks are taken into consideration, one can continue to evolve the design and functionality of the website.

The question of how to vote and search seemed a very simple one in the beginning of this project. I have gained knowledge on how to go about trying to filter the best from the most popular and will continue to try to answer this ever important question.