A fully transparent look at the Overhear journey
How it all started
2015 An idea hatches.
After creating several home recorded Albums and becoming frustrated with distributing them online Tom mused over another form of online distribution...
(Tom is still making music here: tompeel.bandcamp.com)
September 2016 - first iteration
With help from a friend overhearbrum was knocked together as a website that barely worked but had the gist.
I was pointed in the direction of ABG by a mutual friend who had made a mobile app in the past
Anna Brophy, one of Tom's student's from Access To Music joins Overhear on Work Experience for about 4 months.
Andrew picks up the Overhear coding mantel! Seriously couldn't have done it without this step and Andrews generosity.
First few venues get involved with Digbeth First Friday. Some lovely lino print posters are made by Hollodeck.
Web app prototype walk with Andrew, Anna, and others. Resulting in our first promo video by Paul Stringer
Andrew sends first mock up of the iPhone App.
Figured Poetry was a better medium to start with than music. From Tom's time at Impact Hub Birmingham poets weren't hard to find!
Out testing the iPhone App by the Spotted Dog in Digbeth
First App Release
February 2018 - Overhear is released to the App Store
All down to Andrew taking a punt on an idea I was running with 18 months previously!
Connect with Verve Poetry Festival about collaborating on an Arts Council Bid.
Verve 2018 Soft Launch
Chucked about a few flyers during one of Birminghams biggest poetry festivals
Set about recording as many poets as possible.
First Arts council bid rejected...
Android app delayed
Andrew had become a first time dad just after the iPhone app launched. Juggling the android coding at the same time was proving tricky.
Through working with Tiger Bam Comms we were put in touch with Ben Waddington of Still Walking Festival. Ben's walks focused on the often unseen details of areas and places over the history. This was a perfect partnership as the walks were far more poetic in drawing out what could be found in a space outside of Blue Plaques.
First Accepted Arts Council Bid.
Tom received £13938 to commission 12 poets for the Overhear app and hold 6 walking tours around the Verve Poetry Festival.
December 2018 - 50 Authenticated App Users
Android Mobile App launches...
It works with a few simple tests, but with the organising of the project, and no Android device to test with some issues go unnoticed...
Through a website called freelancer.com Hemin was recruited to code the Android app.
Cost £926.62 inc NDA agreement and transaction fees.
December 2018 - February 2019
Tom recorded and met the amazing poets commissioned for the Verve Overheard project.
Made contact with Jonathan Davidson of Writing West Midlands and invited to sit on a panel for the National Writers' Conference in June 2019.
February 2019 Verve Poetry Festival
An amazing festival! Great weather for our walks but some issues around the Android app not functioning correctly. It worked for some people but not others.
Kibriya Mehrban writes a guest blog for Overhear - Tom is super impressed with how much she 'gets' the app ethos and bookmarks her name for a later date...
Feature in ICHOOSEBIRMINGHAM gains lots of interest.
February 2019 - 155 authenticated app users
Begin planning for a larger Arts Council bid with a £49,352 budget in partnership with Writing West Midlands looking at a year long regional project with a European exchange element.
Issues persist with the Android App including facebook login code being rejected by facebook.
First iteration of the Overhear Admin Panel is developed providing an easier way of entering poem and artist data.
Overhear were asked by Writing West Midlands to partner on a project in Riga, Latvia with poet Anna Lawrence to take place in May.
Our trip to Riga was successful for iPhone users but still frustratingly temperamental for Android users.
All tests conducted on an Android worked for Tom but not for those on the walking tour.
Android Bug Breakthrough: the app was only allowing one user to collect a poem! This was so tricky to work out as creating Test poems to collect would work initially but then would become uncollectible once tested!
Extra edits for the Admin Panel £500
Total Dev costs £3026.62
Overhear registers as a limited company in the UK, this will help strengthen future Arts Council Bids. Sets up Tide Business Bank Account for this Company
One Year Project Arts Council Bid is unsuccessful. Over £15k projects require a lot more planning...
June 2019 National Writers Conference
Tom joins a panel for NWC19 on Getting Your Work Heard addressing new platforms like Overhear and other ways of harnessing tech for writers.
Overhear re-applies for an Arts Council project with just the Birmingham Literature Festival taking place in October. This time as an Organisation rather than an individual... something that has significant issues later on...
Bid amount £11,517
Second Arts Council Bid Accepted.
For this bid Overhear budgeted for Kibriya to join us as our project blogger. Check her out she's great!
Poems are recorded for the Birmingham Literature Festival Map.
Overhear Press Tour is led by Ben Waddington.
Android App redeveloped to fit with the new database and enable the user to switch between festival maps.
Total Dev Costs £4026.62
October 2019 - 320 authenticated app users
Birmingham Literature Festival gets underway. Our Walking Tours are a success with tours led more by poets trained by Ben. Android App functions well!
Enable the app to send a notification when within 50 meters of a poem plus other tweaks.
Total Dev Costs £4236.62
Our Developer Hemin in China goes offline indefinitely and is not heard from again... Unfortunately he has the only up-to date Android source code since last May.
Interest from Wolverhampton Literature Festival turns into another partnership applying for Arts Council funding of £13,270
Tom starts playing with kinetic text videos to showcase a few poems.
Thrid Arts Council Bid Accepted.
Recording starts for the Wolverhampton Literature Festival Commissions after funding approved.
Another excellent set of walking tours led by Steve Pottinger and Jeff Phelps under the guidance on Ben Waddington.
The UK goes into lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
All project bids are on pause and one with Festival of Audacity is dropped. The beginning chats with English Heritage also dry up.
NHS Midland MET Hospital Creative Practitioner puts a call out for Artists and Arts Organisations to get in touch.
An initial meeting discusses how Overhear can incentivise patients to be more mobile before and after hospital treatment.
An excellent Wolverhampton Literature Festival, with great uptake on the Overhear app from festival goers
For this project we brought in Nerea Perez to create our text animation videos all of which were excellent. you can find them here www.theoverhear.app/video
Arts Council Emergency Funding is applied for but not accepted.
We open up the Admin end of the Overhear website to enable users to upload their own poems to a Public Map of places they'd like to visit after lockdown.
Its a bit of a hack and not that elegant but we get some uploads.
Using Freelancer to find another developer we recruit Himanshu (icreatewebtech.com) for a series of updates and simplifications to the Admin Panel to allow anyone to upload to the Public Map without a login, a redesign of the login process for both apps so users don't have to register an account immediately but only after collecting their first poem, a welcome audio message that auto populates users libraries and a list of festivals the user choses from when the app starts up.
It's at this point we realise we don't have the most recent Android source code and so this has to be redeveloped with the updates from May 2019 onwards.
Total Dev costs £6190.03
Ideas around Holacracy are explored as a way to channel the energy and potential of Overhear through a governance group rather than just Tom as CEO
550 Authenticated App Users
Tom picks up an interest in Integral Theory through the book Reinventing Organisations by Frederic Laloux www.reinventingorganizations.com
Kibriya Mehrban and Adrian B Earle are invited to explore a self management Holacratic work structure and share the potential of Overhear as Co-Directors.
June becomes a month for reflection on so much that has gone before, internally, globally & historically and what the future will look like post pandemic. Black Lives Matter.
Kibriya and Adrian channel their workshop facilitating skills into creating the Pin-Your-Poem Zoom workshop.
Tutorial screen update.
We partner with The Barber Institute in commissioning Jaque Rowe to write poems based on the Galleries art work and pin it around Selly Oak, Birmingham
For Birmingham Heritage week we team up with Flatpack film festival to scour through some archive audio and make an audio Oral Histories bike trail.
The team start to tackle some big questions around what Overhear needs to be in a pandemic and starts to put together an over £15K Arts Council bid that develops the app and our workshop offering.
See's our 3rd Podcast with Gregory Leadbetter, Episode 2 featured Shaun Hill. Find them here
After feeling quite confident with the Arts Council Bid submitted we were set back by having the bid declined. This release of tension however gives way to some new ideas and a fresh approach on a few different fronts leading to some clarity and a refocusing on research and development
January starts wit a flurry of meetings, reaching out to testers, development companies and previous partners. The year is off to an encouraging start with new projects in the pipeline that we can reveal in due course.
1000 twitter followers!
We start developing the all pins map with Studio14. This meets significant delays lasting 6 months... But we have launched the new update available now.
Total Dev Costs £8146.12
ReVersing the Sherbourne
This was our first project that we didn't write the bid for ourselves but were invited to partner with. A project with Nine Arches Press at Writing West Midlands for Coventry City of Culture. We were also able to provide a live streaming service for the festival as a sideline.
We worked with Shaun Hill to record a selection of poems to be pinned to Birmingham's Gay Quarter for the 2021 SHOUT Festival. Working with SHOUT joins us up with Sound Artist Radhika Aggarwal who we will work with later...
Recording gets underway for Offsite 9 a fringe project of the British Arts Show 9 launching in Jan 22
Begin development of a filtering system for listeners to search for pin by tag
Chalk boards go up around empty spaces in Wolverhampton with the words "If we had this space we would..." on them. Each location has a recording assigned by a local artist.
March 2022 SOHO SETTLERS Project
Our biggest project to date with China Plate Theatre as part of Birminghams Common Wealth Games Festival.
Workshops get underway for the Soho Settlers Project in Handsworth with local residents. We capture stories of migration and settling from various communities and invite 5 poets to distill these into works for the app.
We move back to outsourcing our development with iCreatewebtech based in Ahmedabad, India to add a QR collection system to supplement geolocation for smaller areas.
Soho Settlers project launches at Soho House Handsworth and we get to have a few snaps thanks to Paul Stringer.
The Soho Settlers Project pins a total of 26 Poems and oral Histories reflecting the diversity of the Soho Road
October 2022 Wormingham Project
Partnering with Civic Square in Ladywood we host the stories of Superworm on a trail to find out about the Black Gold found in the earth where the worms live.
Co-Owner Call Out
We begin to consider a pivot in code away from native to either Unity or React Native. We find various figma plugins that can convert wireframe in to basic react and react native code that can run on Expo...