Cornell AppDev, the project team behind Eatery and Ithaca Transit, will release its latest product this Friday — connecting Cornellians to student publications at the touch of a button.
The app, Volume, compiles campus content into one platform, hoping to engage new audiences and connect readers with creators.
Volume will initially feature content from nine organizations: Slope Media Group, Crème de Cornell, Guac Magazine, Big Red Sports Network, The Cornell Review, The Undergraduate Law and Society Review, Cornell Claritas, The Advocate and CU Nooz. The development team hopes to get more of Cornell’s publications onboard in the coming months.
Tewodros Mitiku ’23, the leader of the Volume development team, said the main goal is to connect campus publications with students. According to interview research conducted with testers before the app’s release, many Cornellians don’t keep up with publications or know they exist.
“It’s assisting publications and reaching wider audiences,” Mitiku said. “And to me, that is a pretty satisfying mission to work on.”
The concept is years in the making. In 2017, Slope Media Group looked to expand its written content beyond their website, but according to current president Kendall Lieberman ’22, the multimedia publication struggled to carry out the idea on its own. At the time, according to Lieberman, Slope Media couldn’t work with AppDev to do it, either.
Spring 2020 brought a new horizon, however, as Cornell AppDev refurbished the idea. Inspired by Slope Media’s initial concept and The Sun’s mobile app, the team took it through a full product ideation process and started production on Volume.
Mitiku’s pod researched 53 Cornell publications and contacted those that might work with the app. Mitiku emphasized that these organizations are the core of the app, and his team primarily seeks to promote their work.
“It was really important that we establish a good relationship with them early on, specifically to understand what their needs are,” Mitiku said.
They reached out to various publications, many of which responded enthusiastically. Slope Media’s contributors appreciated the opportunity to showcase their work in an app, according to Lieberman.
Jonathan Harris ’21, co-editor in chief of the Cornell Undergraduate Law and Society Review, said he was optimistic for all that Volume could showcase.
“I think that the work that Volume is doing, to put it all in one place and promote all of the students’ work, is great,” he said.
According to Mitiku, the team planned to launch Volume in fall 2020, but technical issues prevented a full release. Instead, Cornell AppDev released an internal prototype for students to test. The team collected user feedback through surveys and interviews, which allowed it to complete the app for spring 2021.
Each onboarded publication has an RDF Site Summary Feed, which converts new files on their online platforms into an accessible format. The Volume team parses each RSS feed to keep the app updated with new content.
Developers and publication managers cited several of Volume’s benefits, giving publications a broader platform to share their content and the potential for collaboration between publications.
“This definitely could kickstart a lot of different interactions that we might not regularly have,” Lieberman said. She expressed enthusiasm for potential content collaborations and a marketing platform more effective than Facebook, which Slope Media has previously relied on to engage their audiences.
Mitiku said he hopes that the Cornell community will welcome Volume, alongside Cornell AppDev’s previous projects.
“Seeing the value of student publications and creative content has been a huge thing for me, which is why I’m so excited to develop the app and hopefully continue actualizing its mission,” Mitiku said.