NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Make art in just six words.
That’s what a group of six entrepreneurs hope Westchester County will do with their new micropoetry application, Zhong, which challenges authors to create six-word stories.
Zhong (pronounced Jhoong), was inspired by Ernest Hemingway, who, as legend says, was once challenged to tell the story of a life in six words, to which he responded, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Over time, six-word memoirs have become a popular, creative and challenging way for authors to express themselves.
The team that envisioned Zhong is led by Iona College alumni Steve Wallace, 24, Jay Wegimont, 22, Emily Pennachio, 24, and Marc Igneri, 25 – who concentrate on user acquisition – and developers Joe Kramer, 35 and Constantine Apostolou, 22.
“We looked at (the medium), and found that there was a lot of gravity around six-word stories, but no real platform dedicated to allowing people to creatively distribute them,” Wallace said. “From there, we found developers
Zhong quickly grew from an idea into a reality, with Apostolou doing triple duty, working a full-time job, going to school and helping his co-founders program the web application, which has been live since last year. Kramer is presently working on an iPhone application, which is expected to be completed and distributed in the coming weeks.
“Building something from scratch is never an easy endeavor,” Wegimont said. “While they’re building the project, it leaves room for other members of the team to figure out what else we can use Zhong for, and to build a firm user base.
The team behind Zhong believes that their app can serve many practical uses outside of sharing six-word stories. They are hopeful that it can become a tool in the classroom, forcing students to cut out superfluous words in their writing.
“If you push the kids with consistency to use Zhong, in and out of the classroom], this could be a tool to help (students) learn to pick out what’s important and not fill their work with fluff,” Wallace noted. “It’s a fun, relatable way for teachers to interact with kids without overbearing educational software.”
While there will be some detractors who will scoff at the notion of a six-word literary work of art, Wegimont said that people said the same thing about Twitter, which celebrated its eighth anniversary last week.
“Nobody thought you could get the news across in 140 characters, and now they have it on NBC, and everyone has a Twitter handle to get the news first,” he said. “Our goal at Zhong is to help people build writing skills, cut the (excess) and use our site as a way to express themselves.”
Wallace summarized Zhong with a Zhong.
“Think heavy. Get witty. Have fun.”