Use Pencil – A Product Review

I haven’t done one of these in awhile, so I thought it was time to get back on it. This post is another one of my product reviews. I recently was contacted via Slack DM in a startup Slack group that I am part of (SSG – is the group). The acquaintance had reached out to me to see if I would be interested in signing up for a platform he had been working on, and giving him my thoughts and opinions on his product. His product, is called Pencil (Not the No. 2 pencil y’all are thinking about). Pencil is a web platform (for now?) that is focused on sharing ideas through quick blurbs, added with visuals.

Get your thoughts out. Spread your ideas through rich visuals in minutes. – Pencil

I decided to give it a try and explore the platform. I’ll admit, at first it was a bit confusing as I really didn’t understand what was going on. However, no different to my other product explorations, I decided to play around with the platform after signing up. (Signing up is easy, plug in an email, register a username, and your’e set to go) I explored the various ‘Stories’ that were trending on the platform. As I clicked on a few and reviewed them, it hit me – Pencil is a short story, content curation, through the use of added visuals. What I mean by this is: think Medium, Blogging, Facebook Posts, but condensed to relay a certain point or message, with visuals. Hell it’s like powerpoint slides but with interactive visuals, only difference is that you’re not looking at a slide with 239489027354723847572345 words, where you lose your focus and attention.

For example, I decided to create my first ‘Pencil Story’ – titled Definition of a startup (linked for you to view). I wanted to create my story on my “definitions” on what defines a startup (opinions are my OWN).

To make one was rather simple: create my first page, add a visual, then continue to add more points by “adding pages.” You keep your text short and simple, to relay your message. From there, you can add visuals in the form of images or GIFs (love that they use GIPHY’s api). I like this feature, as I felt it helped relay my points across more effectively (OH SHIT – MAYBE THAT’S THEIR PURPOSE?!). With their integration with GIPHY’s API (The largest GIF search engine), there wasn’t a GIF I couldn’t find to add to my story. The entire time I was creating my ‘story,’ I felt my creative juices flowing while thinking of the content I wanted to write.

Quite frankly, with old school blogging becoming “obsolete” – (IMO), there have been more and more new platforms that take writing to the next level. Medium is a great example of this. With the emphasis on “content” in today’s tech industry, Pencil seems to be on par with the overall sentiments of the mass audience.

Overall, I liked Pencil. I think I’ll use it more often to just play around with it and make some GIF Slides(?!). I suggest you try it out as well and see for yourself. You can sign up by going here and follow them on Twitter here.

Oh, I also took the liberty of taking screen shots of my first story. For you CAT LOVERS, there’s CAT GIFS ALL OVER.


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