“We have Instagram for photography, we have LinkedIn fit for professional networking, but we don’t have any social network dedicated to literature.” And that’s exactly the thought on which Arighna Maity developed the Jiya app: to give budding writers a common platform to write stories, poems, quotes and share them with their readers.
Not everyone might be convinced about the need for a dedicated social network when you can share your work with friends via platforms like Facebook. Maity, however, has a different opinion on why the Jiya app is a better medium for writers than Facebook or LinkedIn.
“The problem with Facebook or LinkedIn is that this kind of literary profile will not be built for you,” he says, adding that you will never know how many poems or stories you have written because those will be lost in various other post feeds. Another advantage of the Jiya app is that there is no length restriction, something that gives writers more control over what they want to write. The free app also has a built-in text editor, which can make text look exactly the way you want it to with the different fonts, sizes, and even line alignment. Then there is also an option to save multiple drafts for free which in some of the rival writing apps it is a paid feature.
Maity, who did his masters in computer software engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani, says he got the idea to start a social network for literature back in 2017 but couldn’t spend time on conceptualising the product since he was working full time in a tech company. But he did start a Facebook page dedicated to writing and quickly it had grown to 30,000 followers. Upon returning from the US in early 2020, Maity launched the Jiya app.
“When we go to a gift store to buy cards or mugs, we just read the lines written on those cards but we never think who has written those lines,” Maity observes the lack of acknowledgement given to writers for what they do. That thought of writers not getting their due is what drove Maity to launch the Jiya app. The name Jiya, however, was suggested by the writing community. “I believe all the writings come out of our heart,” he says.
The platform, which currently has 2000 users from 23 countries, is a complete social network on its own. It has all the social elements including a timeline, the ability to comment, share the content, and follow each other. That number may seem small in size for now, but Maity says the Jiya platform is only dedicated to writing and nothing else. “It’s all about writing, whatever you are expressing…thinking, whatever you’re feeling, you just come and express it over here,” he explains.
Available on Google’s Android platform, the Jiya app is divided into six categories and each category is further subdivided into various genres like fiction, non-fiction, emotion, friendship, etc. There is a dedicated category for poems, tales, letters, articles, conventional dialogue and more. Maity says finding the content you are interested in on the Jiya app has been simplified because of these categories.
Even though it’s not been a year since the Jiya app went live, Maity says the response the platform has been getting from African countries, especially from Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana, has been exceptional. In fact, Jiya’s third largest user base is in Sierra Leone in West Africa. In recent months, Maity has observed a rise in the number of users from the Philippines and Bhutan. According to Maity, the poetry section is rather popular among Jiya users.
While India remains a priority, Maity believes getting more users from outside of the country would give the platform the edge. For now, Maity’s priority is to make a robust platform that is interactive in nature.
In a short span of time, the Jiya app boasts of over 6000 posts and while that number is keeping bigger, Maity is finding a way as to how to increase posts per day. Right now, the platform attracts anywhere between 60 to 70 posts in a day.
Adding local language support is also helping Maity to acquire more writers. Users can already write in Hindi and Bengali but recently the platform got support for five new languages including Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada as well as Dzongkha, the official language of Bhutan.
Asked if there is a mechanism to moderate content that goes on the platform, Maity says: “It’s not possible manually to check all the contents but we do have a report feature so anybody finding any post offensive or if there is any copyright issue they can report to us and we will take the action… If the post is found violating our content guideline, we will delete that post and after two times this thing happens, we will ban the user from the platform.”
Since Maity’s team consists of only three people, he personally connects with writers through WhatsApp groups and encourages them to come to the Jiya platform. “I left my job, and I am running the platform all from my savings,” he said.
Born and raised in Kolkata, the 32-years-old calls himself a “Literary Tech Entrepreneur” and wants to turn Jiya into a global social network of literature. But since the platform is young, Maity says he’s still testing how far the Jiya app goes. “I target the amateur writers who haven’t published any books so far but they want to showcase their writing skills to other people.”