I’ve had a long term interest in digital ‘fridge’ poetry, making my first efforts with Flash around 15 years ago. A year or so ago I was excited by Fridge Poetry – Google Sheets as Database by Tom Woodward. There were a couple of goodies in that post, getting the word list from a google sheet and a nifty way to allow folk to easily make their own. I made a sheet and a poem and slotted the idea away.

I’ve revisited Tom’s post (and others) a few times, gathering tools 1 and wondering.

On the holiday weekend, given poor weather and a head cold, I revisited the idea and made my own Fridge.

This riffs & extends the idea a wee bit:

  1. You can add a background image to the poem, either from a built in flickr search or a local one.
  2. There is a standard common word list and a topical one from the google sheet.
  3. The words in the lists can be used more than once.
  4. I used JavaScript as opposed to php (except for proxying images to allow you to export).
  5. You can export the poem as an image.

I’ve edited Tom’s template a little, the new one:

  • Automatically generated a link to use. Tom got you to copy paste in the sheets own url and parsed that.
  • Adds a field for the image search.

Make a List this link should get you to create a copy of the list spreadsheet. You can edit the words (on the 2nd worksheet) and change the image search,  more info: Fridge Poetry.


I’ve gained a wee bit more JavaScript and jQuery. The idea of using Google sheets to populate a webpage or to display info from a sheet in a template is interesting. html2canvas is another tool that has interesting potential for storytelling on the web.

Using /copy at the end of a google sheet to allow anyone to make a copy is useful too.

Finally the ability of google sheets to get the id of the current sheet is really handy in simplifying the creation of links. This relies on a very simple script:

function getSheetID() {
  var r = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSpreadsheet().getId();
return r;


you can then get the id by typing =getSheetID() in a cell.


There is more help on how to make and use a wordlist here: Fridge Poetry.

Hopefully someone will find this fun of useful, if you do and create new wordlists please let me know.

It is National Poetry Day. When I was in class I always wanted to do something for this, but only occasionally remembered. Although I don’t have a way with words I like working with poetry in the class. I also occasionally like twitter haiku and the like.

I read Tom Woodward’s blog regularly and yesterday I noticed Fridge Poetry – Google Sheets as Database in my RSS reader. Given that I’ve messed about with fridges before 1, I took a look: Google Sheets – Fridge Poetry.

The really interesting thing 2 about this is that Tom has set it up so that it is easy to make another fridge with different sets of words. He even has a link on his post to create a copy of the google spreadsheet to make your own copy (you need a google account, a low entry bar). The sheet itself has the instructions.

Here is one with a selection of words from Scotland small? by Hugh MacDiarmid.

How do you save something like this? Take a screenshot.

What I really love about this idea, besides the sharing of how to do it, it the easy way it can be extended and used with a different set of words.

  1. That was back in 2002 when I was playing with Flash
  2. The other interesting this is the JavaScript and php stuff.

A while back I blogged about a simple iPod touch/iPhone web app I was working on for creating images with lunes tamped on them (iPod Touch Poems). Over the last week or two I’ve seen a couple of classes using it:

Both classes had a little problem with the app working properly when add to the iPod Touch home screen. It seems that:

<meta name="apple-mobile-web-app-capable" content="yes" />

Had crept back into the html. I’d found earlier that if this is present it stops he download of an image, and hence the poem, to an iPhone or iPod Touch’s Photos.

Please let me know if you use the lunes app and any problems (or success) you have. leave a comment here or tweet @johnjohnston.

Recently I’ve been thinking about ipod touches quite a bit. As well as giving some support to the Glencairn ipod project and being the middle man for a wee Consolarium trial of TapTale which will start soon, I am just back from Oldham and Blackpool CLC’s iPodTouch Conference.

The conference was a great success and there is a lot of interesting chatter on the ning site and on Twitter #ipod2010

Last weekend I started playing with an idea for a wee web app. The idea is to provide an interface for searching flickr and creating images combining flickr photos and text. Using only photos that can be adapted and incorporating attribution.


As a sort of proof of concept I made a web app that makes lunes. A Lune is a fixed-form variant haiku created for the English language. It has three words on the first line, five on the second and three on the third. I’ve used lune writing as a classroom activity on several occasions, they are simple and fun to write. (Lune (poetry) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

The web app works like this:

Touch Poem Screens

  1. Pupils load the webpage int oSafari on their ipods and type in a search.
  2. The app retrieves and displays a list of creative commons photos that you are allowed to make derivations of.
  3. Pupils select a photo by clicking on it. This opens the photo with a 3 line form over it.
  4. Pupils type in poem and click Go.
  5. The image and text is sent to the server where it is stamped with the text and attribution and sent back to browser.
  6. Pupil presses on image, save dialog opens and image can be saved to photos.

I am using the phpFlickr to search and GD to stamp the photos

I tried the app out with the Glencairn primary six class on tuesday, we then bumped the photos to my phone, transferred them to a mac and added voice in iMovie: Animal Lunes, all in 90 minutes.

I though the app ran fairly smoothly except for quotes which came back escaped with a slash , some text ran off the pictures and the problem with not being able to fix spelling mistakes. I should be able to fix the escapes and hopefully alter the font size to suit the picture width.

Of course the whole thing was put together in an afternoon, the code is rough and the interface rougher. The plan might be to make it a bit more ajaxy and add a few different poem types, proper haiku, kennngs, Cinquains etc. I am wondering if it would be worthwhile developing? Is it too much of a one off to be really useful? I’d love to know what you think?

You can see the webpage in a quick and dirty Lunes Simulator or directly Flickr Lunes.