Get Rowdy: Ph.D Student Creates Crowd Rouser

By Natasha Schuyler

Basketball season may be over, but come next year, coordinating chants won’t require pieces of paper being flaunted around the student section.

Doug Crescenzi, a Ph.D. student in the School of Information Studies, has created Crowd Rouser, an app that synchronizes chants. The screen displays a countdown to the chant as well as when each syllable should be yelled.

Last year in Washington DC, Crescenzi was training for a marathon. With a lot of time to think during the run, the idea for Crowd Rouser swept into his mind. “When I would go for other runs I kept thinking about it. But I never talked to anybody about it. I was scared. I thought everyone would think it was a dumb idea,” he said.

In August 2011 Matt Smith, an environmental engineer and friend of Crescenzi’s, decided he wanted to get into mobile development when Crescenzi told him about an idea he’d been playing around with. “We just sat there and didn’t get around to it until Christmas time. We came to realize well, ‘shit this might actually be a good idea’,” Crescenzi said.

Between schoolwork and trying to start a company, Crescenzi realized he had too much on his plate and decided to take a semester off from school to focus on developing Crowd Rouser. “It was kind of scary thinking I might let people down. It was a sense of ‘Am I crazy? Am I really doing this?’ Making that initial decision was really hard,” he said.

When the first Syracuse home football game comes around, Crescenzi is hoping for a polished product. “I think that first home football game is really going to be the time see whether this thing really works or not.”

Each smartphone with the app, within the designated radius, will vibrate when a chant is coming. Right now fans are unable to make the chants, but Crescenzi said feedback on chants is welcome because he doesn’t want the athletic department controlling the chants.

“I’d rather students fuel it as opposed to the athletic department telling me what chants to facilitate. Cause then it’s boring. Then it’s the same thing as the stupid cheerleaders.”

The first version of the app should be ready within the next few weeks, but because the app is not as appealing without a sporting event, Crescenzi plans on holding Skype demos to explain what else the app can do.

In the future, Crescenzi said Crowd Rouser will have a more social aspect. People will be able to log into their account and make chants, then other people can vote for which one they like best. The highest voted chants are the ones that will get yelled during the game. Students will even be able to compete with other schools to see who pulls off the best chant.

“When you’re a sports fan, everyone is so determined to prove they are the better fan. I had friends at Penn State; we’d go back and forth when we were undergrads. ‘Penn State is garbage. Syracuse is garbage.’ And we talked about the atmosphere of the games,” Crescenzi said. “What if you could videotape badass chants you pull off at games and share it online?”

With Crowd Rouser Crescenzi is determined to create a creative environment where fans can battle with chants. “I’m thrilled at how much I’m learning. It’s crazy. I’m nervous that the thing will tank and no one will want it. But that is something I can live with. The gains I’ve made from learning in the last couple of months totally outweigh massive colossal failure.”

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