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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Writer's Dream: A Social Network for Long-Form Storytelling

Jonathan Harris, the founder
of Cowbird, now in testing.
Social network communication started and has remained as truncated thoughts. One of the most famous brand being 'tweets'.

What the hell is so 'sociable' about shortened thoughts?

How about a social networking place for slow, longer-form thoughts and storytelling?

Well it's here and attracting award-winning photographers and writers.

Jonathan Harris, an artist that re- imagines how humans relate to technology and to each other, started a project back in 2010 that eventually led to his creation of the new social website Cowbird that allows writers, photographers and other artists to interact in just such a manner.

The details of his project and how it evolved into Cowbird is intriguing, informative and interesting:

From The New York Times by Jennifer Preston 

Pull Up a Mouse and Stay a While

Starting on his 30th birthday in August 2010, Jonathan Harris began taking a photo every day of something he thought was interesting. He would write a short story about it and then post it online.

For the next 440 days, Mr. Harris, 32, a noted artist and digital technologist, whose work has been widely exhibited from MoMA to the Le Centre Pompidou in Paris, carried out his project. It has evolved into a new Web site he founded, called Cowbird — a social network that has attracted more than 7,000 people since it began last December, including award-winning photographers and writers. Mr. Harris said it is a place for slow, long-form storytelling, the “opposite of Twitter and Facebook.”

“We are at an interesting point in the history of communication,” Mr. Harris said. “We’ve gone from letter writing to chat to text messages to tweets. It is not clear to me that there is another level of compression. The question, is do we stay here or do we go faster?”

In less than three months, people from around the world have used Cowbird to create more than 7,600 mostly personal stories about people or moments in their lives, using words, pictures and sounds. All pieces are accompanied with a single photograph and some include audio. Some include a few words of text, others more.

For example, in a seven-minute story, illustrated with a portrait of a young French woman called Angelique, the woman’s ex-boyfriend, Scott Thrift, describes how they met, fell in love and drifted apart after being together for nearly three years.

Read and learn more

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