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Cowbird is a public library of human experience. Our mission is to gather and preserve exceptional stories of human life, so the insight and wisdom we acquire as individuals can be a resource for others to look to for guidance. Cowbird’s archive contains 87,737 stories on 28,107 topics from 14,562 authors in 186 countries. In early 2017, after five years as a public storytelling tool, Cowbird stopped accepting new contributions, shifting its operations to preserve its stories as an historical archive. You can read about that decision here.

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Cowbird was created by Jonathan Harris, an artist and computer scientist known for his projects — like We Feel Fine, The Whale Hunt, and I Love Your Work — that use technology to experiment with new forms of storytelling. In 2009, when he turned 30, he began a simple ritual of taking a photo and writing a short story each day, and posting them on the Internet each night before going to sleep. He called the resulting project Today, and it became the basis for Cowbird.

Cowbird took two years to build, and came to life at a series of art residencies in Iceland, Oregon, New Mexico, Vermont, and California. Cowbird launched on December 8, 2011 with hundreds of stories about the Occupy Wall Street movement, and a global community of storytellers soon sprung up around it. Cowbird received widespread media attention from places like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and TIME Magazine, which named Cowbird one of the “50 Best Websites of 2012.” That same year, we decided not to accept outside investment money, so Cowbird could operate as a public service and maintain its independence.

Cowbird continued for five years, pursuing its mission by providing a warm and welcoming environment for storytelling, home to a global community of storytellers.

Over time, usage of Cowbird began to decline, as people shifted to other more popular platforms. In early 2017, Cowbird stopped accepting new contributions and became an historical archive, preserving its stories as a public resource in perpetuity. You can read about this decision here.

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Shelburne, VT 05482

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