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About Cowbird

Cowbird is a library of human experience.

We are a community of tens of thousands of storytellers, located all over the world. We offer free and simple storytelling tools for anyone to use, combining photos, audio, and text into heartfelt personal vignettes.

We’ve designed Cowbird to reflect the basic truths that all human lives are interconnected, that great stories can come from anywhere, and that we can learn a lot from each other, once we make the time to listen.

This is a place to slow down and go deeper — our mission is to build to world’s first public library of human experience, so the knowledge and wisdom we accumulate as individuals may live on as a part of the commons, available for this and future generations to look to for guidance.

We have no ads or investors — we’re completely supported by our members, who can choose to become Citizens for $5 a month. Please join us

  • What does it cost?
  • Cowbird is totally free.
  • Will you have ads?
  • Never.
  • How do you support this?
  • Cowbird is completely supported by our community. Our beloved Citizens contribute $5 / month to keep the project going.
  • Who owns my content?
  • You do. You can use the Creative Commons license chooser in the story editor to choose a license for your stories.
  • Are there editors?
  • No. You’re free to post stories about anything you like, as long as you follow our community guidelines.
  • Why no video?
  • We believe in the power of photos, text, and sound. We may add video someday, but not for now.
  • Do you have an App?
  • No. We think Apps are destined for obsolescence — they’ll be the CD-Roms of tomorrow. We believe in the open Web. That said, you’ll find that Cowbird works well on your smartphone.
  • Can I post stories from my phone?
  • You can post stories by email. Check out your Settings page for instructions.
  • How is this different from social networks?
  • Cowbird is a place for a deeper, longer-lasting kind of self-expression than you’re likely to find elsewhere on the Web. It's less about sharing what you link to and like, and more about sharing what life's really like. We’re interested in the kind of stories that will still resonate in 100 years.
  • Is this a dating site?
  • Some people have called Cowbird “a dating site for romantics.” You never know where love will be hiding.
  • Why tell stories?
  • Stories help us be students and teachers of life. They help us make sense of our lives, and they help us find meaning.
  • Can my organization partner with Cowbird?
  • Yes! We do projects with interesting partners. Please email and tell us what you have in mind.
  • What browser should I use?
  • We recommend Chrome, Safari, or Firefox.
  • Why the name “Cowbird”?
  • Slow like a cow, fast like a bird.
  • Why not call it “Birdcow”?
  • That would be ridiculous.
  • More questions?
  • Check out our help page.
  • “I am so in love with Cowbird. It could be the most elegant use of the web I have viewed to date.”
  • “I've just graduated and I am a little scared and Cowbird is one of the closest things to a map I have. Mostly, so far, it is telling me I can go in any direction, and to just try to do it with dignity and passion, which is the vaguest and best advice I think I have ever gotten.”
  • “Being able to put that out into the world was a powerful experience. You've created an amazing, almost sacred, space.”
  • “The site is a wonder. My goosebumps are traveling all over this body, inside and out. Gratitude popping, especially for the vision and hands that made it real.”
  • “I just love how intimate the site is. Raw, unwashed connection into someone's deepest thoughts.”
  • “Cowbird is a beautiful world. It slows you down in the hustle of bustle of life. It inspires you with stories from amazing people. It is a place where you’re grateful for humanity. It’s a humbling experience to be part of it.”
  • “Just so human.”
  • “I just want to compliment you on the creation of a truly beautiful addition to the internet. The concept is so clean, the design is pitch perfect, and the underlying values shine through the experience and the community forming around it. I have been building software for over 25 years and I know how very hard it is to do something this well.”
  • “It is beautiful, powerful, sublime, exciting, inspiring, provocative... and so much more. Wow, oh wow. Thank you for imagining, engineering and building such a profoundly compelling community.”
  • “I am usually overwhelmed with social networking sites and marketing via the internet, and this place feels like the exact opposite: warm, welcoming, beautiful, creative, and on and on. In short, I am so happy to be here with everyone.”
  • “I love the idea of online communes — I fully endorse cowbird as a ‘utopia in our times!’”
  • “You've not just gotten together a collection of experiences, but are on your way to creating an experiential taxonomy of everyday life, one that crosses generations and classes and brings us to regard what's universal even in each unique entry.”
  • “Low-key, contemplative and deeply personal, the site is like Twitter in slow-motion.”
  • “Cowbird is determined to deepen the Web... We’re all battling hyper-connectivity. Cowbird offers another option: technological slow food. This is not longer, it’s longer-lasting.”
  • “Amid the clamor of most social media sites, on Cowbird everything slows down. There’s no rush. With that kind of beauty, why should there be?”
  • “Fast and agile like a bird, slow and ruminant like a cow, designed to be a narrative alternative to the data mayhem that fills the Web — a place where people can go deeply into the ‘ecstatic truth’ of human life.”
  • “Cowbird is a single interconnected place where the stories get interwoven, allowing people to find and share stories they might otherwise not discover.”
  • “It’s not just that the stories are great, it’s also the fact that Cowbird is beautifully designed, simple but interactive, a repository that seems to be in motion constantly, a place where depth is welcomed.”
  • “Cowbird and the “unfiltered voice” of the Pine Ridge storytellers were a natural fit for National Geographic. This is a future that we’re terribly excited about and fully embracing. This just suits our DNA perfectly.”
  • “A wikipedia for life’s meaningful moments.”

Cowbird was conceived and created by Jonathan Harris, an artist and computer scientist known for his projects (like We Feel Fine, I Want You To Want Me, The Whale Hunt, and I Love Your Work) that orchestrate vast amounts of data to experiment with new forms of narrative. He spent two years developing Cowbird at a series of art residencies in Iceland, Oregon, Santa Fe, and Vermont, and in a small beach bungalow in northern California, while documenting his life with one photo a day.

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.

Today, Cowbird is run by a small team, and is totally independent. We have no outside investors, no sponsors, and no advertising. We’re entirely supported by our community, who can choose to become Citizens for $5 a month. We’re grateful for their support.






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P.O. Box 235
Shelburne, VT 05482

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