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  • We are really pleased to introduce you to Cowbird, which, after 2+ years of work and 145,000+ lines of code, is finally ready to hatch.

    Cowbird is a small community of storytellers, sharing heartfelt personal stories.

    We are focused on a slower kind of storytelling than the frantic world of tweets and social networks. We use these tools (they are part of our consciousness now) but we also feel a craving for a longer-lasting kind of self-expression, so we have designed a space for self-reflection and deeper connection — a place for personal stories. Stories allow us to untangle experience, make sense of our lives, and find meaning. They are containers for wisdom and lifeboats for memory — helping us not to forget, and then later, not to be forgotten.

    Cowbird makes it easy for anyone to tell beautiful stories — incorporating text, photography, sound, maps, topics, timelines, characters, roles, and dedications — as you keep a diary of your life.

    Cowbird is also pioneering a new form of participatory journalism, allowing people all over the world to collaborate in chronicling the overarching “sagas” that shape our lives today.

    Sagas are things that touch millions of lives and shape the human story — things like the Japanese earthquake, the war in Iraq, the Arab Spring, and the Occupy Wall Street movement (our first saga). Sagas not only occur in the news, but also in the hearts and minds and homes and heads of everyone alive. They are things we all experience, and things we all can feel, but they are big and loose and messy, so they’re hard to talk about and understand. Journalists, novelists, sociologists, and artists do their best to communicate sagas, but their accounts always suffer from the problem of a single perspective. The real story of a saga is the story of every single person involved in the saga, but it’s never been possible to tell that kind of story. Until now.

    Cowbird allows anyone alive to collaborate in chronicling sagas, giving shape to amorphous events, humanizing the news, and documenting history as it unfolds. As the mainstream media becomes increasingly out of touch with the chaotic, quickly changing, networked, and decentralized world of today, this personal and participatory approach could suggest a more resonant way of understanding our world and telling its stories.

    Over time, we hope to build a kind of public library for human experience, containing the stories and memories of millions of people from all over the world, so the knowledge and wisdom we accumulate as individuals may live on as part of the commons, available for this and future generations to look to for guidance.

    It’s a big and earnest vision, and what we have today is something very small and humble, but we hope that you will join us, and that with your help, we may bring this vision to life.

    Jonathan Harris
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