Cowbird

  • Jonathan Harris
  • United States
  • 2011
  • Immersive
  • Jonathan Harris Retrospective, DocLab Program
"The free public library of human experience"—this is what Jonathan Harris sought to create with Cowbird. The platform offers its users—which it calls "citizens"—the opportunity to tell their life stories, usually in a fixed format: a photograph accompanied by a short text. But there are also different formats, such as audio stories and visual essays. You can browse them by subject, where they were written and by whom, but you can also leave your choice up to chance. Following the launch of the site on Valentine’s Day in 2012, Cowbird offered its more than 14,000 users a place for a deeper, longer-lasting kind of self-expression than we tend to find on Facebook. These are the kinds of stories that will continue to resonate 50 years from now. Five years and 88,551 stories later, Harris decided to call it a day. On March 1, 2017, Cowbird was closed down. The current site is a story archive that can no longer be added to, but where visitors can still linger for hours on end.

Credits

  • color / black and white
Director
Jonathan Harris
Editing
Annie Correal
Developer
Dave Lauer

IDFA history

2017
Screened
Jonathan Harris Retrospective
DocLab Program
2012
European Premiere
IDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Storytelling
DocLab Program

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IDFA history

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