I’m a big fan of Jonathan Harris. Ballons of Bhutan, Today and my favorite: We feel fine. His overarching theme is to capture and preserve memories and emotion from life’s most fleeting moments.

Recently, Jonathan Harris released Cowbird, a platform that hopes to unite storytellers in the process of deeply documenting not just their own lives, but the larger overarching sagas around them.

His goal is to offer a platform for the sort of longer, richer and multilayered stories you’re not going to find on your typical social platforms. The site states: “We’re trying to preserve and evolve the dying art of storytelling using technology as friend instead of foe.”


At the moment, the focus of the site is on The Occupy Movement, tapping individual experiences to depict a richer, more meaningful picture of our collective experience. A fascinating experiment.

And, why the name Cowbird? To represent the best attributes of its namesakes: “the slow, deeply rooted contemplative idea of a cow with the fast, efficient playful idea of a bird.”

In a Fast Company article he describes the idea behind the platform: “It wasn’t clear to me how there was going to be another level of compression after tweets, unless we reverted to monosyllabic grunts,” Harris says. “I thought we would hit some kind of wall, bounce back in the other direction, and people would start craving a little more depth.”


“We all have unique experiences and if we don’t pass them on, they evaporate when we die,” Harris says. “If there were a way to embody some of that wisdom so that other people could learn from it, that would allow us to grow on an individual level, but also a species level, from generation to generation.”

By encouraging people to document and catalog these experiences. Cowbird has the potential to become an organic anti-panopticon, capturing the stuff of life that can’t be sufficiently synopsized. Harris is confident that this is something people will want to do. “It’s asking something very different than firing off a tweet from your cell phone,” he says. “It ask a lot more of you as a storyteller, but I think it gives back a lot more too.”

A wonderful project.