True Story: New "StoryCorps" App Aims To Preserve Diverse Histories

Since the dawn of mankind, humans have passed down traditions, songs, legends, folklore, family history, and more via the medium of storytelling.  In modern day, transcribed oral histories have lent insight into some of the most important events of recorded time.  Now, a method to preserve these tales for the ages has been made easy in app form.

"That's how much of my intestinal tract the German bomb eviscerated,
but I still bayoneted five of 'em before I passed out."
-"Uh...Dad, weren't you born in Ecuador?  In 1950?"
(Image courtesy lifehacker.com.)



StoryCorps, an organization started in 2003, is at the forefront of cataloging these experiences.  Their mission is to compile as many oral histories as people are willing to offer, and they have already succeeded wildly in this quest.  According to the New York Times, founder David Isay claims the StoryCorps organization already holds “the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered.”

Got a friend who never shuts up?  Here's your chance to make them feel famous.
(Image courtesy imgkid.com.)

Now, your tale can be told as well. Of, if you're boring, there's plenty of space for the interesting folks in your life to leave their audio impression. And all of it achievable by app! Funded by the 2015 TED prize (a million-dollar grant aiding “a leader with a fresh, bold vision for sparking global change”), the system is simple: ask good questions of someone intriguing, record them in a quiet location, and upload for immortalization.


This was more succinct than the "Speak Your Piece" Corps.
(Image courtesy twitter.com.)

Regarding the interviews, blog.TED.com had some helpful hints on how to get the good dirt out of people to farm more fascination. They suggest five main points:


   -Ask BIG, open-ended life questions ("What are you proudest of?", "Why do you continue chasing your dreams against ridiculous odds?", "What was the most important thing that happened to you before you met ME?", etc.)

   -Be attentive. You have two ears and only one mouth...double down on active listening.

   -Keyword: ACTIVE listening. You're flying this chat-plane, make it soar. Although the speaker is the one with the fuel and wings, you both need to care for the engines and passengers.  Pay attention, offer conversation cues, and maintain focus on your subject.

   -It's not the "story" that matters. This is a human being, and their experience is a truth. No need to mine for dirt or drama, just enjoy the expression.

   -SAY THANK YOU. Sharing isn't easy for everyone, and your appreciation is as important as your attention.

So get those skills and stories down! On the app, users can create a profile of their own under which to file interviews, listen to other active users, and browse through the vast StoryCorps archive. Once uploaded, the stories become part of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress (yes, the real Library of Congress. So make sure you say something interesting.) The app is free, and operates on iOS or Android.

Ears Across America?
(Image courtesy jdrucker@wordpress.com.)

What will your big questions be?  What might you want to be asked?  What might be your big answers? The whos, whats, whens, wheres, whys and hows of humanity are just waiting for you to pick them off the vine and distill them into something delicious. “We have this kind of crazy dream of collecting the wisdom of humanity,” Mr. Isay said. 

But is it still crazy if it's so full of words of wisdom?  Can anyone really answer this question?  Wait a moment, first let's sit down and hit record...



"Do you remember what you were thinking that time when I tied you to the train tracks?"
"Well, I had just wondered...wait, what?"
(Image courtesy pixshark.com.)

2 comments: