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Patricia Martin

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Cowbird: A New Cultural Force on the Internet

Posted: 02/16/2012 4:54 pm

Since 2008, I've been keeping an eye on Jonathan Harris. He's a renaissance man for a new century: artist, computer scientist, visionary. He caught my attention with his mind-blowing show at MOMA -- I Want You To Want Me, done in collaboration with Sep Kamvar, which took the pulse of the world's emotional state.

With his latest social media foray, Cowbird.com, Harris is poised to become a cultural force on the Internet.

Cowbird is an online community of storytellers who use photos, audio clips and words to convey a brief, personal story. It has the addictive usability of Pinterest, with a soulful subtext that allows people to witness and connect through themes and stories. Harris describes it as a "Public library of human experience."

It's a good analogy. Maybe that's what gives Cowbird such a serene vibe. It feels like hanging out in the stacks, looking and reading to your heart's content.

Already the site contains thousands of stories from around the world. Its community connection design is fluid, allowing people to search, click, love and refer with ease.

I encourage you to experience it. Although, you'll need to request an invitation. Nothing heavy-handed, mind you, but a simply request to participate.

That's also an important twist on social media. Cowbird is an intentional community. It seeks to set a tone, rather than swing for the fences and build a super-sized audience of yakkers. (Really, there are days when Twitter gives me a headache!)

Cowbird is about quality and substance. A rare bird, indeed.

 
 
 

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