Friday, May 22, 2015

A Long Pause

I hope you'll excuse my tardiness! Life has been a whirlwind in the past few weeks. I still feel like my head is spinning between countless interviews, having my wisdom teeth pulled out, and an incredible trip to Israel, from which I returned yesterday. And I'll be honest with you, I wouldn't have blogged anything even if I could find any reliable wifi. First of all, you and I know all too well that this is by no means a travel blog (heaven forbid!) and second, I believe in living in the moment. Why tweet a photo of the sunrise when you can just watch it as it happens? It's like the old adage says, 'Be there or be squared".

So now that I am home, I will of course return to the regularly scheduled program. If I had to choose a recurring topic for this blog (again, definitely not travel), I might venture to say that it relates to personal stories people tell and what those stories can tell about their people. If you read between the lines and pay attention to how a person tells a story, you can uncover hidden layers that you may have otherwise missed.

You may be familiar with an app I conceived and designed called Hear & Now. In a nutshell, the app allows users to record stories in their own voice and tense, while other users can listen to these stories only when they are standing in the place where the stories originally occurred. The idea is based on Toronto's best kept walking-tour secret, Murmur Ears. Find a green sign, listen to the story on your phone, and learn more about the area around you.

Now, a new spin on the idea is erupting in Harbord Village. Aptly named StoryPosts, you can find exactly 24 signs dotting the village. They are attached to fences, signposts, and an assortment of other things in the neighbourhood. Similarly to Murmur Ears, these posts comprise a location-based story, recorded in the voice of the person from whom the story originates. The posts contain a QR code, scannable by a smartphone.

The subject matter of the stories is simply teeming with interesting tidbits of history, and varies in tone from lighthearted to serious. Some stories describe racism and prejudice, while others discuss the paradise of a front porch in days before central air conditioning.

Oral histories are incredibly important. In the future, all we will have left from days of old is the stories of our elders. And when they are gone, recordings of their little pieces of histories will be around to remind us of what life was like in their time. I really enjoy these stories, and they feel very personal even though I don't know the storytellers personally.

One last point that I find interesting is something that the interviewer noted. In 150 interviews, many people had a tendency to preface their stories with a warning that the stories didn't have much interest or anything to offer. I strongly disagree. After you listen to some of the stories, I think you will, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment