Hi! I’m Connor Tomas O’Brien and I’m taking over from Stella Young as Digital Writer in Residence for the first half of November (!!!). A tiny bit about me: I’m a technology writer, director of the Digital Writers’ Festival, and designer of Voiceworks magazine.
I’m most interested in the way that memory works in the online space, and my first project for this residency plays around with this. With A Story of You, I want to create an environment in which a complete stranger attempts to tell your life story. How little do we really need to know about one another before we feel we feel as though they’re not strangers anymore?
Here’s how it works: starting today (November 6, 2014), you can sign up at the A Story of You landing page. All you need to share is your email address and your first name. Once we hit fifty participants, applications will close.
Strangers will be paired, and asked to share only 2 personal photographs and 2 status updates. Using that very limited information, you’ll be asked to write short biographies (250 – 500 words) about your partner (who will remain, with the exception of the photos and updates, anonymous). Once both biographies have been written, they’ll be forwarded to each stranger.
What’s the point?
The goal with this project is to enable participants to reflect on how much of “themselves” is present in each piece of content they share online. How much can you tell about somebody with only four tiny snippets from their overall online presence? How much do we give away about ourselves every time we share? I’m also interested in the creation of intimate spaces online. Too often, we find ourselves trapped in filter bubbles, and services that allow us to escape those bubbles to meet strangers tend to be abused by spammers (that won’t be an issue, here – all communication between participants will be vetted by me).
In planning this project out, I’ve been heavily influenced by Miranda July’s We Think Alone email project and Michael Kimball’s ‘Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard)‘.