March 20, 2015

StoryCorps goes global with $1 million TED prize


news_2Since 2003, the oral history project StoryCorps has documented and archived more than 65,000 interviews–“the largest collection of human voices ever recorded.” Nonetheless, it’s still been mostly limited to participants who are in the United States and can access professional StoryCorps equipment and recording booths.

But at a TED talk in Vancouver on Wednesday, founder Dave Isay announced his plan to use a $1 million prize from TED (meant to grant the winner “one wish to change the world”) to build an app that will make it possible for people everywhere to contribute to StoryCorps . . . for free. “Tonight,” he began, “I’m going to make the case that inviting a loved one, a friend or a stranger to record a meaningful interview might just turn out to be one of the most important moments in that person’s life–and in yours.” “It’s about communication . . . It’s about creating a world that listens a little better,” he told reporters.

$400,000 has already gone into the app, which is still in beta and so far just in English, but Isay hopes that they’ll soon be capturing “hundreds of thousands of recordings per year, or even more” from people around the world.

“Together we can create an archive of the wisdom of humanity,” he said.


Taylor Sperry is a former Melville House editor.