Cowbird – A Different Kind of Social Network
"It’s the role of the artist to remind us of those parts of ourselves we’ve forgotten, and in the digital space, there’s no one better qualified than Jonathan Harris. He "creates projects that reimagine how humans relate to technology and to each other." With Cowbird, he offers us a new kind of social network – one that’s better than most others at connecting people in a meaningful way, around personal stories and poems (fictional and non), each accompanied by a stunning, supersized image that float-scrolls as you move the cursor across it. Cowbird also allows people build collections of their own and other people’s stories by theme.
The effect is powerfully intimate, like reading someone else’s diary without the sense of ickiness that would entail. Spending 10 minutes on the site in the middle of a busy work day has an effect similar to that of taking a walk in the park; it allows the mind to unravel a bit, to transcend obsessive patterns of thought.
This is not just artsy metaphysics. Our best neuroscience suggests that we need this kind of cognitive relief from the relentless pace of the modern world. That without it, we're unable to do the kind of fluid, creative thinking our lives and professions demand.
Cowbird isn’t likely – or designed – to replace the dominant social networks, but at a time when Facebook's dominance of social networking seems almost unchallenged, when it's easy to think that this is the only possible way to live online, Cowbird is a keen reminder of the limitations of these tools, and of our own complexity."