Cowbird.com: A place for stories

Lacey Mason, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – After two weeks to allow Superstorm Sandy and the 2012 presidential election the attention they deserved, Website of the Week is back at it.

And with all the stories borne out of the big news, a website about stories seemed the perfect fit.

Cowbird is a place to tell those stories. Big or small – Cowbird wants to hear them. The site has the look of Pinterest with the feel of PostSecret.

With the stories users submit, Cowbird finds connections with other stories in an effort to create a “vast, interconnected ecosystem, in which we all take part.”

The goal, according to Cowbird, is to create a library of human experience. But one question that I had, and apparently others had too, was: How is this different from other social networks?

Cowbird says it’s interested in long-lasting expression that isn’t found elsewhere on the Web. It’s a nice sentiment, of course, but easily copied. If this cool idea catches on, it won’t be long before other sites evolve.

After you sign up, posting a story is simple. Users just click the prominently featured “Tell a story” button and get started. Writers can add text, photos and even sound – but no video.

Most stories can contain just one photo, one page of text and sound. “Cowbird Citizens,” who pay $5 a month, have more options – but this fee seems to take a little something away from Cowbird’s mostly genuine feel. It’s understandable that they need to pay the bills, but it takes away from the “je ne sais quoi” of “We just want to tell stories!”

Also, before you look for it, Cowbird doesn’t have an app. While many suggest apps are the future of the Internet, Cowbird believes they’re “destined for obsolescence – they’ll be the CD-Roms of tomorrow.”

Still, the beauty of Cowbird is its simplicity. There are no pop-up ads. The design is the same for every story. The focus is on telling a story, not looking cool. While I was initially “iffy” about its decision to not include embedded video, it works for what Cowbird is trying to accomplish.

And if you’re worried about others taking what you create, Cowbird users can select “Creative Commons” options to control how their work can be shared.

So, do you have a story to tell? Want to get something off your chest? Or maybe just sit and read something other than your Facebook feed? Take a gander at Cowbird and see where you end up.

Follow @LaceyWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)