Presenting the Past, One Person at a Time

Last year, I wrote a post about, which allows users to record and present “location-based” stories online. A few weeks later, another location-based site launched: There, users can post audio stories AND photos, videos, and text to a location on a map, as well as create collections and tours. For instance, check out this neighborhood tour created by the San Francisco MTA Archives. Don’t miss the fade-out tool in the right-hand sidebar, which allows you to see the modern-day photograph as well as the historic image of the same location. Impressive.

But if you want to share stories based around people, not places, these tools are less useful.

Earlier this month, a librarian drew some well-deserved media attention for creating Facebook profiles for two students from the 1910s. Unfortunately, the profiles also violated Facebook’s terms of service (and now seem to have been removed, probably due to all the attention).

So how can institutions easily share stories based around people and families? More importantly, how can we share these stories on platforms that already have a built-in audience?

One possibility may be Its users can post images and stories, create digital family trees, and comment on their own and others’ content. And users can do it all using their Facebook profiles, theoretically connecting one social network with another.

With “memories” in the site’s name, it’s not surprising that much of the current content seems to date to the last 50 years or so. But I don’t see any technical limitations on posting older images and content. The site also offers an app that allows you to digitize photographs using your iPhone. (Lacking the requisite iPhone to test out the app, I can’t tell you much about how it works or what kind of images it produces.)

I’ll be watching to see whether any cultural institutions decide to give it a try.