StoryCorps to create audio timelines of people with 1M dollar TED prize

StoryCorps won a million dollar TED prize that means the company was able to officially launch a mobile app. While many might think that this was a simplistic move, it couldn’t be anything but simple. In truth, StoryCorps delivers something that is truly remarkable. It gives every person a true voice.

David Isay founded StoryCorps a little more than a decade ago, and the company has grown to house 80 employees and operate on a yearly budget of $10 million. While that might seem large, the company is anything but large. It’s tiny, and, that is just how it aims to be. Isay himself is an award-winning journalist and owns six Peabody Awards. He famously said in a Ted talk that, “No one comes to StoryCorps to get rich or to get famous.”


StoryCorps allows anyone to be interviewed. It allows family members to interview other individuals, and it allows them to share something with future generations that hasn’t ever been branded in this way. The recordings are ultimately saved, stored, and can be accessed, creating one of the richest and truest editions of human documentation.

While the fundamental brilliance behind giving the average person the platform to be interviewed, and having their voice stored in the history forever speaks to what Isay has been all about over the course of the last decade. Now though, his company is at a crossroads. There is no financial implication of his next move, at least not one that will damage what his company has become.

However, it’s become clear that there is a ton of potential. That potential starts with what could be the inclusion of text. Converting all of the audio interviews to text would mean that a physical database, unlike anything that has ever been seen before would be created. No longer reliant on audio, it would allow anyone to search, find, and itemize everything that was ever discussed within StoryCorps.

It could be the thing that propels the company into the next tier of human documentation. Documenting life, and understanding the generations before us is something that hasn’t ever been more focused on than it is today in 2015. Users of networks like Facebook or Twitter are essentially creating timelines of their life, which will ultimately serve as a memorial to their existence 50 or more years from now. This is where the opportunity resides for StoryCorps, and it would be a great service if the company were able to make text, an option for the life documentation that takes place with StoryCorps.