From a July Fourth fireworks celebration to the moon landing to 9/11, events experienced together create a shared bond. The account of those events get told again and again, and never the same way twice, by those who lived it. Stories have always evolved this way, from the Iliad to the assassination of President Lincoln, and these stories have always bound nations and peoples together. Today, though, online and mobile platforms, combined with a diverse and amplified media environment, have allowed everyday people to capture these experiences and share them with an audience on a scale never before possible, turning almost anyone into a potential generator of content. At the same time, other new technological platforms are giving professional storytellers—journalists, curators, artists, graphic designers, and others—more power than ever to harness those stories to create a larger, cohesive narrative. That act of harnessing and shaping many disparate individual narratives into something greater than the sum of its parts is what collaborative storytelling is. Collaborative storytelling, in turn, can become the foundation for an entirely new kind of interpretive experience like the one Jake Barton and his colleagues at Local Projects have created for the National September 11 Museum and Memorial in New York City.
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