Things I Know 338 of 365: Every organization should be collecting stories

The broader the ocean of knowledge, the vaster the shores of ignorance.

Christopher Gilbert

The other day, I stumbled on the Harvard Stories project.

The Harvard Stories project offers all members of the Harvard community the opportunity to record, share, and preserve personal stories relating to their experience with the University…and by the end of 2012, the site will allow members of the Harvard community to upload and share their own stories.

When I return to campus, I’ll be stopping by to find out how I can help with the collection of stories from the Harvard community. It also got me thinking about the value of this Story-Corps-esque approach to harvesting institutional memory.

There’s value in any institution creating a space for the collection of stories of members and their histories with the organization.

It’s the evolution of the yearbook. Relaxing the curatorial conditions for inclusion, the space would simply ask members to tell the stories of how they came to understand the mission of the space and their part in that mission.

Perhaps one essential question guides the process. Maybe it’s a list of core values. It could even be a mission statement.

I can’t help wondering at the almanac of identity a school would have after a semester’s worth of story netting.

Think of the information available to a student’s future teachers. Think of the time capsule for future students.

Think of the stories of who we are and how those stories could shape our understanding of that identity.

Surely, there’s a broom closet somewhere that’s waiting to become a story capsule.


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