last update: January 21, 2004
Folklore.org is a web site devoted to collective historical storytelling. It captures and presents sets of related stories that describe interesting events from multiple perspectives, allowing groups of people to recount their shared history in the form of interlinked anecdotes.
The site is structured as a series of projects containing related, interlinked stories. The stories are indexed by their characters and the topics they cover, and may be sorted by various criteria. Readers can rate the stories, and add comments, or other stories.
Folklore is still incomplete, and undergoing active development. There may be more than the usual amount of bugs, especially if you catch it on a bad day. Please report any problems that you encounter to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Currently, the Folklore site only supports a single project, about the development of the original Macintosh, but that will be changing soon.
Reality is subjective, and memory is shaped by both prior and subsequent experience, so two witnesses of the same incident may disagree about what transpired. Often participants have axes to grind, and they sometimes distort events to suit their needs, perhaps without even realizing it. The best way to see an event clearly is to view it from multiple perspectives.
The Folklore site allows anyone with an opinion to comment on a story, or to submit a story of their own. This should allow the truth to emerge more clearly through the intersection of multiple perspectives. Project editors are responsible for providing default views that eliminate irrelevant or offensive posts, but it's possible for the curious reader to see everything if they want.
Folklore uses lots of relatively short anecdotes rather than a longer, monolithic narrative because anecdotes are inherently modular and extensible, so the story can be elaborated indefinitely by multiple authors, without compromising their individual voices. Interlinked anecdotes also leverage the definitive characteristic of the web, the link, to form little webs of their own, and be stitched into the greater tapestry of the web itself, in a fashion that's not possible on the printed page.
Folklore maintains an RSS feed for tracking the latest stories. The url for the feed is http://www.folklore.org/folklore.xml.
The code behind the Folklore website is a set of CGI scripts written in Python by Andy Hertzfeld. The Folklore scripts are free software, and will be licensed under the GPL, so anyone can use and modify them. Susan Kare helped with lots of images and the overall look of the site.
It seems appropriate to use the web to document the development of computing technologies. Most of the principals involved are still alive and kicking, so it's possible to collect first person accounts from the people involved, if they're willing. I decided to get the ball rolling by using the most important event that I played a part in - the development of Apple's original Macintosh computer - as the subject of the first set of Folklore stories. I hope they are as much fun to read as they were to write.