Way back in the paleolithic web era (1994) on a visit to where I grew up in Baltimore, I made some audio recordings of my grandmother sharing stories of her life. These were recorded on a dictation microcasette, but as she had passed away in 2003, I’ve been very very pleased I captured her voice.

In 2009 I digitized them, sharing audio CDs with my sisters and cousins. I had plans of mixing the audio with photos and other images as video storytelling. I did one 5 minute segment (and dod not county how many hours that took)

but have not returned to the “project” since.

A year or so ago, Barbara Ganley introduced me to a new web audio storytelling platform called TapeWrite. It’s a different take on podcasting in that you can augment recorded audio stories with “cards” place on the timeline, where these cards are photos or short bits of text. On a computer, you get a multimedia experience, and on the mobile device too, but you can also just listen to the audio. You can zip the audio from one card to another (they are like markers), and each card is addressable via a URL

I like the simplicity of the idea, and had a chance to communicate a bit with Borja, the man behind the product. It’s free to publish, and the audio is hosted on the site. It can also be setup to syndicate in audio from another podcast source via that old technology people keep claiming is dead.

So I did a few short experiments… and forgot about it. But I see now and then TapeWrite news coming via their channel in medium… and somewhere in my neuron snappings one night, it dawned on me that publishing my grandmother’s stories in TapeWrite would be easier to produce than editing video.

It’s even easier than I imagines. I decided tonight to record an opening to this series of stories:

And then hah! When I looked at my account, I saw that 8 months ago, I had already done that first segment of Grandma’s stories, so I just went back in and added a few more photos / images:

And over the next few weeks, I have grand plans again to publish the rest of the audio I have been sitting on.

Then I can also do the same for the audio I recorded with my Mom a year before she passed away.

I cannot say how valuable it is to have these recordings of my family. Valuable because I can hear their voices again, but also because they have the record of family stories that grow fuzzier over time. Just last year, listening to these same stories from my grandmother, I uncovered that her husband, my grandfather, actually was a distance learner in the early part of the 20th century.

Do not wait to record your family stories. You will not be sorry!

Top / Featured Image: It’s not much of a challenge to find photos of audio cassettes; I went to my own flickr photos and found this less typical one spotted in East Vancouver as some kind of marker? This is my flickr photo by https://flickr.com/photos/cogdog/15190055683 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca


  1. U make me wanna audio record everything and everyone I love 🙂 thanks for reminding me of TapeWrite. I really should try it!

  2. You really inspired me to go back to some footage I have from June 2015 camping trip with my immediate family to try and make a video of it. I was intimidated exactly because of the storytelling video I got–how to cut and incorporate it, but you sparked an idea about how that might be done, so I have started it.

    In August Peter and I take Mom on a week long trip back into the past up into our old stompin’ grounds in the high Washington Cascades with my dad, and she is already swimming in memory. You remind me to TAKE A FRICKIN TRIPOD, SANDY and capture all the vid I can…then not to be afraid to figure out how to cut it.

    This is essential legacy work; thanks for the strale!

  3. Thanks for this. The pointer to TapeWrite, of course, but more the reminder that it’s a really good idea to record and gather information about family. So much of mine is forever lost.

  4. What great advice to record your family. When a family member starts sharing a story, I sometimes put my iPhone on the table and start recording. 🙂

    Also, on my honeymoon last year in Paris, after we would leave a certain destination, I would video record my wife with her reactions and thoughts. We like to think that we would write down our memories on paper, but it’s hard to find the time to do that. Instead, we found it much easier to just record right at the moment and retell the story of that particular location. Years from now, I’m going to be so grateful. I’m actually very grateful now! I should start doing this sort of video recording with my family.

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