A site about how community groups and charities can make the most of data and open data to do something useful. Focused on Birmingham, relevant everywhere.

Creating a murmur


Murmur is a project which started in Toronto.

They call it a ‘documentary oral history project which records stories and memories told about specific geographic lcoations’ – which doesn’t really capture what it is. People record an audio of themselves talking anecdotally about a location – and these lcoations tend not to be those featured on tour buses and guides – but smaller details of a city which are usually overlooked. They tell a story about the place, what it means to them and what they know about its history, and what it means in their history.

These soundbites are all plotted on a map on the murmur website – but also a little murmur card is stuck on the location – allowing people walking around the city to rung a number and listen to the story about that particular site. What makes murmur a unique way of telling local stories rather than a local’s guide to the city is this:

Some stories suggest that the listener walk around, following a certain path through a place, while others allow a person to wander with both their feet and their gaze.The stories we record range from personal recollections to more “historic” stories, or sometimes both — but always are told from a personal point of view, as if the storyteller is just out for a stroll and was casually talking about their neighbourhood to a friend.

It’s history from the ground up, told by the voices that are often overlooked when the stories of cities are told. We know about the skyscrapers, sports stadiums and landmarks, but [murmur] looks for the intimate, neighbourhood-level voices that tell the day-to-day stories that make up a city. The smallest, greyest or most nondescript building can be transformed by the stories that live in it. Once heard, these stories can change the way people think about that place and the city at large.

I particularly like this one from Edinburgh. Now they have a murmur site for São Paulo, Dublin and Vancouver. Could we do something similar in Birmingham too?

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>