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“App: The Human Story” Documentary Wants to Capture the Story of Apps and App Creators

Launched by Story & Pixel on Kickstarter today, “App: The Human Story” is a documentary based on a theme that’s extremely dear to me and, I believe, to MacStories’ readers: the story of apps and their cultural impact over the past seven years.

By highlighting what “it means to be human in a world of technology”, the documentary doesn’t simply want to focus on the evolution of the App Store and iOS devices – rather, Story & Pixel (who are Jake Schumacher and Jedidiah Hurt, with Adam Lisagor as executive producer) aim to document the human effort, the stories, and the voice of people who craft software. And not just any computer software, but the cultural and economic phenomenon of the decade – the app.

From the Kickstarter page:

With the advances in mobile computing over the past decade, software applications have captured the attention of the globe. Although some apps seem trivial and inconsequential, the details of our software say a lot about who we are as humans. Apps have changed how we live our lives and they will undoubtedly shape our future.

Just as apps have made their way to the world stage, a small community of developers has emerged as modern day artisans. Their obsession over the details of every interaction and pixel has given these unlikely leaders a voice in shaping software in a way that respects what it means to be human.

To achieve their goal, Story & Pixel have been working for the past year on assembling a cast of interviewees that include John Gruber, Marco Arment, Björn Jeffery, Jean MacDonald, Lisa Bettany, Craig Hockenberry, and many more. Story & Pixel want to document the individual stories of popular and lesser-known artists and entrepreneurs, and they have set up a series of rewards for different tiers of Kickstarter pledges. They are seeking to raise $100,000 in 30 days.

I believe this is a project that matters because the stories of people behind apps go largely unnoticed. Covering the details and stories of apps has always been one of my personal motivations behind this site, but a blog can only do so much to expose the general public to what it means to be an app maker. As I wrote in The Power of Apps:

But Apple knows that, alongside the big name companies and game publishers, there are hundreds of genuine good stories about people whose life hasn’t simply been made more enjoyable by Angry Birds, but deeply transformed by powerful, groundbreaking apps. The stories worth telling. The ones that, as Jobs said three years ago, help you get out of bed in the morning and go to work. The problems that you wish would never touch your kid or a loved one but that, unfortunately, sometimes do. The sense of meaningful achievement in seeing your app impacting people’s lives in positive ways. How, thanks to modern technologies and several other choices made over the years, some of those problems can be alleviated, if not completely solved.

And in 365 Days:

Sometimes, on days like today, I like to appreciate the simple things of my job. The fact that somebody out there has made an app that lets me cringe at my mistakes and cherish old moments. The fact that in this very moment I can take these old photos, and send them to my parents with a comment that says, “365 days ago…how things change”.

And here’s Craig Hockenberry, writing about the project today:

By funding this project, you’re also giving your future self a rare gift. I was a young developer when the Mac was announced in 1984, and let me assure you that many of the details of that time have been lost over the course of thirty years. You’re going to look back at this time in your career fondly and wish you remembered more about it.

Most people think that apps simply “exist” on the App Store. They don’t care about in-depth reviews and they assume that people who make apps work at Apple or Google. And yet so many people’s lives have been positively impacted by apps, which were made by other people who had an idea and made it happen.

That’s a story worth telling, and it seems like Story & Pixel are making a great film out of it. I highly recommend checking out their Kickstarter page.

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