jonathan harris

jonathan harris bw

[brooklyn, ny]

intro’d to Jonathan here:

navigating stuckness

I pumped out project after project visualizing different data sets, pairing each project with a bombastic artist statement about how the work revealed insights about humanity that had previously been hidden.

There was We Feel Fine (a search engine for human emotions), Universe (a system for deducing new constellations for the night sky), I Want You To Want Me (a study of online dating), Lovelines (a portrait of love and hate), 10×10 (a distillation of global media coverage), Phylotaxis (a visualization of science news), and Wordcount (an exploration of language).

I was full of pithy insights about human emotion to spout at cocktail parties, but I started to notice that my data-based insights did very little to help my actual relationships. I began to grow suspicious of data. My insights felt increasingly superficial, and though they made me sound clever and witty, they didn’t do much to help me be kind. The world’s love affair with data was just heating up, but mine was cooling down.

My mind was completely inside the machine, and I’d never felt more alienated from other human beings. …… The show went up, there was a big party, and then people basically went back to their lives.

The project took on a performative quality; I found myself intentionally hunting down interesting situations, just so I could write about them that evening.

how to leave a trail.. ness.. without paying attention to the leaving a trail.. echo chamber of sorts

I began to feel like a spectator to my own life, unsure whether to document it or simply to live it.

I set out to create Cowbird, a storytelling platform for anyone to use. My dream was to build the world’s first public library of human experience — a kind of Wikipedia for everyday life. After making so many projects for people to look at, I wanted to make something for people to use.

As Annie Dillard reminds us, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

setting people free to choose that.. ness

If you’re lucky enough to know what brings you bliss, then do that thing at once. If you do it well, and for long enough, the world will find ways to repay you.

the thing you can’t not do ness

don't ask yourself


The Web’s secret stories

ted 2007

Jonathan Harris wants to make sense of the emotional world of the Web. With deep compassion for the human condition, his projects troll the Internet to find out what we’re all feeling and looking for.

Artist and computer scientist Jonathan Harris makes online art that captures the world’s expression — and gives us a glimpse of the soul of the Internet.

we feel fine:

we feel fine

passive observation.. 

because of that end up getting sincere, candid responses

the app ness


can click anything in universe and have it be the center of the universe

the brain ness


Different Ways of Looking

Published on Aug 3, 2012

Jonathan Harris at CreativeMornings New York. Join the conversation and learn more at

myth of consistency

sketchbook – never had that feeling on the internet – the slow creation of something that increases in beauty over time

focus instruments properly

the more you document yourself – you step out of those moments – step out of your life.. feel disconnected..

a prisoner of self-documentation…

building a tool that people can use everyday

4 shifting forces: 

compression – communication shorter (pre dates internet) is there another level of compression after tweeting..  [deepening]

– how about 24/7 ness? ginormously smallness

disposability – things have very short half lives..   [timelessness]

curation replacing creation –   creations

self-promotion – we’re all living our lives as advertisements    [self-reflection]

dang – talk to self. ness.

how to design software so as not to take over people’s lives

human attention is a finite resource

it’s important because we’ll soon be merging with machines.. important to get it right with software – staging ground for future..

cowbird.. trying to counter trends.. – decided to keep it a small labor of love..


find/follow Jonathan:

link twitter

his site:

jonathan number 27 site

and cowbird…

back to life (cowbird will be only read only after march 1 2017)


resonating with idea behind…

wear able ness