Last year I did a story in cafeTechnos on the Museum of the Person in Brazil which is a group creating a webbed historical archive of the lives of both the common and uncommon all over Brazil. At the same time I was flying to Brazil I heard of a new project just forming, Canadian Film Centre's Great Canadian Story Engine. At the time they had a little money and were scrambling to see if they could find additional money to build the storyEngine in cyberspace and also outfit a StoryMobile to gather stories from all across Canada. This summer I was back in Toronto and the StoryEngine is gassed and rolling so I decided to take a peak at a few of the folks and organization who came together to create the StoryEngine.

In a nutshell the Canadian Film Centre's Great Canadian Story Engine (GCSE) is a bilingual website where Canadians are telling their uncensored collective histories which have shaped Canada over the past 100 years. The project grew out of the Bell H@bitat, a new media incubator, housed within the Canadian Film Centre.

The storyEngine is a little like the oriental parable of the elephant surrounded by five blind men each trying to describe the elephant based upon what they can touch: the trunk, the tail, the legs, etc. All the descriptions are true but limited. The storyEngine is a big idea so I decided to interview two of the main participants in the development of the StoryEngine. Below you have your choice of following Kate Halpenny, the producer of the storyEngine or Kato Wake, creative cirector and one of the initial conceptualizers of the storyEngine who also designed the complete look and feel of the project from posters and web design to both the inside and outside design of a 30 foot air stream trailer which is the storyMobile.

Thom: How did the Great Canadian StoryEngine (GCSE) make the leap from just one of many development projects at Bell h@bitat at the Canadian Film Centre to a project with a couple of million dollars in funding and international exposure?

Kate: The timing was right. Three years ago this was a very forward thinking project but even now it is still difficult to explain the idea to the public. The project by itself stood out as an exceptional idea not just as a project but in terms of the time we are in right now with the development of the internet and peoples interests in the internet. The project also fit in with the mandate...
Thom: Where did the storyEngine idea come from?

Kato: The storyEngine Story was developed in about 6 weeks by 5 of us, all students in the first class of the Bell h@bitat at the Canadian Film Centre in Toronto. Initially the group was Rand Ardell, Jason Cliff, Rena Dempsey, Tessa Spoul and myself, Kato Wake. One of us was a programmer, one a marketing/designer, myself I was a graphic designer, one a creative writer, and one a technical writer.

Our goal was a project which reached out...