This website is an initiative of J-Lab.

Who's Blogging

Karyn Lu

KARYN LU works in the Design Experience Group at, and is the User Experience Lead on, CNN's citizen news initiative. She is passionate about creating a great user experience across multiple disciplines and platforms.

Lila King

LILA KING is an online media producer living in Atlanta. She's pretty sure everyone's story is fascinating if you listen well enough. Echo is all ears.

Click for full bios.

Project Blog: Echo

This public art and civic journalism project will produce and collect stories tied to physical locations throughout Atlanta. Signs with Echo phone number and location ID will invite pedestrians and cyclists to access a story about that site via cell phone, podcast or the Web. “When a space becomes inscribed with cultural or personal stories, it transforms into a place of significance,” said project leaders Lila King and Karyn Lu, movers behind CNN’s user-generated site Follow their progress here. Visit their website.

Back to business

Monday, September 22, 2008

We laid low for a couple of weeks while we worked like crazy at our day jobs and did some lovely traveling (Seattle and fabulous Brazil), but last week Echo was back in full force.

The first order of business is a massive flowchart for the voice xml system that will power the mobile phone element of Echo. It gave us a new respect for those automated customer service lines (press “1” to get some help already, “2” to hear these options again ...). Our idea is fairly simple - hear a story or leave one - but thinking through all the options, and then mapping them out in a way that wouldn’t be completely confusing to someone standing on a street corner with a cell phone is anything but. We feel good about where we landed, though, and made an important decision in the process. We’re going to organize Echo stories around two main principles: neighborhood and emotion. More on that coming soon.

Also, we met an incredible woman at a little gift shop in Candler Park, very near where we started the Echo pilot program. It turns out that she’s the local neighborhood historian, the woman who spends her days running a gift shop and her nights poring over old letters at the Hargrett Rare Book Library at the University of Georgia. She’s kindly promised to give us and our tape recorder a walking tour of the neighborhood. We’ll try to set that up this week, and hope to have our first batch of pilot-ready stories for our first neighborhood shortly after.

   • Posted by Lila King on 09/22 at 01:48 PM

Echo updates

Monday, September 08, 2008

Lila’s husband Brennan has found the perfect quote to capture the spirit of Echo, and we wanted to share it with everyone:

From Toni Morrison’s Beloved:

“I was talking about time. It’s so hard for me to believe in it. Some things go, pass on. Some things just stay. I used to think it was my rememory. You know. Some things you forget. Other things you never do. But it’s not. Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it’s gone, but the place-the picture of it-stays, and not just in my rememory, but out there, in the world. What I remember is a picture floating around out there outside my head. I mean, even if I don’t think it, even if I die, the picture of what I did, or knew, or saw is still out there. Right in the place where it happened.”

“Can other people see it?” asked Denver.

“Oh, yes. Oh, yes, yes, yes. Someday you will be walking down the road and you hear something or see something going on. So clear. And you think it’s you thinking it up. A thought picture. But no. It’s when you bump into a rememory that belongs to somebody else. Where I was before I came here, that place is real. It’s never going away. Even if the whole farm-every tree and grass blade of it dies. The picture is still there and what’s more, if you go there-you who never was there-if you go there and stand in the place where it was, it will happen again; it will be there for you, waiting for you. So, Denver, you can’t never go there. Never. Because even though it’s all over-over and done with-it’s going to always be there waiting for you. That’s how come I had to get all my children out. No matter what.”

“If it’s still there, waiting, that must mean that nothing ever dies.”

Sethe looked right in Denver’s face. “Nothing ever does,” she said.


In other news, our night of interviewing in Lake Claire was absolutely amazing. We could have easily spent a year listening to stories from the wonderful people of that community. We’ve been busy transcribing and editing down hours of audio files. Listen to a sneak preview here - this story involving a rogue pony is one of our favorites from that evening. Thanks to everyone who spent some time chatting with us!

Finally, we also had the opportunity to chat with Mark Glaser from the MediaShift blog recently. Check out our interview here.

   • Posted by Karyn Lu on 09/08 at 11:38 AM