Everybody has a story to tell, but not everyone has it within themselves to write a book. So a French start-up company has created a device to help folks tell their stories. It is a short story machine.
The machine, which is popping up at airports, cafes, and libraries around the world distributes short stories submitted by ordinary people from within the community. Subject to a few rules on content, anyone can submit their story and have it available to the public at the touch of a button.
The company vets the stories submitted by length, topic, and style and then loads them onto the machine. Someone who is looking for a quick read can choose the type of story they want, of the length they want, and a story will be printed on a long strip of paper like a cash register receipt. The paper can then be discarded when one is through reading the story.
While the machine was developed to aid people pass the time while waiting for someone or something, I think it has great potential as a community development tool. Imagine being able to read the individual stories of other folks just like you within your community, whether you actually know them or not!
We unfortunately live in a society where many people are more connected to their electronic devices than they are to their families and neighbours. The short story machine gives us a unique opportunity to learn something about others from their stories and to share something with them through our own stories. That's a great building block towards community.
I'm not sure if we'll ever see a short story machine in our local area, but I know we all have our stories that we could and should share with others.
And we really don't need a machine to help us share them if we really want to.
Frank Likely is a retired Anglican minister who lives in Springhill