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The back story.

September 22, 2010

Posted by Jimmy

People love stories. It's our most primal form of communication. Religion is the story that explains the unfathomable. Too often history is the story of the winners. Ever see a great business presentation? Probably not. They're so few. But if you ever did, chances are it was structured in narrative form, not power point. Great teachers tell stories. The bad ones lecture.

Objects, too, can tell stories. In fact, most of our most cherished belongings are important only because of the story. The china grandma insisted on carting over from Europe. Your father's pocket knife. The clay ashtray your kid made. Without the story, just stuff. A research firm in England recently recorded the back stories of dozens of articles being donated to a thrift store. Then they let shoppers read those stories. The objects with stories were quickly gobbled up.

There's also a site called, where you can record a story about an object or a video and embed it in a bar code (QR code) that you can place on the object. Anyone with a properly equipped smart phone can point it at the bar code and learn the back story.

Of course, the clothes Rique makes each tell a story, and you don't even need a smart phone to read them. We call them the back story, and most of the pieces on do-overclothes have one you can read just under the product.

That's one of the cool things about upcycling. You often get a story as an added bonus to getting something that's greener and most often handmade or at least not mass produced. If you want to read more about the back story, check out this article from the NY Times, which my friend Edwige was kind enough to share.