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How is The Silent History structured?

The story is presented in two forms: Testimonials and Field Reports.

Testimonials are presented in the form of oral histories told by characters directly affected by the condition — parents, teachers, doctors, cult leaders, faith healers, and government officials, with unexpected intersections and unifying narratives. The 120 Testimonials provide the central backbone of the story.

The Field Reports are short, site-specific accounts that deepen and expand the central narrative, written and edited in collaboration with the readers of the Testimonials. To access and comprehend a Field Report, the reader must be physically present in the location where the Report is set. Reports are deeply entwined with the particularities of their specific physical environments — the stains on the sidewalk, the view between the branches, a strangely ornate bannister, etc — so that the text and the actual setting support and enhance each other. Each of these reports can be read on its own, but they all interrelate and cohere within the larger narrative.

Wasn’t this originally serialized?

Yes, the Testimonials were released one per weekday, starting on October 1, 2012, and completing on April 19, 2013.


Can I read the Field Reports without being at the location?

No — the reports are available only while your device’s GPS matches the coordinates of the location. Only by combining the text of the report with the details of the setting can you fully comprehend the events described within.

How close do I need to be to the specific location?

Generally, the report should become available when you are within 10 meters of the specified location. However, in most cases your experience will be improved if you can get even closer to the pin’s precise placement.

Something seemed wrong about my Field Report experience; who can I tell?

Please email us.

Are the Field Reports necessary for enjoying the central narrative?

No. The Testimonials function as an entirely self-contained, fully-realized narrative, roughly the length of a 500-page book. The Field Reports are designed for readers who would like to explore the phenomenon in more depth or breadth. No single reader will be able to visit all the reports, and many people will choose to focus primarily on the Testimonials.

Can I write my own Field Reports?

Definitely — we are relying on new reporters to help expand our archive, especially in underrepresented neighborhoods or cities. For more info, please refer to the Field Reporter option within the app settings.

There are no Field Reports near me; I feel sad.

Please turn that sadness into a solution: we are counting on new Field Reporters to dramatically fill the map over the coming months. Also, one groundbreaking reporter in an empty region can help inspire other potential reporters to do the same, sparking unexpected outbreaks in previously barren cities.

Will more Field Reports be added as the History progresses?

Yes, new reports are being added frequently.


Can I read Testimonials without a data connection?

Yes. The app requires a data connection the first time it’s run and for making in-app purchases, but after this Testimonials can be read offline.

Can I read the Field Reports without a data connection?

Yes, as long as your device is able to accurately establish your location (represented by the blue dot). Note that Wi-Fi-only iPads do not have full GPS capabilities, so accurate location-tracking may prove difficult in some situations when using such a device.

New map tiles cannot load without a data connection, but they are automatically cached for offline use — so, if you’re planning to travel to a location where you won’t have data access, we recommended exploring that portion of the map beforehand so that the tiles will be pre-loaded when you arrive.

I have multiple iOS devices and plan to use my iPad for reading Testimonials and my iPhone for exploring Field Reports. Will this cause problems?

The Silent History will synchronize your reading progress and other settings across all your devices via iCloud. You are free to swap between them as often as you like. This is enabled by default.

What if my question is not answered here or I have found a bug?

Please email us using the Email Support option in the app settings; this will append useful debugging information to your mail, which will help us solve your problem.

Who made this?

The project is a collaboration between Eli Horowitz (former managing editor and publisher of McSweeney’s), Kevin Moffett (author of Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events and Permanent Visitors), Matthew Derby (author of Super Flat Times), Russell Quinn (co-founder of digital studio Spoiled Milk), and contributors on five continents.