The digital technology has transformed the way narratives are created and consumed, from simply moving story-worlds and images to complex digital multi-branched and long-form story experiences. Also, the blockchain technology has revolutionized the global financial system. As a globally visible and collaboratively compiled list of transactions, which have been executed within a specific system, the blockchain technology promotes decentralization of currencies and represents a platform that can be utilized creatively. There are already several examples for utilization of the blockchain technology in fields that extend beyond the realm of money and financial transactions including decentralization of website domain names via Namecoin , marketing of contemporary artworks via Monegraph and social networking via Steemit and Synero.
Via framing the key concepts of the blockchain technology along with past and present narration practices, a group of researchers published an article that raised questions regarding how the implementation of the decentralized ledger technology can be utilized in contemporary writing practices: Can we envision stories as currencies or value systems? They presented three experiments that focused on several fundamental principles of the blockchain technology, and bitcoin, as an exemplification of an application relying on the public ledger technology, which are (1) the ledger, (2) the blocks and (2) the mining process. Each experiment was intentionally formulated to be extremely accessible to participate in and all 3 experiments were conducted in the form of discrete workshops with different groups of participants. Participants included a group of design students, design professionals along with writing and interaction design academics. Each of the three experiments raised a distinct group of reflections and questions regarding the nature of digital, narratives’ linearity and collaborative processes.
Can The Blockchain Technology Be Used In Contemporary Writing?
The researchers delved into the blockchain’s main principles as a conceptual technology. Deploying a hands-on designedly approach, while utilizing creative activities, which simplify the expected technical complexities, they experimented the usage of three core concepts with a large number of creative technologists and practitioners, ranging from those who know nothing about bitcoin, or the blockchain technology in general, to highly professional designers and cryptocurrency developers. The concept that underlined these experiments was the assumption that a story can be considered as a currency, as it has value that fluctuates according to its level of distribution or penetration and its social influence.
These experiments were inspired by the blockchain technology, opening the door for new possibilities rather than presenting a group of findings or examining the hypothesis. Bitcoin implementation is itself an ever evolving experiments and Satoshi Nakamoto’s blockchain and mining protocols represent a revolutionary decentralized financial system. Bitcoin and the blockchain technology offer new possibilities, not only for the global monetary system, but also for conceptualization of the meaning of digital objects in general. The story underlying stories has usually been greatly affected by the media outlets broadcasting it, via the physicality of audiences, printed word, illuminated manuscripts and/or online global distribution.
The three experiments and workshops provided a glimpse into how the blockchain technology can offer unique innovative opportunities to discover how storytelling can adapt as the distributed ledger technology becomes an integral part of how we read, write and narrate stories. The process of pinpointing analogies between cryptocurrencies and contemporary writing projects presents an innovative way to envision value and our way of assessing it. It is inarguable that the blockchain technology has the potential to markedly transform the propagation, distribution and promotion of stories. The blockchain’s principle of unequivocal time stamping will definitely present attractive implications for the way archival data can be revealed and although this presents a myriad of creative opportunities for contemporary writers, it could also bear significant moral and ethical consequences.
In the end, it is worth mentioning that the distributed, decentralized nature of a blockchain’s public ledger, inspires a unique way for collaborative practice: one that has a competitive dimension, yet also one that could present attractive potentials for the management of collaboration, attribution and contribution. From a wider perspective, the authors of the article consider their experiments as extending research into the current story telling, writing and reading practices, and present to the community an insight into how new digital technologies can have a prominent influence upon such a pivotal part of the human culture.