Story Blocks: Reimagining Narrative through Cryptocurrency

Deborah Maxwell, Chris Speed

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are challenging the way we perceive money. No longer are banks or governments the mediators of currencies with the power to divest or invest to dictate the flow of value within society. The invention of the blockchain, a globally stored and collaboratively written list of all transactions that have ever taken place within a given system, decentralises money and offers a platform for its creative use.

Already there are examples of blockchain technologies extending beyond the realm of currency, including the decentralisation of domain name servers (e.g. Namecoin [1]) that are not subject to government takedown, identity management and governance (BlockchainID [2] and Bitnation [3]), and digital assets such as car ownership and registration through Colored Coins [4].

This paper presents findings from a set of early stage experiments and prototypes spanning physical and digital forms that explore how narrative might be explicitly embedded within a type of cryptocurrency system predicated on a blockchain. As each transaction recorded on the blockchain makes reference to the value system in use, e.g. currency or identification, a narrative is formed across the value system, with each transaction a fragment of a larger story. In this case, narrative segments or ‘transactions’ are added incrementally by authors and distributed and validated through a peer-to-peer network to form ‘story blocks’ in the blockchain system. This creates a whole that is conceptually similar to the Victorian ‘exquisite corpse’ parlour game. The implicit and explicit roles that narrative and stories might have in wider cryptocurrency systems are discussed through this lens, contemplating and reimagining what this might mean for the future of collaborative writing and publishing.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventMIX DIGITAL - Bath, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Jul 20154 Jul 2015


Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

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