Story blocks: Reimagining narrative through the blockchain

Deborah Maxwell, Christopher Speed, Larissa Pschetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Digital technology is changing, and has changed the ways we create and consume narratives, from moving images and immersive storyworlds to digital longform and multi-branched story experiences. At the same time, blockchain, the technology that underpins cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, is revolutionising the way that transactions and exchanges occur. As a globally stored and collaboratively written list of all transactions that have ever taken place within a given system, the blockchain decentralises money and offers a platform for its creative use. There are already examples of blockchain technologies extending beyond the realm of currency, including the decentralisation of domain name servers that are not subject to government takedown, and identity management and governance.
By framing key blockchain concepts with past and present storytelling practices, this paper raises questions as to how the principles and implementation of such distributed ledger technologies might be used within contemporary writing practices – that is, can we imagine stories as a currency or value system? We present three experiments that draw on some of the fundamental principles of blockchain and Bitcoin, as an instantiation of a blockchain implemented application, namely; 1) the Ledger, 2) the Blocks, and 3) the Mining Process. Each low-fi experiment was intentionally designed to be very accessible to take part in and understand and were conducted as discrete workshops with different sets of participants. Participants included a cohort of design students, technology industry and design professionals, and writing and interaction design academics. Each experiment raised a different set of reflections and subsequent questions on the nature of digital, the linearity (or not) of narratives, and collaborative processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-97
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Bitcoin
  • blockchain
  • creative writing
  • digital publishing
  • narrative
  • storytelling
  • story blocks
  • stories


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  • Design in Action

    Biggs, S., Maxwell, D. & Speed, C.



    Project: Research

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