A Napster Moment For Collective Storytelling | 2133


Experienced Future shock this week with the launch of three NFT projects: LOOT, The Logged Universe, and Lifeforms. Permissive IPs are coming. If I was a major producer/owner of culture. I’d be very worried.

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A Napster Moment For Myth and Meaning?


The NFT madness continues. I personally don’t care about collectable JPGs or their price. What I care about is the technology’s possibilities. This week friend @isthisanart_ released 3 experimental NFTs that are in some sense alive. Primitive Tamagotchi on the blockchain called lifeforms.supply. To keep them alive, the NFT must be given away within 90days of receiving it. An experiment in gift economy and care.

In the world of Blockchain I swing from futureshock to despair. This week it’s futureshock. LOOT happened.


LOOT is/was a smart contract that generated deeds to 8000 randomised quote unquote β€œbags” of items. And also supported the on-chain generation SVG images. These images show the contents of the bags. 

The contents read like RPG text adventure inventories from interactive fiction. (see also, last week’s episode).

A typical β€˜bag’ of items reads like this:

So far so good, a list of imaginary items as an NFT you say. But what’s the point? 

Permissive IPs

I’ve been talking about Permissive IPs for a while:

Permissive: Intellectual Protocols
New types of procedures, legal arrangements, systems and rules for governing intellectual property that will return value directly to its creators and particiaptns.

LOOT is quickly becoming a proto-permissive IP. Straight away people began drawing art of their LOOT bags or AI generating pixel art versions.

Some owners of LOOT have formed squads or guilds based on the items their LOOT bags contain. For example, owners of ”divine robes,” of which there are only 396 set up their own community at Divine Roles dot com.

Others have extended the ERC-271 LOOT NFTs with the ​​ERC-1155 protocol. Allowing them to β€˜unbundle’ the bags into their constituent elements as separate NFTs.

And as of today, Loot monsters arrived. With on chain battle mechanics. Interactive fiction has arrived on the blockchain.

What is happening with LOOT was described last year by other.internet in their essay Market Protocol Fit.

How Permissive IP should work.

Hypertext Narrative

One of the most influential essays (on me) about the early Internet is called Hypertext Narrative by Michael Joyce. First published online in 1992.

He says the following:

Narrative creates wealth. Yet hypertext, thusfar at least, mimics most computational systems in shifting and consuming rather than creating wealth. This is because hypertext thinks itself to be structural rather than serial thought– thought in space rather than thought for space. “Serial thought,” says Umberto Eco, “aims at the production of history and not at the rediscovery– beneath history– of the atemporal abscissae of all possible communication.” (“Series and Structure,” The Open Work, 221)

Hypertext, at least when it is seen as constructive rather than exploratory, is serial thought. Its “mode of spatialization,” Deleuze and Guattari’s term, is being for space, what I call the constructive, a form for what does not yet exist; rather than being in space, or the exploratory and colonizing. Like AI, its elder sister in this science, hypertext would like to claim its creative powers, but to do so must become the art it claims it is.

The Linked Tree Of The Logged Universe‘.

On top of LOOT and Lifeforms this week: Simon de la RouviΓ¨re founder un_frontier, launched a collective bottom up hypertext storytelling project called ‘The Linked Tree Of The Logged Universe‘.

What if Twine but blockchain?. Passages are NFTs and anyone can mint a passage and connect/link it to other nodes.

It’s a fantastic idea. Very quickly I think we’ll see projects like LOOT and The Logged Universe merge with MUDs, AI Interactive Fiction Dungeons and DAOs. And a record of your own chosen adventure minted as a superset of the composable NFT elements you encountered during your play though. Imagine speedrun categories that generate the most or least value.

Here’s some more of Joyce’s 1992 essay:

“Look,” we want to say of the hypertext, “see this traversal, this web, this trail, this graph… No one has ever thought this before. Look how, like pearls on a string, these nodes glitter on their path…”

But always some emperor-baiting child within us will out. “Pardon,” she says, ‘But why, if this is new, is it there already? Surely you mean no one has gotten to this point in this way before; surely that is what is new.”

“No, child,” we say, “You don’t understand. This substance is an object of value unto itself…” Then she asks the terrifying questions: “Who is the author of this new thing? What will you call it? And where will you put it?”

For the reader of a technical communication, theoretically at least, there is some nethermost node, a gleaming target which represents the meaning of a text. (In reality, of course, this node likely encompasses the span of a series of nodes.) This theoretical terminal node can be systematically described by both its location and its links. Even if the meaning is potentiated– as an inference or discovery, for instance– the node is thought to be present and reachable. That is, every reading by every reader is thought to be anticipated by the system of the exploratory text. We might call this belief the myth of emerging order.

I don’t know where this is all going. But seen alongside the power fandom phenomenon known as Blaseball – If I was Disney or a major producer/owner of culture. I’d be very worried.

The generation of myth and meaning and value is about to have its Napster moment.

The script above is the original script I wrote for the episode. It may differ from what ended up in the audio due to time constraints.

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6 responses to “A Napster Moment For Collective Storytelling | 2133”

  1. […] A Napster Moment For Collective Storytelling | 2133 […]

  2. […] as I mentioned last week there is LOOT. That is of course if greedy investors don’t buy up all the NFTs. LOOT being currently the first […]

  3. […] Much of the detail in that episode came from research for my Solarpunk novel. And I also think the last three episodes have contributed something. Thoughts that have been rattling around for a long time […]

  4. […] It’s also as you will recall the ‘Next Generation Storytelling’ unit. Right now, remarkable things are happening in Web3 with Permissive IPs, Power Fandoms and collective storytelling projects. […]

  5. […] I have thoughts. If you need some context for this episode I refer you episodes 2133, and 2134 on collective storytelling and power fandoms. Also, my post on Craving Canon and media […]

  6. […] sourcebooks, literature, film and comic-book universes with cross media rights, histories and IP, bottom up web3 / power fandoms, theme parks, public buildings, collaborative writing projects, offices, video chat […]

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