Replies to questions about AUE

I quite like the replies I found imported here to questions about A Universe Explodes so I haave collected them all here:
A Universe Explodes: A Blockchain Book, from Editions At Play
A digital book owned with Blockchain? And how can you ‘own’ a book, if anyone can read it? Well…

Thanks Mike, yes, there is a waitlist, as in, we have to wait for the current owner (i.e. the person with editorial rights / the right to dedicate / possession / the link) to either decline, or finish, or, most likely — give up. At which point the visual editions team are democratically (?) rededicating. It is VERY similar to a real-world situation of giving a book to someone and then watching them not read it, and eventually, taking (asking for? stealing?) it back so you can give it to someone who wants it. i.e. awkward.

The listed ‘owner’ is that previous person, the person who has already given on the rights to ownership.

You are completely right Владимир, of course, as long as all you want is access. If you modify the text, and republish it on your own platform, then that isn’t the same book. It’s just the same text.

Think of that in real world terms, like you making a photocopied version of my book available. I don’t mind about the text being available or modified, I am however, interested in the abstract notion of ‘owning’ a ‘digital original’ non-tangible-artefact and transferring that ownership. Hope that helps.

Hi Nidhal, sorry to be slow replying:

Do you think the book is evolving in some sort of biological way? Sort of. I think of it more as an organic degradation, just like the way a physical object would degrade, and no two objects would degrade identically although there may be patterns that look like a progression or evolution.

Can we spot the most successful edits as the ones that persist over time or the ones that keep popping up around on various versions?We could… it is actually not something I had thought about. All the changes are on logged within the blockchain so you could reference them to create a db of changes and probably cross-ref that against version# .I think each word is given a coordinate within 128:20 range (word:page) but I’m not sure if that is absolute or relative position. So after a while it might be hard to work out what is changing.

Do you consider it likely that two versions might converge on text or meaning? I call upon the second law of thermodynamics :)

Is there some interest on your part for some of those aspects or do you consider them moot? I wrote the book partly as an author, but also because we knew we couldn’t ask a regular author to submit to this. It’s not a pleasant process to watch your work ‘evolve’. So I am not too emotionally involved. However I did write in lots of qualities that meant the textual meaning could be subverted with only a few words. For example the narrators gender is very ambivalent (surprise!), the ending is up for grabs, the tone can be lightened or deepened — these and other keys are intentionally written in. Which was great fun.

Do you track some of these?


Obviously, can I get on the waiting list?Yes! Email (who are the publishers :)

Thanks Jeremy, there will still be 100 ‘books’ at the end, (if we ever get to ‘the end’), after 128 owners each page of 128 words would be reduced to 1 word. So 100 books, with one word per page, and unique in the books’ own journey of words and owners and dedications to get there, even if the word is the same in many books. If you look at:, you’l see you need to pick a volume. Just like a real object we wanted to create that continuity and give each book a provenance. Does that help?

Thank you Kate, just as an example, it appears the volume #42 appears to have intrinsic value (3 requests to own that already). Clearly #42 means something. Does it make sense to talk about value as an abstract notion? I see it as a quality that we use, as a social tool, to express wealth with. (?) There’s probably lots of science about that. I just find this whole space: what indicates value in a digital world, one without natural scarcity, one without any non-symbolic value or tangible byproduct, particularly fascinating. SO fun. x x

Oh hi. Apologies for the tardy reply. Yes. I'd like to do this - I've been thinking about it a lot.

I think the tech around wrapped coins & NFTs was too infant for us to utilise then OR more likely (and I will ask Kwame) I felt that Google really couldn't / oughtn't be objectively 'selling' a book or building platforms to sell through - even though (as I hope I mentioned) that was kind of the point. I felt optimistic for the prospect of primary and secondary culture markets being revolutionised by this model of ownership. [I just didn't think that it would become primarily a market for celebrity toe-clippings]... Am trying to write an essay about fungibility at the moment. But will you dm me on twitter with your email? It is @teaelleu.

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