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Understanding Technology as a Character in Narratives

Narratives play an important role in defining our social reality. Social reality entails the collective beliefs and opinions of a group that result from interactions between individuals of the group. Existing in various forms, a narrative contains some form of plot that organizes certain characters and events, allowing the audience to come to
a certain conclusion about the events and characters within the given narrative. According to French philosopher Paul Ricoeur’s well-known Narrative Theory, narratives can configure our social reality because narratives configure narrative plots that refigure social events and thereby refigure our social reality. From this perspective, we can begin to understand how narratives play a mediating role in
configuring individual understanding and therefore defining a collective social reality. When humans interact with certain technologies, that interaction plays a role in an individuals understanding of the narrative. For example, the presence of a technology
such as an automobile shapes our understanding of how we travel from place to place.

The car in this example plays a role in defining our experience. The concept of the traditional narrative in text language can thus be extended to include technology as part of the narrative, a non-human character that leaves the reader (or interactor) with a different understanding of a certain reality after engaging with it. The car, using the previous example, can be defined as a fixed technological character, because it is a tool that plays the same role for various people within various narratives. We can also perceive blockchain as a technological character within a narrative.
However, blockchain technology differentiates itself from most previous technological innovations (with the exception of the internet and a few others) because it can exist as a fluid, rather than fixed character. We can not say that like a car, blockchain technology will take us from A to B, however, blockchain can uniquely serve manydiverse roles for groups of human and non-human actors of different narratives.

For example, imusify will use blockchain to serve as an interface and means of exchange between various narratives in the music industry. Other blockchain products use blockchain’s potential as a fluid character within a narrative to align beliefs around enhancements to various other social realities, industries and governance sectors.
With this in mind, we must begin viewing blockchain as not simply a piece of
technology that shapes a single aspect of human experience, but rather as an
important tool in defining the greater social reality that will emerge from human engagement with such technologies. Given the potential of fluid technological characters to shape human experiences, it is
the moral responsibility of blockchain projects and use cases to engage in narratives that imagine a more favorable reality for their users. In imusify’s case, we imagine a world of music that is not limited by barriers to entry, geographic or cultural boundaries, or intermediary parties that strip control from artists and entrepreneurs in the space. This paper attempts to begin a narrative into how imusify will use blockchain as a fluid narrative technology to positively impact the future of music, both as an industry and a global voice. imusify’s narrative begins in this paper, but its
story will continue to grow through the evolution of the imusify platform and within the ecosystem that emerges alongside it.

Fluid Technological Characters

At its core, a blockchain is a set of programmable protocols and strings of data that relate to a growing chain of digital transaction such records1. Records are encrypted and stored on “blocks” of data across all network storage nodes, each confirming a set of transactions. However, as previously discussed, blockchain exists as a fluid narrativetechnology, where this set of protocols has a more significant human dimension than just acting as characters on a screen.

Today, the most popular blockchain use case is the smart contract. In an effort to better understand blockchain’s value as a narrative technology, we will take a brief look into what a smart contract really is. Smart contracts control interactions on a blockchain by enforcing rules of interaction between parties. When engaging with a smart contract, an individual agrees to the function declaration of that contract. A function declaration simply defines a particular action that can occur within a set of parameterized. For example, when an imusify user purchases a song, they are agreeing with the
function to exchange a certain amount of cryptocurrency in exchange for a digital asset in the form of a song. Even in this basic example, the presence of a smart contract eliminates the need for a human intermediary or “verifier” of the transaction.
This smart contract therefore creates a new digital reality between users and artists where they can directly engage in a trustful fashion using smartcontracts as mediators between such engagements. When we build networks of smart contracts, we can imagine that this very simple
mediation role can be extended to facilitate trustful interactions between diverse types of users. With a network of smart contracts, there must be an overlapping presence of shared human desires and beliefs between individuals. Simply put, in order for a system of smart contracts to exist and function properly, the people who
use the system must share the same beliefs about what the system will create and accomplish. In the case of imusify’s digital reality, all human actors share a collective intention around giving more to artists for the value they provide, and creating a deeper means for connection and collaboration amongst all imusify participants. imusify presents several features and functionalities that help users realize their
intentions, from direct consumer-to-creator transactions, artist crowdfunding
campaigns, and content licensing protocols. In addition to the features imusify provides to its community, the open-source platform allows users to build new use cases that deliver value and build connections using imusify’s smart contract system.
From this perspective, we can begin to see how smart contracts are the defining characteristic that classify blockchain as a fluid technological character within a narrative. Let us now look at how the global music industry as it exists today, and examine the key inefficiencies that imusify will address with its smart contract based music ecosystem.

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Armando Marais

Armando Marais

Dropil Ambassador & Dropil Enthusiast

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