the Composability Fantasy

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Sebastian Park
Sebastian Park
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December 10th, 2021

Ever since Loot Project exploded, and I heard a poker player bought a bag of randomly generated words for a million dollars, I’ve been thinking about composability: the major innovation of Ethereum over its predecessors.

Smart contracts (programs stored on the blockchain that run when predetermined conditions are met) are the code that power NFTs, DeFi, and DAOs. They’re composable, which means they’re like legos — the contracts are building blocks that can be programmed to interact with each other.

Composability allows anyone in a network to take existing programs and adapt or build on top of them.

Loot is maximum composability — thanks to Dom’s status as a creative god of smart contracts, it captured the community’s imagination, and tens of thousands of people raced to buy and build.

Some people thought this was how the next Dungeons and Dragons would get made.

Others believed that it marked the dawn of the next Middle-earth.

To me, it seemed like If you could only figure out how to unlock the value, writers could have their NFT moment too.

But while the composability of Loot produced an insane burst of initial momentum (including for writers -- there’s a DAO devoted to the lore of the Divine Robes), so far it hasn’t produced any meaningful written stories.

Truly great writing takes time. There’s a long and lonely trudge between a burst of inspiration and the daily work of storytelling. I have no doubt that the Loot community could theoretically produce the next Game of Thrones, but composability doesn’t enable it. A sustained creative effort over a long period of time does.

So is the composability of smart contracts actually useful to writers? Payments and permanence are one thing, but fanfiction already enables innovation for writers in a similar way to how composability enables innovation for blockchain developers. Fanfiction has given birth to expanded universes, the MCU, modern TV adaptations… even Twilight.

The only things that stand in the way of making decentralized fanfiction profitable are copyright and license.

Maybe composability is most interesting when you change the context: not to look at what it’s useful for in terms of solving problems for writers, but instead what happens when you combine it with the act of storytelling.

Could smart contracts for writers actually just be a new art form?

Of all the creators in crypto, Dom is the one I feel is ten steps ahead of everyone else. Last night I asked a friend of mine to explain Corruption, an under-the-radar project that is as compelling as it is mysterious:

hmm, alright. so corruption...
it's basically a chain-mediated ARG run by dom
highly technical, constant posting of new contracts in realtimecoded messages sent via an on-chain messaging system that we as a community respond to, build against, and, essentially, operate as improv partners with dom on
it's been back and forth with dom and our builders, where we have recently created a contract to mint derivative work to earn money for the dao wallet to collect a full set of specific deviated corruptions to play along with the stuff dom has been posting anyway, we have learned over the course of the game that we are talking to many entities, some of which are daemons, operating in separate universes
it's really damn cool definitely first of this that i've seen

Maybe the innovation of composability is that it will allow for the creation of new publishing methods and platforms that reward writers with stronger incentives.

Maybe we’re going to spend thousands of dollars in ETH to experience chapters of new and exciting books.

Or maybe composability will give birth to a new class of writers, who use smart contract-powered building blocks to write for an engaged community of owners: part technical improv gamemaster, part scribe.

Telling great stories together, no longer alone.

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