Write The Text!

The Text is a distributed collective creation and social experiment inspired by The Game, population protocols and the OpenPGP web of trust, which is being composed right now by an unknown number of people.

How can I contribute?

  1. Make a sentence up. It will be your Fragment of The Text.
  2. When you meet someone who owns a Fragment, creatively combine the two Fragments. One of you owns the result, the other one can start playing again with a new Fragment.
  3. You can't combine twice with the same person.

If your Fragment is over a million characters long, it is the final version of The Text. Publish it and announce it immediately.

Rule details

a sentence
A reasonably-sized, creative sentence, avoiding rudeness, obscenity or plain stupidity.
when you meet
Provided you are willing, of course. You can refuse to merge if you don't like the Fragment of the other guy.
Meeting over the Internet is fine. It's better to know the other guy somehow, and to keep track of whom you merged with.
meet someone
Of course, your own friends are good candidates: just tell them about The Text and ask them to contribute a sentence.
creatively combine
Concatenation is usually fine, but you may add some transition, choose the order, etc. Just don't change the original Fragments too much (except to remove duplicate bits if there are some) and don't add too much. (A good guideline is: don't add more than the length of the smallest of the two Fragments.) Don't edit thinks you find inappropriate; just refuse to merge if you don't like the other Fragment.
one of you
If you can agree, fine. If you can't decide, flip a coin.
a new Fragment
A sentence, like in rule 1.


What kind of text should The Text be?

It's up to you to decide. The Text could become a long story, or a collection of quotes or witty thoughts, or personal anecdotes, or secret messages, or most likely a messy combination of the above. Once again, you get to choose the sentence you contribute, to merge things in an interesting way, and to refuse to merge with people whose Fragment you don't like.

What is the current version of The Text?

There isn't one version of The Text, but an unknown number of concurrent and mostly unrelated versions which will possibly merge. The closest call to a "current" version would be the largest Fragment currently in existence, but we don't know how long it is, where it is, or what it contains.

How come you don't provide a wiki to edit The Text online?

Because The Text is not hosted on one place, but created and propagated around the world in a social way without any form of central control, or any way to know what has been created yet. That's the whole point.

A million characters? That's as long as a novel? Are you insane?

We do not care if The Text stays unfinished for long.

How will the authors of The Text be credited?

They won't, because it wouldn't be practical. You can always include your name (or a pseudonym, or anything) to your Fragment if you so desire. Or you can use some service like Stamper to prove your authorship if your Fragment appears in the final version of The Text.

If I stop playing before I have merged my Fragment and given it to someone else, what happens? Does it die?

Yes, it does, and this is quite sad for those people who merged with you. Therefore, to stop playing, please try to merge your Fragment away with someone. If you really can't, at least publish it somewhere so it isn't lost.

If you do stop playing without merging, or if you lose your Fragment, you can try to tell the people who merged with you that they should resume playing and merge with someone else.

How to remember my Fragment? Should I write it down?

That's a good idea. You can write it on paper, or on your computer. Paper Fragments are easier to carry around and can be merged quite easily. Computer files are more suited to big Fragments.

The two Fragments I have to combine contain a large common part. What to do?

This probably means that someone at some point passed their Fragment to two different people. This wasn't supposed to happen. You may edit the Fragments to keep only one copy of the common part.

Someone pretends to have the final version of The Text. Is it legit?

If it is legit, the guy who is posting the final Fragment should have several people vouching for the authenticity of the parts of the Fragment. These people can in turn ask the people with whom they combined to vouch for their Fragments, and so on. Doing this verification for a few steps should be enough to find out if the thing was just created by a cheater or a few cheaters.

What about foreign languages?

Feel free to use whatever language you prefer and to create a Fragment with your friends in whatever language you're familiar with. If you meet people with Fragments in foreign languages you don't understand, just combine them with your Fragment, don't translate.