an experimental online literature system
featuring deep quotation, deep reuse, and usable micropayments

A demo system is running at Hyperworlds.

The Perl source code is available on SourceForge in the hypertext CVS repository

The following paper describes token_word in great detail:
"token_word: a Xanalogical Transclusion and Micropayment System." [ps.gz (228 KiB)][pdf (196 KiB)]

What is token_word, exactly? The following description is from the token_word main page (the quotes described below are visible inside the token_word system):

token_word is an online literature system built around the notion of content quotation and reuse---the aim of this system is to make reuse completely frictionless.

quotation is a common, if not mundane, writing device. We might view it simply as a necessary evil, as secondary to the act of creation. Why, then, does token_word focus so heavily on quotation? Because quotation works differently in token_word, and the way it works is far from mundane.

when one token_word document quotes another, the quote is preserved as a deep reference. In other words, the characters quoted from the first document are not simply copied into the quoting document. Thus, by following the quote reference, the original context of the quote can be obtained.

token_word does not stop at one level of indirection: a quote can contain a quote, which can again contain another quote, et cetera. The reference chain can continue indefinitely, and it can likewise be explored indefinitely.

what happens when quotation and reference-chasing becomes automatic? Quotation can become transparent, and all those quotation opacifiers (like "quotation marks", block-indents, and reference flags) can disappear. We suddenly have a universe of words and ideas that can be assembled, rearranged, and distilled over and over. The origins of particular words in such a collage can be traced as necessary, but references no longer need to obscure the words themselves.

and what about links? token_word provides no explicit linking mechanism, though quotes can be used effectively as links (which can be viewed by clicking on the "show embedded quotes" link below). For example, you can get more information about token_word by chasing the references in the following quotes:

frequently asked questions

token_word history

along with frictionless, deep quotation, token_word delivers a frictionless micropayment system. Each character in the token_word universe is worth one token. Thus, a 3000-character article is worth 3000 tokens. When a user accesses the article for the first time, he or she pays 3000 tokens. This payment does not go entirely to the author of the article, but is instead split up among the original authors of the words in the article (some of which may have been written by the author of the article). If the 3000-character article contains 2300 original characters and a 700-character quote, 2300 tokens are transfered to the article author and 700 are transfered to the quote author.

readers only spend tokens for the words in an article once. Whenever an article quotes words that the reader already owns, those words are free, and only the new words use up tokens.

with both reference-chasing and micropayments in place, authors can encourage free reuse of their writing. The more an author's words are reused, the more tokens that author is likely to receive.

token_word is inspired by the ideas of Ted Nelson, the inventor of hypertext, transclusion, and transcopyright.

token_word was created by Jason Rohrer.

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