This page is populated by questions that have arrived from readers and colleague about Antwork. If you have a question about the book, let us know on firstname.lastname@example.org
Why did you write ‘Antwork‘?
Antwork was written because, like any parent experiences, my child asked me a question I could not answer. Not happy with the answers I could find in books and online, I came up with my own. Thanks to a good friend, and lots of help, I can now share those with you.
One distant evening over for years ago, my daughter asked me what money was. I had some notion of the basics of economics, but was quickly stopped cold when she, with the persistence of a young child, started digging into the logic behind money, inflation and banking. A lot of what we humans do in terms of our financial systems and operations is decidedly not logical. I quickly had to admit defeat. I simply did not understand what inflation was well enough, or the difference between digital currencies and fiat currencies, to be able to explain these concepts and technologies to a child. I turned to books and the Net for help, but quickly learned that while there are a lot of books about economics, not a lot of those are for children. There is some good material out there, but it is factual, and often does not engage with the context of economics: Technology, society, humans and our behaviour – nor the origins of economics. Also, my daughter wanted stories – not dry facts. So I tried to come up with small imaginative stories about how money could be invented. Thanks to a good friend, who reminded me other parents might have use for these stories, I was set on the path of writing a book. Four years later, we have Antwork. Along the way it was rewritten a dozen times, and more than a few dozen experts generously provided insights, links to academic papers (so many papers – on everything from instinctual psychology, behavioural economics, to blockchain technology), and feedback, or shared their ways of teaching children about private/public key encryption and other key concepts in technology and economics. I am incredibly grateful to them and the parents and children who beta-read the book. I thought writing scientific papers was challenging, but trying to explain technical concepts to children in a way that is engaging and interesting (which I hope Antwork is), is really hard.
Why are almost everyone in “Antwork” female?
In the story, everyone is female except non-humans and the male drones, because humanity has changed to fundamentally operate like ants in how they reproduce. They have queens that lay eggs. Larvae emerge from those eggs. The larvae spins cocoons around themselves and metamorphose into babies. Awesome.
In the background, I was motivated to having female protagonists because economics, and computer science, as academic fields of inquiry, are pretty male-dominated. This is reflected in the writing in these areas. I felt it was only natural to try to change that, but I also tried to write Leodie and Wimax as characters first, not as girls first. Gender is both enormously important in their society, and not at all.
I also wanted them to be as culturally non-specific as possible. Antwork is not aimed at a specific cultural or geographic audience. It is my hope that Antwork is a book that children all over the world, irrespective of their culture, race or how they identify as a gender (or not) can gain some small value from the book.
Why do the children in the book have such strange names?
I wanted children all over the world to be able to identify with the characters in the book, and therefore tried to use names that were unrelated to any specific culture. I did this by taking the names of children I know, from various parts in the world, and splitting up their names into parts. I then reassembled new names from the bits. I hope it worked – do let me know if it did not so I can do better in future books.