The Passed Words Project

An Interactive Social Experiment About How Information Travels Through Physical Networks (www.thepassedwordsproject.com)

As lover of books and an avid reader, I am often talking about, recommending, and sharing books with friends, family, colleagues, and coworkers. Over the years, I’ve purchased books for multiple people and shipped them across the globe for others to enjoy. Being able to share information, stories, and experiences with people is an incredible feeling . . . and that’s what spawned the idea for The Passed Words Project:

Born from a simple premise: If we asked people to share information with the world and we asked the world to share that information with us, what would it look like?
A small spark of an idea quickly became a passion project into how we can visualize the social transfer of information in the real world.
Thirty books were purchased for the project. Each book is fitted with a printed insert that contains information about the project and instructions for participation. As people share their information with The Passed Words Project, it is compiled and uploaded to Google Maps. Then we can visualize how these books travel across the world.

After purchasing thirty books of varying authors, interests, and genres, I shipped them out into the wild to see what happens with the following taped to the back of each:


Thirty Books, now out in the wild:

The books chosen are meant to be an eclectic combination of interests, genres, authors, images, and generations. We attempted to choose books that are interesting, ‘passable’, and intriguing enough to garner attention from the general public:

  1. America: The Book, A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction by Jon Stewart and the Writers of The Daily Show
  2. BossyPants by Tina Fey
  3. Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
  4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
  6. Horton Hears a Who! by Dr. Seuss
  7. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
  8. Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton
  9. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  10. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
  11. Life: The Classic Collection by the Editors of LIFE
  12. Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger
  13. On The Road by Jack Kerouac
  14. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  15. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  16. The Circle by Dave Eggers
  17. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  18. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  19. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
  20. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  21. A Treasury of Curious George by Margaret & H. A. Rey
  22. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  23. Yes Please by Amy Poehler
  24. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  25. The Essential Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Waterson
  26. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  27. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  28. Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
  29. The Last Pictures by Trevor Paglan
  30. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

So, what’s happened? Where are the books? How’s the project coming?

You can view follow the project on Instagram, or via the website. Check out the maps below:


Here are some of the social interactions that people have shared with us so far:

“Nothing but LOVE here in St. Maarten. Happy to have @thepassedwordsproject book with me for this one. May the love of this book be passed on.”
“If you find this book, read it and pass it on. The James Dean knife fight spot at the Griffith Observatory.”
“If you know me, you know that Harry Potter is one of my great loves so when I found this copy of the Sorcerer’s Stone lying on the street I felt like it was sitting there waiting for me. Apparently it was. Thank you @thepassedwordsproject for the gift. I promise to pass it on when I’m done.”
“Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Thanks for sharing, @thepassedwordsproject.”

What’s next?

Let me know if you come across any of the books. Read them. Enjoy them. Share them. Pass them along. Thanks for being part of the project.


HI. MY NAME IS MARK MICHAEL, AND MY PASSION LIES IN CREATING EXPERIENCES THAT CONNECT WITH PEOPLE.

I focus on bringing ideas to life. In fact, I’ve created some incredible things for some amazing people. Through research, technology, human understanding, and creativity, I turn information into insight, insight into strategy, and strategy into action.

Originally published at www.markmichael.xyz
If you like what you see, let’s create something together.