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Sometimes a noun refers to a type of objects, for example, "a virus" always refer to a type of virus, not a unit of a virus. It's difficult to refer to a single unit of a virus. I've heard people saying "a virus particle".

I'm working with digital assets. It seems in finance, "asset" always refers to a type, like "virus". People say: "you need multiple assets to diversify your investments". In another example, "an asset of mine is property", which might be a house, two or many houses.

"asset" as a word does not always refer to a type. In intelligence, "an asset" is an actual piece (or person), like "we have an asset in the Middle East".

What would be the word of choice for a single portion of a digital asset? What if I am to refer to a piece of music, a single crypto kitten, not a type of them? I'm thinking of "asset-piece" or "token", where "token" suffer from the same problem (typically it refers to a type).

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  • But, in the way you've described, an asset is of a type—and, like viruses, can be countable. I've been infected with two viruses has the same functionality as I have have (own) two assets. Also, viruses can be measured (it's a weak virus, it's a strong virus) and assets can be measured (I have $30,000 in assets.) So, I really don't see what difference you are seeing between the two—or what you mean by a single piece of a digital asset. Jan 28, 2019 at 0:11
  • Please edit this so it doesn't make people think "piece of ass" et cetera.
    – tchrist
    Jan 28, 2019 at 1:17
  • I'd maybe argue that asset class refers to a type, while asset actually is singular. ie "My assets include property." and "Property is one of my asset classes." Anyways.
    – stevesliva
    Jan 28, 2019 at 16:41

2 Answers 2

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How about an instance, or an entity?

An instance of a digital asset.

A digital entity (e.g. a file).

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The word virion is used quite frequently (though usually in formal contexts) in biology to refer to a single viral particle.

Interesting question, though it seems context specific, e.g. file, dataset, data structure, could all work. There are almost unlimited types of "assets" that can be digitally encoded.

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