Blockchains

Blockchains

Literatures on the blockchain are essential to this project. We have sought to include, but also to go beyond technical papers to consider the social, political and economic implications of distributed ledger technologies (DLTs). Some useful papers are listed here.

The starting point is the Nakamoto paper, which discusses the best-known use of DLTs, the crypto-currency bitcoin: Nakamoto, S. (2008). Bitcoin: A peer-to-peer electronic cash system.

Bitcoins and blockchains are often associated with libertarian political philosophies (freedom from state regulation and identification), criminal activity and speculative investors. This useful paper empirical analyses actual bitcoin users to assess who is presently using it: Yelowitz, A., & Wilson, M. (2015). Characteristics of Bitcoin users: an analysis of Google search data. Applied Economics Letters, 22(13), 1030-1036.

This article critiques the libertarian claims of Bitcoin users: Karlstrøm, H. (2014). Do libertarians dream of electric coins? The material embeddedness of Bitcoin. Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory, 15(1), 23-36.

However, many people are seeking ethical and collective uses for DLTs. Examples include:

https://fair-coin.org

https://bitnation.co

These developments are backed up by a growing literature which explores progressive futures offered by the technology.  This article suggests that, despite being mobilized in favour of a libertarian philosophy, blockchain technologies can support socialist philosophies through engendering trust between people, reducing consumption, supporting the global commons, and providing a means to encrypt social values: Huckle, Steve, and Martin White. “Socialism and the Blockchain.” Future Internet 8.4 (2016): 49.

See also: O’Dwyer, R. (2015). The Revolution will (not) be decentralised: Blockchains. Commons Transition.

For an alternative view which argues that blockchains will increase commodification rather than solve it, see: Garrod, J. Z. (2016). The Real World of the Decentralized Autonomous Society. tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique. Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society, 14(1), 62-77.