Blockchain Reading Group

Aus exmediawiki

Mi You (KMW), Sam Hopkins (Kunst), Verena Friedrich (exMedia)

Fachseminar Hauptstudium und weiterqualifizierendes Studium

Dienstag 14-täglich 10:30 – 13:00

Filzengraben 2, Atelier- / Seminarraum H 4.02 (Netze)

Q: What is the blockchain?

A: A decentralised, difficult to hack database, that is shared across a peer-to-peer (P2P) network.

Q: Why is it important?

A: It offers radical potential for managing data in a non-hierarchical manner such as creating cryptocurrencies, sharing ownership and commoning information. Blockchain is where cryptography, distributed systems, politics and economy converge.

Q: What is this seminar about?

A: We will read texts together to understand the structural foundation of the blockchain, and its applications in sociopolitical contexts.

Keywords: replicated database, self-supporting incentive system, consensus rule, proof-of-work scheme, possibility to rethink the valuation of value, the commons, interpretation and assignment of rights and entitlements...


April 9, 10.00

Text: "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System", Satoshi Nakamoto



April 23, 10.30

Text: "Why It’s Hard to “Get” Bitcoin: The Blockchain Spectrum", Dhruv Bansal


May 7, 10.30

To Read:

Ethereum white paper: https://github.com/ethereum/wiki/wiki/White-Paper#ethereum

Please see how far you can get into the text. There are always articles in simpler language to aid you:


Discussed/watched during the seminar:

May 14, 10.30 - Guest

Talk by Pekko Koskinen, Economic space agency

Suggested reading: www.urbit.org/primer/


Blockchain, and the growth of cryptocurrencies that it has enabled, can be observed as a beginning. It could be even characterized as an unfortunate beginning, which has steered the discourse more towards greed than towards exploration of possibilities.

Nevertheless, blockchain is a crack in a wall, an opening, allowing us a peek towards a different economy: All the common economical forms that we utilize, from currencies to contracts, harbor the ghost of paper, the medium they were designed for. Their digital existence still carries crucial limitations that paper has set for us. Against this reality, blockchain offers a discourse towards a natively programmable economy. If we engage this discourse, extending beyond cryptocurrencies and isolated smart contracts, we can start to reconsider what economy is, and how it functions. 

While this engagement is a possibility, here and now, it's not exactly being shouted from the rooftops. Of course, such discourse is not in everyone's interests. But beyond factors of greed and power, such discourse is also a paradigmatic challenge -- a challenge we have not been prepared for. Creativity, even artfulness of economic forms might seem like a misnomer, partly because our culture has not expanded and populated such an area. This paradigmatic challenge will eventually ask for an expansion of our literacy of economy. And it will ask this from everyone, however deep they are in cryptotechnologies or financial theory: The forms and systems that would fulfill it do not exist... as of yet.

To prepare for such an engagement, this session will approach the question of economy from four perspectives, the four voices of the quartet, each of them reinterpreting what economy is. Together, they will hopefully paint a picture of economy and its financial instrumentation as cultural potential, and a possibility of our societal development.

The Four Perspectives:

  1. Economy as (Systems of) Meaning:

From this perspective, we will speculate into the nature of value -- from its origins to its capturings, from its behaviors to their contours.

  1. Economy as Governance:

From this perspective, we will inquire into what establishes economy, organizes it to existence, and provides it as a framework for people.

  1. Economy as Games:

From this perspective, we will engage the effects of economies to their subjects, and envision how economy can be expanded by its allegories through games.

  1. Economy as Religion:

From this perspective, we will unravel some of the secrets of economy -- aspects that we're actively compelled to forget so that the artificiality of economy can exist as everyday reality.

Pekko Koskinen

Here's a one-sentence summary of me, as good (and bad) as any: I (re)design conventional realities into playable forms. From the pawprints I've left in this world, you could trace fictional religions, new social conventions, potential economies and self-designs. Some of these traces overlap contexts sanctified as art. Others are harder to place... designs, perhaps? Strategical units?

As to where I operate: After several years as a research admin in Reality Research Center (RRC), and as a member of YKON, I currently  in Economic Space Agency (ECSA), where I'm responsible for the initial design of Space, a grammar for programmable economy and organization, amongst other things.

May 21, 10.30

June 4, 10.30

June 18, 10.30 - Guest

Dr. Denisa Kera is a philosopher and designer that experiments with various creative strategies of public engagement in emerging science and technology issues. She uses design methods (UX, critical design, design fiction, future scenarios, participatory design), ethnography and prototyping to research STS (Science, Technology and Society) issues. She spent the last decade as an Assistant Professor at the National University of Singapore, Senior Lecturer of Future Design in Prague College, and most recently as a Visiting Assistant Professor in Arizona State University, where she continues to cooperate as an affiliate member with the Centre for the Study of the Future. She is joining the BISITE group as a Marie Curie Senior Fellow to research Distributed Ledger Technologies (blockchain) and applications (smart contracts). Currently, she is "translating" Shakespear's play "Merchant of Venice" into a Hyperledger business network and transactions (smart contracts) to demonstrate the possibilities and limits of this emergent infrastructure and involve various stakeholders in the deliberation about the future of DLTs.

July 2, 10.30


Mi Sam Verena
Agustina Marko Andreas
Martin Max Mauro Bijun
Denzel Hyein Zorger
Max David Lukas
Dawid Jacob Hans

Further Reading

KHM library

  • "Art after money - Money after art" (Sign.: KUN F.0 - 48)
  • "Artists Re:Thinking the Blockchain" (Sign.: KUN C.8 - 124)
  • "Bitcoin & Blockchain - Grundlagen und Programmierung" (in Bearb.)
  • "99 Theses on the Revaluation of Value", Brian Massumi (Sign.: GES D.10.1.66)
  • "Derivatives and the wealth of societies", Benjamin Lee and Randy Martin (Sign.: GES D.10.1 - 70)


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