On this week’s episode of The Verso Podcast we’ll be taking a close look at the history of tokens across time, and the cultures that have grown up around them in the digital age. Rachel O’Dwyer and Edward Ongweso join our host, Eleanor Penny, to talk Bored Apes, art markets, Ponzi schemes and butter tokens.
When cryptocurrency crashed into the mainstream a few years ago, Silicon Valley angel investors, celebrities, and techno-anarchists alike were proclaiming the end of money as we know it. The end of centralised banking and state-backed currency, the unleashing of investment, and the freeing of the common man from the dominion of petty bureaucrats, bigwigs, and pencil-pushers. But as bitcoin bubbles burst, digital tokens are devalued, and the huge cryptocurrency marketplace known as ‘FTX’ was revealed to be a giant scam, many people are reappraising what the rise of digital currency might mean.
Rachel O’Dwyer is a lecturer in Digital Cultures at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. She’s a co-editor at Neural Magazine, and her work has also featured in publications including London Review of Books, The Convergence, and The MIT Press. Her book Tokens: The Future of Money in the Age of the Platform was published in October by Verso Books.
Edward Ongweso Jr is a Brooklyn-based writer with a focus on technology, finance, and labour. He is an editor at Logic(s) Magazine, and his writing has appeared widely in outlets such as The Nation, Vice, Wired, and Dissent Magazine. He co-hosts the podcast This Machine Kills on the political economy of technology.
In this in-depth and wide-ranging conversation, Edward and Rachel appraise the promises and pitfalls of digital currency - considering what it might tell us about how money works and how value is produced, whilst reflecting on the ideologies that are driving the crypto investors of Silicon Valley, Wall Street and beyond.
Tune in next week for an episode discussing inequality, the housing crisis, and the British welfare state with Chatelle Lewis and Danny Dorling - author of Shattered Nation.
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