Rachel O’Dwyer is a lecturer and researcher in the School of Computer Science in Trinity College Dublin. She is the leader of the Dublin Art and Technology Association (www.data.ie) and curator of Openhere (www.openhere.data.ie), a festival and conference on the digital commons. Rachel is a core member of the P2P Foundation where she coordinates the P2P academic research network and 100 women in peer-to-peer. She publishes, speaks, and organizes events on topics such as the political economy of communications, disruptive technologies and the digital commons. She is a regular contributor to Neural magazine.
Blockchain for Platform Cooperativism
How might distributed infrastructures such as the blockchain support platform cooperativism? Recently we have been hearing a lot about the blockchain. Not only because it is the distributed ledger that underpins bitcoin transactions, but also because individuals and collectives are starting to consider the applications of the blockchain for other forms of non-financial cooperation and decision-making. Proposed applications include p2p clouds and data storage, Wi-Fi mesh networking, decentralised voting and reputation systems, as well as a number of alternative sharing applications. Here the blockchain emerges as a promising tool to support platform cooperativism. However, the recent interest in the blockchain is also an opportunity to think critically about tools and technologies for engineering socioeconomic collectivism. To what extent can distributed technologies model or instantiate desirable forms of sharing and peer production? And when we design for cooperation, what kinds of sociality and subjectivity are we engineering into our systems? How can we cultivate forms of social production and human trust alongside distributed platforms?