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An Incomplete Ambition

Decentralization is a word I’ve heard used to justify a lot of nonsense over the past decade. So last summer I drafted a long, somewhat stuffy, digression-filled assault on it.

With the help of comments from a bunch of friends and strangers, it has just been published in the fantastic Journal of Cultural Economy. It’s called “Decentralization: An Incomplete Ambition.”

Even the proofreader liked it. “Entirely objectively, it’s extraordinarily good,” she tweeted. That’s never happened to me before.

The first 50 people who use this link can access the published article for free. (If you have academic library access, grab it normally here.) If you’re too late for the free link, here’s a preprint.

For the practical blockchain designers among you, I also put together some recommendations based on the thing at Hacker Noon, a popular Colorado-based platform (of which I am a minor equity-crowdfunding investor). It’s called “What To Do Once You Admit That Decentralizing Everything Never Seems to Work.”

Meet MEDLab (and grab the podcast)

Another thing: I’ve started a lab. I was terrible at chemistry, and we don’t even have a physical space for our beakers, but together with a growing group of grad students at CU Boulder, I’ve assembled the Media Enterprise Design Lab to advance the cause of community-owned and -governed media economies. We’re doing research, experimentation, and consulting (including for Action Network, the platform that sent you this email). It’s fun, even if we only sort of know what we’re doing so far.

But at least we have a podcast—which is also a radio show on KGNU community radio. It’s called Looks Like New: Conversations on Tech and Justice. The latest guest was my hero and friend Douglas Rushkoff. You can get it here.

We’re cooperativizing Colorado

So much is happening up here in mountain-land! A few weeks ago, the Denver Post featured my book, Everything for Everyone, as part of an article on the long tradition of cooperative enterprise in the state. Then, a few weeks later—in part as an outgrowth of a conference I co-organized at the university last November—Governor Jared Polis announced a new initiative for expanding employee ownership across the state. This is huge.

If you’re a cooperator in Colorado, consider joining us on May 1 for a policy roundtable to help design a strategy for seriously advancing economic democracy from the Eastern Plains to the Western Slope.

Oh, and If you still don’t have the book, get it here, or request it at your local library.

Works not cited

  • libi striegl and Lori Emerson suggest that the true purpose of One Laptop Per Child’s lovely machines may only become clear when we accept the failure of the pseudo-humanitarian project
  • #MeToo has come for credit union bro culture—thank you, Rachel Pross
  • How to (begin thinking about how to) make worker co-ops out of blockchains, with the brilliant Morshed Mannan
  • Mik Awake recognizes book collecting as book privatizing
  • I can’t believe I missed David Van Reybrouck’s argument for replacing elections (and politicians, where possible) with citizen juries
  • And how, honestly, did I miss this Neal Stephenson hacker-tourist epic on laying undersea cables around the far reaches of the Earth—no longer!

May you feel the season of liberation, resurrection, and seedlings.