MoneyLab #1 Report & Videos

The videos and blog reports of the MoneyLab: Coining Alternatives conference are now online! If you missed out on this year’s conference or would like to experience it again, be sure to check out the videos below, where each presentation can be viewed in its entirety.

View or download the Conference Report with all blog posts here.

MoneyLab: Coining Alternatives, an initiative of the Institute of Network Cultures, Hogeschool van Amsterdam, took place in Amsterdam, on March 22nd and 23rd, 2014. It brought together 25 speakers divided in 7 sessions. Extra activities included a Bazaar with 8 exhibiting organizations that are engaged in alternative economies, a crowdfunding workshop and a theater performance. Around 250 – 300 people attended the event, held at Lab 111.

Friday, March 22

Session 1: Monetization of Everything

Saskia Sassen – Finance Is Not About Money

Saskia Sassen joined speakers Stefan and Ralph Heidenreich and Bill Maurer in the first panel of the MoneyLab conference – “Monetization of Everything”. Sassen is a long time friend of Geert Lovink and famous for coining the term “global city”. She opened the session by stating that “it is a mistake to think that finance is about money, that if it only were, it would be so simple” (read more…)

Stefan and Ralph Heidenreich – Non-Money

Following Saskia Sassen’s talk were the Heidenreich brothers, authors of the book “Mehr Geld” (or “More Money” in German). The pair presented their latest work “Non-money”, that looks at money from the standpoint of finance with the goal to criticize the issue of money since, the two argue, this is technologically obsolete today. They started by defining what we understand as money in the words of the Bank of England – “money in the modern economy is just (read more…)

Bill Maurer – An Anthropologist’s Take on Monetization

Bill Maurer began his session with a statement about the alternative currencies today: “It’s a wild west out there”. Of course, a lot of the emerging payment systems fail along the way. Looking a bit at the origin of alternative currencies, we see the 19th century’s references to the railroad systems (read more…)

Session 2: Dismantling Global Finance

Franco Berardi – Money Language Insolvency

Franco Berardi started his presentation by linking the subject of money and alternative currencies to the Occupy movement, whose tonality and intentions, in his opinion, had a lot to do with hacking the future of money. Berardi described the Occupy movement as a ‘self affirmation of the body against the rationale of abstraction in the financial sphere – the final avatar or manifestation, an attempt to deconstruct the financial automation of social life (read more…)

Brett Scott – Applying the Hacker Ethic to the Financial System

In his talk, Brett Scott discussed how hacker ethics could be applied to the financial system. He began by speaking about different power relations in finance. Scott claims that the way people imagine the financial sector to function can only perpetuate the inherent power differential that already exists (read more…)

Tiziana Terranova – Virtual Money and the Currency of the Commons

Tiziana Terranova began her presentation by mentioning she does not work on money and she has no specific expertise on this, other than working as a new media researcher for a long time. Therefore, she started making her argument on the virtualization of money through technology, and questioning the monetization of labour and social media (read more…)

Brian Holmes – Money Unlimited: The Consequences of Quantitative Easing

Brian Holmes has long been a key voice in the critical and activist oriented discussions on economics and is especially active on the Nettime mailing lists. Recently, he has been looking at issues surrounding global supply chains and their effects on society. He began his speech by stating that the time of ‘supermoney’ is now, explaining how power, control, and wealth can be acquired and used by the push of a button, with money being created, in many instances, out of thin air (read more…).

Session 3: Critical Art Practices

Ron Peperkamp – The Art Reserve Bank

Ron Peperkamp is an artist and the managing director of the Art Reserve Bank. His projects could be described as rather remarkable happenings, which, in a serious but playful way, invite the viewer to reflect on social and economic matters. Over the last two years, he has been running the Art Reserve Bank, hoping to provide an alternative to one of the fundamental problems of the bank crisis (read more…)

Dadara – Who Says Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees?

Among the heteroclite crowd of scholars, artists, entrepreneurs and journalists intervening at MoneyLab comes Dadara, a man that could seem quite like a UFO after the finance-oriented morning of talks and conferences. The Amsterdam-based performance artist started his career as an illustrator, designing flyers and recording covers for the electronic house scene. Dadara claims he had no interest in money whatsoever until three years ago, but that he is now fascinated by it (read more…)

Dette Glashouwer – Always Sunny in the Rich Man’s World

“Money has never interested me,” repeated Dette Glashouwer during her performance titled MoneyMoneyMoney, opening the third session of the MoneyLab conference. A Dutch actress and performance artist, as well as one of the founders of Dutch theatre troupe Suver Nuver, Glashouwer has toured this and related solo performances around the world (read more…)

Session 4: Mobile Money

Erin Taylor – Mobile Money

Bill Maurer moderated the fourth session of MoneyLab on mobile money. He introduced the topic as growing out of a grassroots movement in sub-Saharan Africa, when people who were using pre-paid mobile phones realized they could send airtime to each other via phones as an alternative currency, and as a mechanism of settling debts, amongst other things (read more…)

Gawain Lynch – Mobile Money and Social (or Anti-Social) Security

The self-described ‘reformed tech geek’ Gawain Lynch built on his experience in information security and asset protection in order to discuss some of the issues currently surrounding the growing field of mobile money. He discussed security as one such major issue (read more…)

Taylor Nelms – Mobile Money and the Social and Technological Infrastructures of Transaction

The talk by Taylor Nelms focused on lessons learned throughout his work at the Institute for Money, Technology, and Financial Inclusion. His research interest is on monetary ecologies, more specifically on how currencies interact with each other. Nelms’ presentation at MoneyLab focused on mobile money, and particularly p2p transactions (read more…)

Saturday, March 23

Session 5: Bitcoin and Beyond

Eduard de Jong – Cash or Currency: an Overview of Electronic Payment Technology

Eduard de Jong started the session on Saturday with a brief history of digital currencies. First of all, he explained, it is important to understand what we mean when we say “electronic currency”: electrons that represent monetary value (read more…)

Peter Šurda – Some Misconceptions about Bitcoin, and Why It Is Best Left Ungoverned

Economist Peter Šurda made a case against a hierarchical monetary system in his talk “Why is Bitcoin misunderstood: hierarchical vs. decentralized structure of society”. The barriers set for people to entry the money creation and circulation in a centralized banking system, in combination with discretionary monetary policy, lead to a segmented society that Šurda labels as the “privileged vs. unprivileged class” structure (read more…)

Beat Weber – Overcoming the Legitimacy Crisis of Money with Bitcoin?

Beat Weber’s presentation, “Overcoming the Legitimacy Crisis of Money with Bitcoin?” illustrated concerns over whether or not Bitcoin could support functioning economies. Weber’s succinct answer was: Bitcoin can never become legitimate, for it is “unstable by design” (read more...)

Quinn DuPont – Bitcoin: Leveraging Cryptography Against The Control Society

In his talk titled “From Order To Control: How Cryptography Functions in Bitcoin”, researcher Quinn DuPont discussed Bitcoin as a case study for cryptography. Cryptography is loaded with politics, DuPont believes, “politics of liberation, freedom, community, all with an explicitly anarchist tone” (read more…)

Session 6: Alternatives Bazaar on Stage

Fresh Projects in the Alternatives Bazaar

The Alternatives Bazaar on stage made its debut with Geheimagentur, a project from Germany that started out as a protest against the conventional banking system and as an art installation (“the bank of burning money”). Later on, the project developed into a solution for impoverished communities in Germany (read more…)

Session 7: Critique of Crowdfunding

Inge Ejbye Sørensen – Peer to Peer or Mine to Mine? A Critique of Crowdfunding

Inge Ejbye Sørensen is a researcher in digital economy and culture at University of Glasgow and also a documentary filmmaker herself. She has a particular interest in how crowdfunding changes the landscape of documentary film production and distribution in the U.K. She began her presentation “Peer to Peer or Mine to Mine? – A Critique of Crowdfunding” by making it clear that crowdfunding supports established names rather than newcomers in this creative industry (read more…)

Irina Enache and Robert van Boeschoten – Visualizing Crowdfunding and Beyond

Irina Enache and Robert van Boeschoten introduced MoneyLab’s interactive Crowdfunding Visual Toolkit to the audience during the seventh session on the final day of the conference. Enache is an alternative revenue models researcher for the Institute of Network Cultures, specifically for the Moneylab project, and Van Boeschoten is a lecturer at Universiteit voor Humanistiek, with an academic background in crowdfunding (read more…)

Jamie King – A Laboratory for Co-funded Action

Jamie King’s presented “ – a laboratory for co-funded action” that aims to support movements of all shapes and sizes, given that “Kickstarter can’t fund a protest”. King is better known as a filmmaker who created and released the film “Steal This Film” on BitTorrent in 2007 with the League of Noble Peers. The film interviewed members of the Pirate Bay and further opened up discussions on the influence of P2P networks (read more…)

Session 8: Designing Alternatives

Max Haiven – The Dark Arts of Reimagining Money

The Reimagining Money project explores the aesthetic and cultural aspects of money through research and presentation of a variety of media. Initiated by Max Haiven, Assistant Professor in Art History and Critical Studies at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, the project positions money as “a medium of the imagination,” a means of collectively visualizing our network of social relations (read more…)

Matthew Slater – Cryptocurrencies: Designing Alternatives

The late afternoon session on Saturday was dedicated to the theme of “Designing Alternatives”. Matthew Slater, a software activist from the UK, introduced the prototype of an online platform implementing the crypto currency payment method. Slater has been building an open-source mutual credit system for five years now. As co-founder of Swiss NGO Community Forge and a community currency consultant, he helps host around 80 communities’ web sites, from donations only (read more…)

Eli Gothill – from the Muslim Trade Routes to Twitter’s #PunkMoney

At the crossroad between social media activism and performance art comes Eli Gothill and his project #PunkMoney. Gothill, a young software developer and a blogger on the future of money, started his experiment in October 2011, a short time after the beginning of the Occupy protests. His motivation, he admits, was first of all a political one (read more…)

Lana Swartz – Venture Capital for the Alternative Innovations in the Money Space?

Lana Swartz stepped into the money field in 2011, at an event sponsored by parties involved with a “traditional alternative economic practice” debating the future of money and how to better organize it. While participants were organizations working with alternative currency, sharing economies and such, all speakers were start-ups or marketing gurus from the Silicon Valley, an aspect Swartz found very interesting (read more…)