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"Forks in Time: Algorhythms and new spaces of capital on Bitcoin and Ethere...

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Dodson Room, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre UBC Library

Vancouver Campus 1961 East Mall

Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1

Canada

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There has been a surge of academic research on cryptocurrencies and their underlying blockchain protocols in recent years, yet scant attention has focused on the relationship between blockchains and time. This study builds upon Kitchin and Coletta’s concept of ‘algorhythmic governance’ and Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of a refrain in order to examine the shifting and plural temporalities that animate blockchains. Using ethnographic methods, I examine algorhythmic governance through two hard fork events that occurred on the Bitcoin and Ethereum networks: the Bitcoin Legacy/Cash hard fork on August 1st, 2017, and the “rollback” of the Ethereum blockchain following the DAO hack on July 20th, 2016. Both hard forks led to the creation of new blockchains and cryptocurrencies. Hard fork events, which involve one blockchain implementation separating into two different and forward-incompatible protocols, illustrate software’s capacity to generate new instantiations of time. Blockchains resulting from hard fork events, in turn, produce new spaces of capital, involve previously unseen forms of ‘on-chain’ governance, and incite opportunities for arbitrage. My analysis reveals that the algorhythms of blockchains, especially through hard fork events, accelerate the accumulation of speculative wealth and the spread of uneven development.

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Dodson Room, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre UBC Library

Vancouver Campus 1961 East Mall

Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1

Canada

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