Painting by Hilma av Klint
Download the thesis here (soon to be published in other more digestible formats and mediums, watch this space/ sign up below).
‘Blockchain’ was first introduced through the cryptocurrency Bitcoin and is a commonly held and continuously updated record of all bitcoin transactions that uses cryptographic hashing to register, validate and store transactions in a distributed manner. It consists of a “chain” of blocks of transaction data that have been verified and agreed on through a consensus algorithm in the network. The fact that the record of transactions is held, verified and added to through a decentralised computer network rather than by an authority like a bank (and that this process also determines the rate of money-supply in the system) is part of what makes it so radically new and different to existing systems and has spurred a wave of development of other blockchain projects beyond money and payment systems.
Distributing Chains is a PhD research project by Jaya Klara Brekke and was driven by the question of what matters politically in blockchain technology? By “matters” what is meant is literally mattering as in making a material difference in terms of effects of blockchain. By “politically” what is meant is the mediation and resolution of incompatible positions and the process through which the possible and impossible are distributed across spaces and domains.
The research led to a PhD thesis titled: Disassembling the Trust Machine, three cuts on the political matter of blockchain.
The PhD research was based in the Geography department of Durham University UK.