Fridays 7am PST / 4pm CET
XORG (Experimental organizations): Playing organization into existence
Working session on games as organizations. ECSA Zoom
Tuesdays 930am PST / 6.30pm CET
Distributed Stake Issuance and Matching Protocol: A Weekly Demo
Tuesday, Jan 17th, 2023
Economic Paper Reading Group Chapter 3: Re-Imagining Markets
11pmSan Fran/2pm NYC/ 4pm São Paulo/8pm Berlin/9pm Helsinki/Wed6amSydney
ECSA Zoom2 https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83493028036
January 11-20, 2023
ECSA New York Sessions
October 25, 2022
University of Sydney
Cryptocurrencies as Units of Account
We think it is the unit of account function of money that is the most interesting and important in crypto’s connection to generating social change. This is the function that expresses the social system of calculation – it is specific to each society and it articulates social values by what it is able to count (and not count). It is in this domain that cryptocurrencies can be truly socially transformative.
The concept of unit of account, sometimes called ‘money of account’, is subject to some popular confusion. When the state declares a fiat currency as legal tender, it also names its currency: the Bolivian boliviano, Libya dinar, Samoan tālā and Icelandic krona, etc. Many people think that a currency’s name is what the term ‘unit of account’ means. But if this declaration of a name were all that’s implied by the term ‘unit of account’ it would be a superficial feature of any money, and scarcely warranting identification as one of the three functions of money.
The critical point of emphasis in its function is unit of account, meaning unit of valuation; a means by which assets can be valued, and hence compared quantitatively with each other. That emphasis immediately resonates with blockchain technology, for blockchains are distributed ledgers, recording quantities of valued things. So the question of ‘unit of account’ is the question of what and how a blockchain will measure and record on a ledger. Any cryptocurrency has the capacity, should it be an intentional design feature, to create (or create the conditions for) new means of valuing, and hence the choice of ‘how to attribute value’ in ways different from capitalism.
Here Dick talks about the three ECSA propositions of how the unit of account function of money can be seen as the key to making cryptocurrencies/cryptotokens a force for social and economic change. In the process, we depict three distinct dimensions of units of account and present the argument that each dimension can be revealed in network design, outside the decree of the state and not constrained by compliance with ‘the profit system’.
September 29 - 3 October, 2022
Moosdorfstraße 7-9, 12435 Berlin
ECSA Berlin Office
Economic Space Agency team was in work for a few weeks in Berlin and opened the office for a long weekend.
Our starting points for the Berlin Office: (1) The economy is a programmable space. It is catching up with the new substrate of high speed computer networks with high informational capacities, bandwidth and connectivity. They are elevating the economy into something that resembles an expressive medium. (2) As a medium, the economy is fundamentally a communication and writing system: an economic messaging protocol. (3) Understanding the economy this way–as a communication network on a programmable substrate–reveals our economic relationships to be networking protocols. (4) We believe economic networks are the new economic abstraction, a value-producing, value-sharing and value-expressing form of informationally mediated society. Economic networks will be for Web3 what social networks were for Web2, and “shared keyword” networks were for Web1. (5) The key to making them accessible is in their programmability. (6) Accessibility means ability to define value, what counts as liquidity, what as collateral. So not values just as ideas, stripped of power; here, values as new kinds of assets and collateral that can enter into circulation and change the outcome of events large and small. (7) This expressive power needs to be made accessible — programmable economy must be endlessly, ceaselessly made accessible to all, with equal functionality and equal rights of expression. That is why our economic networks need to become distributed.
At the office, among others: Akseli Virtanen, Dick Bryan, Jorge Lopez, Jonathan Beller, Pekko Koskinen, Joel Mason, Roberto Soundy, Mikael Brygger, Matthew Slater, Tomaž Fleischman, Jakub Lanc, Pablo Ruano, Michele Inovino, Jesse Janssen, Lio Mondano, Marleena Halonen, Orion Reed, Aleksa Stojanović.
September 26 -Septermber 28
University of Oxford
OxBAT 2022: Oxford Blockchain, Art & Technology Conference
September 12-18, 2022
ETH Berlin, Berlin Blockchain Week
August 26 -September 2, 2022
Reichenau an der Rax
Crypto Commons Gathering 2022
A really nice gathering again organized by Felix and Guilio. ECSA sessions on the Economic Grammar of the Multitude, Protocols for creating distributed economic networks (Economic Media), Metamuseum, Robin Hood Decentralized, ECSA Labs, and XORG (experimental organizations). By ECSA core members Pekko Koskinen, Akseli Virtanen and friends.
July 22-23, 2022
Non-Fungible Tokens and Their Impact on Art, Creation, Curation
Over the last couple of years, Non-Fungible Tokens stormed into the creation of arts and, even more so, the art market. New forms of visual arts have developed, and existing artworks are increasingly represented by NFTs. Some of them gain outraging prices. Nevertheless, the general comprehension of what exactly NFTs are, how they influence the creation of visual art, what their legal effects are and should be, and how they affect incentives and values in art markets is far from complete. The conference assembles artists, lawyers, and economists from outstanding institutions to discuss these issues. Among them Pekko Koskinen from the ECSA team, on “After NFTs: Art and Its New Formalism”. More on the Program.
November 29, 2021
Metaverse X Finance
Metaverse is eating finance, including the foundational categories of money, assets, yield and wealth.
The economy is moving on a programmable substrate. Cryptoeconomy is not just another asset class or just a new tech sector. It is a different way of doing the economy. It unlocks novel ways of organizing economic activity, owning and engaging intangible assets and incentivizing human behavior using programmatic systems. It is the economic interaction plumbing necessary for the emergence of the Metaverse.
What should we understand about the different asset types, including the yield bearing, revenue producing, cash flow and asset backed tokens? Where is the cryptomarket heading, what does the on-chain data tell us about the most promising projects right now? How to take advantage of blockchain as technology across sectors while mitigating the downside risk? What kind of investment vehicles and strategies are available? What are the critical components of cryptonative asset management? What should a careful investor understand about the asset class and counterparty risk and how they can be managed? Where do the exponential returns and yields come from? What are NFTs and why are they so interesting from the investment perspective? What novel skills are required to assess the potential of assets that don’t lend themselves easily to the traditional tools of analysis that have supported debt and equity markets for decades?
August 28 - September 2, 2021
Hirschwang an der Rex, Austria
July 22, 2021
Essex Business School & Kaplan Singapore
Alternative Finance / Rethinking Financial Education Symposium
May 18, 2021
The Derivative Condition
March 26-28, 2021
MoneyLab #10 Berlin: Disaster Capitalism
I MONEY TALKS – NFTS AND BEYOND. CRYPTO AS A MEDIA FOR NEW ECONOMIC EXPRESSION
The aim of the session is to do some collective sense making around NFTs – what are they, why are they interesting, and why now? – especially around how they are opening the avenue for thinking crypto as a new network creation media (economic-organizational media), a medium for creating and expressing new value forms (value-creating&sharing-networks) that characterize the information age. So what are NFTs? Why are they interesting? What are they opening up, and how? What are the concerns about them and the current financial imagination around them? What are the important political, aesthetic, informational and financial changes they are a part of or pointing to? How to use the session.
II XORG: INTRODUCTION TO GAME-BASED, EXPERIMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS
ECSA is formulating a grammar for expressing post-capitalist economic organizations. As part of this process, we’re offering XORG Initiative, together with Supermarkt, RYBN.org, Goldin & Senneby, YKON, Robin Hood Coop, BlockScience, m-cult, Breadchain and FRAME among others. XORG utilizes games as a structural medium for organizations. The different fields of game design suggest different methods for drafting organizations. For example, roleplaying games offer structures for meaningful events and forging novel social entities. Organizations can be “played into existence” with methods of playtesting, even by fragments. For example, playstorming starts from the first interactions without a full game around you. The structural variety of games is a reservoir for potential organizations. For example, the different point structures reflect most tokens used in cryptoeconomies; but they also hold many possibilities yet to be considered. In sum: organizational design can resemble game design; organizational realization can operate as play. Session documentation. Introductory interview with Pekko Koskinen.
Join the XORG Telegram group
Pekko Koskinen on organization as an art of rights structures
November 25, 2020
MetaGov Seminar on ECSA Organizational Grammar
Pekko Koskinen (ECSA lead game designer and an organizational artist) has designed some quite famous indie games, but also a religion (played for years in a weird town in northern Finland), a populist politician, and some seriously surrealist economies for metaverse.
Our experience of organization: It is unbelievably difficult to design good organizational protocols, and even harder to implement them. This has made us respect the legacy legal organizational structures and their traditions much more. Yet, we do approach both organization and economy always as a game.
ECSA has different legal organizations (a Delaware C-corp, a Finnish Cooperative, A Swiss Foundation, A Swiss Association) which we are using as interfaces/tools for accomplishing different purposes – imitating in this sense what the global multinational corporations have been doing for a long time. And we have a virtual “protocol organization” which controls our ledgers, guides the interfaces and which has also had different forms – a Cyber Partnership, Federated Node Structure, a Protocol Library – and it is here where we concentrate on this discussion: We’ll talk shortly on the historical perspective, what have we learned about “protocol organization”, especially what have the pain points been. Then how we are approaching organization right now as creating “rights/capabilities structures”, because they create at the same time both the governance and the economic forms. (We’ve been creating a toolbox/grammar for expressing such compositions easily). And lastly: what are we solving for, right now, with the next iteration of ECSA “rights structure” (the ECSA protocol organization, aka ECSA Codex).
Here is the framework of ECSA Organizational grammar (Space) as an art of rights structures.
Jorge Lopez on ECSA Economic Grammar
November 11, 2020
MetaGov Seminar on ECSA Economic Grammar: Protocols for Post-Capitalist Expression
What is that new thing that the native properties of the emerging p2p networking technology actually make possible (vs. doing the same finance just with a more capable substrate)?
ECSA’s answer is: a post-capitalist economic media.
But what does that mean? It means the production of many different “values” and the use of DeFi-like money market, credit, staking & exchange protocols for collateralizing, circulating and allowing many different kinds of values (like for example care, research, the environment, open source….) to access the accounting system, become stakeable and conceptualized as “surplus”.
The economic networking protocols ECSA is designing allow the expression of any informational event or activity (and their compositions) as a value proposition, their encoding into a token form and entering into a value accounting, staking, collateralizing and circulation system. This is called “performance” in the economic paper; and the paper outlines a value theory of performance.
The Economic Space Protocol forms (A) a partition resistant & scalable market place [distributed exchange protocol] (B) a distributed payment & settlement network [distributed credit issuance & clearance protocol], and (C) distributed risk-sharing/ownership formation network [distributed equity protocol] among n-parties for these multi-dimensional value performances and their productions.
By doing this it also allows the expression of distributed production organization around these values (kind of like DAOs… but more expressible, composable, flexible, granular i.e. where multiple agents can at the same time participate in the design and operating of shared ownership/risk-sharing structures).
Together these capabilities combine into a new medium, or a new grammar, for economic-organizational expression. It is a new kind of internet native and very expressive economic platform for the information age.
The nature of our “economy” (our economic-organizational composition) is bound by the expressivity of the language that can conceive it. We have created a much more expressive language/medium – which is free to use and gives everyone the same capacities of expression – to describe and participate in our economic-organizational formations.
30 September, 2020
Token Engineering Switzerland
Stablecoins Demystified: The Why, How & Where
Akseli Virtanen talking about stability, volatility and ECSA’s long-volatility strategy: creating new stabilities. Also how the ECSA analysis from the very beginning of 2020 saw what was about to happen in the macro landscape of money when the crisis hit, see What is Stability? The time for alternative money.
From the talk: “We would like to challenge the conventional understanding of monetary ‘stability’ and reconsider its significance for the role of stablecoins. Being stable with respect to a fiat currency (or a basket of fiat currencies) is one take on stability, but it embeds the primacy of fiat over crypto, and leaves the stability of fiat currencies unquestioned. In this context, stablecoins are being styled as the acceptable face of crypto because they are a crypto version of fiat: the US dollars you hold when you don’t hold US dollars. But where do you go when you want to dissent from fiat, when you want to take a stand against fiat by betting against it (shorting it) and finding new stability from a different set of economic and social relations. For make no mistake, money is a social relation.
We think the latter is the real social potential of cryptoeconomy. It provides an opportunity to re-think the social role of money, and the social incentives that are embedded in fiat currency — money as a series (protocols) of social relations. And if and when fiat currencies face their next future crisis, we want to be talking already about what new stabilities — new social relations, processes and goals that we believe should be constant; new metrics of stability — we are advocating. This is the issue we should pose of every aspiring token: what is its own notion of inter-temporal stability that it claims to secure?”
September 19-20, 2020
Töölönlahdenkatu 4, Helsinki
MoneyLab #9 Helsinki: Playgrounds for Post-Capitalism
MONEYLAB #9 HELSINKI: Playgrounds for Post-Capitalism
Moneylab #9 Playgrounds for Post-Capitalism starts from the situation where our core economic infrastructure is moving fully onto a programmable medium. In short, the economy is becoming programmable. What does this mean? One way to think about it is this: just like social networking applications gave us social media, the emerging economic networking applications will give us economic media. How we relate to each other economically will be remediated by applications in exactly the same sense that our social relations already are. Crowdfunding, p2p lending, cryptocurrencies, liquidity farming, automated market makers, DeFi and DAOs are just the first baby steps of this transformation.
The economy and its key conventions – money, markets, debt, equity, liquidity, who can issue and clear, how are we organized together and share the risks and upsides, what counts as liquidity, what counts as collateral, what counts as value and who decides about these – are opening up as playgrounds for expression. And we want to express, experiment, play, speculate and fabulate! We want to profanate finance: return it to common use and play!
Marshall McLuhan (1964) famously said that the message of any new medium is the change of scale or pace or pattern it introduces to human affairs. In MoneyLab #9 we want to ask: If the media is the message, what is the message of economic media? What change of scale or pace or pattern does it introduce to human affairs? That might be the political question of our age.
It is clear that post-capitalism will be a financial system. And that only a critical appropriation of the language and protocols of finance can bring forth the subjectivity required to move post capitalism. Perhaps the real potential of cryptoeconomy and decentralized finance is here: that it allows us to start creating social derivatives, collective risk generating and arbitraging practices, speculating and leveraging on our capacity to act together, on a certain gap or on opportunity, and collectively enjoy the upside.
MoneyLab #9 addresses potential tools that we have available, from experimental digital cooperatives to new cryptographically enabled organizational forms. We also experiment with the possibilities of games for prototyping economies: How could play get us beyond theory and bridge between creativity and practical realities of future, people-driven economies.
Money Lab Helsinki is co-produced by m-cult and Economic Space Agency in cooperation with the Institute of Network Cultures (NL), Supermarkt Berlin (DE) and Oodi Central Library.|
KEY NOTE SESSION VIDEOS:
Economic Media with Geert Lovink, Jonathan Beller and Akseli Virtanen
What comes after DeFi? With Dick Bryan and Akseli Virtanen
Experiments in Governance with Primavera De Filippi, Ela Kagel, Nathan Schneider, Colin Drumm & Pekko Koskinen
Crypto-Cooperatives with Ana Fradique, Jyrki Jauhiainen and Akseli Virtanen
What is post-capitalism as a financial system?
July 2-23 2020
The Economic Space Protocol – Towards the Internet Economic System. Pre-alpha review.
What is an internet native economy? What is “post-capitalism” as a financial system? What is “economic media”? What is a “spread” between the network capacities of the economy with internet architecture and the network capacities of the current capitalist economy? What is “living in the spread”?
READING: The Economic Space Protocol: Section 1/Introduction + Section 2/Design Principles
1.1 The economy is a network; its protocols designable
1.2 The vision: The economy with internet architecture
1.3 Post-capitalism is a financial system
1.4 The ECSA offer: The long position and the Big Put
1.5 Outline of the Economic Paper
2 Design Principles of the Economic Space Protocol are the same as those of the Internet Protocols
LISTENING (11min): What is the ECSA vision? Economic grammar for the information age Discussion with Akseli and Dick, at Supermarkt, Berlin 24.9.2019.
Akseli Virtanen: Rethinking Money and Credit in a Cryptoeconomy
March 7-8, 2020
Cryptoeconomic Systems Journal Conference
MIT, Cambridge, MA
MIT CRYPTOECONOMIC SYSTEMS JOURNAL/ISSUE 1 CONFERENCE
What is going on? Economy is moving onto a programmable medium
What is ECSA doing? Reprogramming the infrastructure on which debt and equity operate
What is the result? Credit-for-mutual-liquidity and equity-for-mutual-stakeholding represent a profound change in the future economic roles of debt and equity.
In short: We show that functionalist definitions of money (unit of account, means of exchange, store of value, standard of deferred payment) shut down the broader question of what money is in the era of its digital redesignability, and instead limit the definition of money to operationalizing ‘fiatness’. We show that the basic functions of money (unit of account, means of exchange, store of value, standard of deferred payment) should be disaggregated and protocolized separately, because they are different building blocks of the social, and furthermore, that by understanding money as a set of protocols (and not as a “coin”), it can be redesigned to acquire further functionality.
We first identify a different framing for the functions of money that emerges out of distributed issuance – money issued through a distributed exchange protocol. We then turn to perhaps the most conspicuous apprehension about mutually-issued tokens: how to secure their liquidity? We then show how a distributed issuance of credit can ensure that the economy does not freeze when there is a blockage in the distributed ledger matching process. In a system where all agents can participate in issuance within the distributed exchange protocol and network, when offer matching is mediated through a common asset (or unit of account), netting enables exchange and settlement to occur without the need to actually hold the common asset (or unit of account). It means a non-money-intermediated means of liquidity: a distributed monetary system that can secure liquidity without the need for central control of issuance/un-issuance of a money instrument.
The distributed exchange protocol constitutes the backbone of a distributed clearing house and payment system. The goal of the mutual liquidity protocol we propose is not to issue credit with the objective of seeking an income stream (interest payment of debt), but a mutual responsibility for securing inter-temporal matching on a ledger. Credit-for-mutual- liquidity and equity-for-mutual-stakeholding represent a profound change in our understanding of the economic roles of debt and equity.
ECSA Team in Santa Cruz
Session on the Dealer Function with Colin Drumm
February 5-13, 2020
SANTA CRUZ SESSION III: ECSA TEAM RETREAT
ECSA Team Retreat in Santa Cruz. We worked together on two three things, for 10 days.
(1) The iteration 3 of the ECSA protocol organization: open sourcing ECSA, distributing ECSA. An important piece in our work, maybe the most important, has been the development of, and experimenting with, our own organizational protocol. How to set up a robust and resilient infrastructural-legal interface for the long term success of an open source infrastructural project like ECSA. It needs to allow a heterogenous enough team from many areas of expertise and intellectual backgrounds to create together for a long enough time. That is hard! And we need to have an organizational protocol that allows both open and flexible engagement and participation, but also more focused and tighter organized sub-teams coordinated by a virtual keel of peer-to-peer stakeholding and risking together. This is the ECSA organizational protocol iteration 3.
(2) Human relating, to the protocol, and even to another human. The feeling and affect in the team. Also tensions and conflicts. We have learned that the value emerges out of little differences, frictions, disagreements, even conflicts, from staying in the trouble of cooperation. That is hard! We have learned that the creative energy of many different people coming together and co-operating produces small inventions, ideas, innovations: continuous small non-personal changes, the small ideas that joint effort continuously creates. That creation of value means the creation of new (interpersonal, social, political, aesthetic, economic, emotional) relations. Basically, that is what the creation of new economic space in the end means. It is a very different logic to a market, to a hierarchy, or to some kind of collectivist logic. It questions an idea of rational decision making, an individual rational decision maker-actor with her clear boundaries. Instead important are compassion, sympathy, imitation, repetition, innovation. And we need to nurture that.
(3) We’ve also learned that for the value (the little difference) to become economic, it needs social quantification, social adaptation, social repetition-ability. The third thing we worked on was our communication and messaging. That is hard! What is our vision? What is our product? What are the breakthroughs? Who are the users and how are we going to reach them? You will see the results soon :).
ECSA team Akseli Virtanen, Ben Lee, Ana Fradique, James Foley, Jon Beller at MIT
A distributed Exchange Protocol Jorge Lopez (Chief Architect, ECSA)
October 5-6, 2019
Protocols for Cryptoeconomic Networks. MIT Cryptoeconomic Systems Summit
MIT’s Cryptoeconomic Systems Summit special session on the ECSA economic white paper. “We show how a distributed issuance of credit can ensure that the economy does not freeze when there is a blockage in the distributed ledger matching process. In a system where all agents can participate in issuance within the distributed exchange protocol and network, when offer matching is mediated through a common asset (or unit of account), netting enables exchange and settlement to occur without the need to actually hold the common asset (or unit of account). It means a non-money-intermediated means of liquidity: a distributed monetary system that can secure liquidity without the need for central control of issuance/un-issuance of a money instrument. The distributed exchange protocol constitutes the backbone of a distributed clearing house and payment system. The goal of the mutual liquidity protocol we propose is not to issue credit with the objective of seeking an income stream (interest payment of debt), but a mutual responsibility for securing inter-temporal matching on a ledger. Credit-for-mutual-liquidity and equity-for-mutual-stakeholding represent a profound change in our understanding of the economic roles of debt and equity.” From Money and credit in a cryptoeconomy
Please find more videos of the Event in our Library here
ECSA team Eugenio Battaglia, Fabian Bruder, Robin Vodruba at work
September 23-24, 2019
A Shared Economic Grammar: ECSA x DAOIncubator at Supermarkt
What is ECSA’s economic vision and what is its strategy? Why is “disintermediation” not enough? What changes when economy and its key conventions – like money, markets, credit, unit of account, issuance, clearing, liquidity etc. – in themselves become programmable? When they become distributed as protocols? When their grammar becomes shared like a language and they turn into media of expression?
What does a distributed economy mean, why is it important, and what are its conditions? How does ECSA’s take on economy differ from Radical Markets and from Hayek and his digital disciples? What happens to money, market, price, unit of account, issuance, and credit when they become distributed as protocols (as a shared grammar)? What if different functions of money were organized separately by different protocols? What is a peer-to-peer value creation, issuance and credit? What are the protocols of securing liquidity in a distributed cryptoeconomy? What is a distributed clearinghouse and how does it work? What is p2p credit? How does p2p stakeholding work?
Jonathan Beller: A Peer-to-Peer Value Creation System
Dick Bryan & Akseli Virtanen: What is Stability?
Podcast: ECSA Vision: Akseli Virtanen and Dick Bryan at Supermarkt, Berlin 24.9.2019
Podcast: Crypto-political Economy. Akseli Virtanen & Dick Bryan at Supermarkt, Berlin, 25.9.2019
Eugenio, Lene, Pekko and Akseli playing ECSA with legos
July 16-18, 2019
Full Node, Berlin
ECSA Team Creation and Play Sessions
Building economic space together is a special mission; re-creating subjectivities in post-capitalism is a task equally important as it is delicate. We steadily learn from each other: What is ECSA culture? How do we relate to each other? What does not work? What do we want to change?
These testing rounds are a paramount to what we want ECSA to be: a virtual keel, a strategy for coming together to cross-stabilize and amplify each other, to systemically allow multiple identities, within which firm and flexible relations emerge.
ECSA team Akseli Virtanen, Pekko Koskinen, Lene Vollhardt, Erik Bordeleau, Joanthan Beller in Berlin
May 6, 2019
Haus der Statistik, Berlin
After Scarcity: Propositions for a Post-Hayekian Economy. With Kim Stanley Robinson
For many of us, computer technology seems almost inseparable from the corporate hypercapitalism of Silicon Valley. In “After Scarcity”, Bahar Noorizadeh explores the soviet cybernetic past in search of our possible post-neoliberal future. “How might we use computation to get us out of our current state of digital feudalism and towards new possible utopias? Afterall, what would Vladimir “socialism is electricity plus statistic” Lenin have to say about blockchain?” https://dis.art/after-scarcity/info
This fascinating 30 min. sci-fi essay film will act as a free indirect entry point for a wider discussion around the disruptive potential of crypto- and cyber-economies. Including: Stefan Heidenreich’s recent work around a non-money economy partly based on algorithmic matching formulas, and ECSA’s general proposal to build a financial and computational infrastructure for post-hayekian economy.
ECSA team Jorge Lopez, Dick Bryan, Pekko Koskinen, Bob Meister, Benjamin Lee at work in Santa Cruz
April 4-9, 2019
ECSA Economic White Paper, Santa Cruz Session II
Economic white paper sessions. We have been working for some time now quite intensively with something we are very excited about: the Economic Space Agency economic white paper Protocols for Cryptoeconomic Networks. It is in a pre-alpha private review, so still worked on, parts unfinished, and not yet publicly shared — but if you would like to join the process of rethinking economic conventions as protocols, and thus as a design space, please just contact me — we are happy to share the text. We have realized that we are creating a language for new economic expression. It is an economic language that can express capitalist network protocols, but even more, it can go beyond them. It can encompass capitalist value calculus, but express more qualified values and refuse their collapse into the monological value-expression that disqualifies non-money values as economic externalities. It is capable of valuing, for example, the biosphere, care, intangibles and social innovation — without reducing their information into one index of price and one measuring unit of profitability. It is a post-capitalist language (a language for post-capitalist economic expression), in a literal sense. A new economic grammar for the information age.
Joel Mason with the mic, with Cassio Santiago, Pekko Koskinen, Erik Bordeleau, Jonathan Beller, Akseli Virtanen, at Trust
March 10-12 2019
Trust & Haus der Statistik, Berlin
How to Short Capitalism? The Crypto-Political Economy of Economic Space Agency.
Economic Space Agency is building the next generation network infrastructure for programmable economies. Most blockchain and distributed ledger technologies applications are oriented toward the creation of distributed markets, reinforcing rather than disrupting oligarchic concentration of wealth over time and questioning what “value” is actually traded. ECSA offers something different: a fully integrated, commons-oriented approach to cryptoeconomy. Activities currently deemed desirable but unprofitable and unmeasurable – for example care, art, affect, biosphere enhancement – can not only now be expressed as value-creating activity, but they can also be synchronised and cross-referenced with each other in a way that gives them liquidity.
ECSA team on stage in Siegen: Erik Bordeleau, Jon Beller, James Foley, Pekko Koskinen, Fabian Bruder, Jacky Vu
Akseli Virtanen on cryptoeconomic protocols
7-8 March 2019
Infrastructures of Money. ECSA at Moneylab, Siegen
How can cryptographically enabled distributed economic-organizational systems – aka economic spaces – allow for the building of a radically different political economy and modes of collective individuation? The capitalist profit extracting value calculus and its implied take on “rationality” is a design environment that is geared toward a certain kind of optimal behavior. It is a protocol for the kind of people and sociality it requires to function, seeking, nudging, sifting up and training players toward the required and desired (game theoretic, axiomatized expected utility seeking) competencies – the programmatic abstraction called homo oeconomicus. Economic agencies and DAO’s of different natures are designed to think like corporations and compete in the next level of economic game going ahead. Without techno-social devices and infrastructures that operate at the protocol level for reshaping the economic gamespace toward commons-oriented purposes, we are left without politics, incapable of addressing and intervening efficiently in the processes redefining our rapidly evolving and fragmenting future. Program: MoneyLab, Siegen
ECSA Tem Benjamin Lee, Jonathan Beller, Pekko Koskinen at NYU/Stern
16-18 October 2018
New York University / Stern Business School
Cryptoeconomic Working Session II
The Economic Space Agency project is to create new (post-capitalist) economic space and tools for people to start operating and exploring this space. We think we are discovering a new distributed value form and value calculus which are different to the capitalist commodity form and calculation of value. If this is true, it means reorganization and reproduction of economic space itself.
The ECSA token system can be framed as a put option on capitalist value calculation: people buying the ECSA token are purchasing access and relation to new value forms and thus a difference to capitalist calculation of value. ECSA is offering the right for agents to part with/sell out of capitalist calculus of value. We call it a put option as a statement of our long position as a difference to valuing and calculating just “profit” — the value of a put option rises as the value of the underlying asset (capitalist value, or more precisely, capitalist perspective on value, how it is created and captured) declines. In this session we explain the ‘big put’ as an exploration of how to organize the production of value and how calculate value in ways different from those that define capitalism.
Jorge Lopez working his way through the ECSA Tech Stack, Starfish, San Francisco
October 4, 2018
Starfish, San Francisco
ECSA Tech Stack – A Technical Session
An exploration session on the lower levels of the ECSA Tech Stack: Distributed runtime + Programmable language for organization + protocols for value expression, measurement & exchange.
Gravity: Distributed Runtime. Gravity node provides with secure computational containment, serialization, persistence, networking, and hardware interfaces to be utilized up the stack.
Gravity Protocol: Informational Integrity. The Gravity protocol provides event ordering, scaling, strong security, fail recovery and high availability. It ensures network wide consistency, and enables distributed atomic transactions.
Space: Organizational Expression. Space is a capability oriented organizational development environment and language to easily reason about, describe and program organizations.
Space Protocol: Organizational Interoperability. The Space Protocol allows distributed applications “Spaces” to interoperate, regardless of their implementation substrate.
Planning the session: Akseli Virtanen, Kim Stanley Robinson, Dick Bryan and Jorge Lopez at Davis
October 3, 2018
Starfish, San Francisco
The Big Put: On Post-Capitalist Value Forms and Value Calculus
The ECSA token system can be framed as a put option on capitalist value calculation: people buying the ECSA token are purchasing access and relation to new value forms and thus a difference to capitalist calculation of value. ECSA is offering the right for agents to part with/sell out of capitalist calculus of value. We call it a put option as a statement of our long position as a difference to valuing and calculating just “profit” — the value of a put option rises as the value of the underlying asset (capitalist value, or more precisely, capitalist perspective on value, how it is created and captured) declines. In this session we explain the ‘big put’ as an exploration of how to organize the production of value and how calculate value in ways different from those that define capitalism. Program. Organized by Starfish, Mission, San Francisco.
Jorge presenting at Token Engineering, London
Token Engineering, London
Distributed Exchange, Synthetic Indices & Network Derivatives
Space is a modular organizational grammar and an organizational development environment that allows us to describe agents, relationships, protocols and organizations through an offer centric association grammar. Space allows us to describe existing, but most excitingly, new organizational forms while allowing them to remain interoperable. Economic Space is a modular economic grammar – allowing not only decentralized exchange but also the design of distributed value production and its organization. It opens a new economic design space of a more longer term (persistent) and multidimensionally value creating social relationships (of belonging, interacting, governing, risking together) than just issuance and exchange of tokens which collapse relationships. Token Engineering Session #3, hosted by Outlier Ventures.
August 24-31 2018
Akademie der Kuenste, Berlin
Thousand Financial Plateaus. ECSA at Berlin Biennale’s Public Program
The Economic Space Agency (ECSA) conceives of finance as a creative medium and financialization as an artful practice with the potential to exceed the restrictions and extractions of the current market economy. With the emergence of smart contracts technologies, we see the potential for the cultivation of truly p2p ecosystems of value fueled by artists’ capacities to produce new aesthetic and social forms.
ECSA invites you to one day event at Berlin Biennale’s Public Program with presentations, discussions and collective making around new economic theory and design. Our starting points: (1) Economy has a history, and it has a future. (2) Finance is not primarily about monetary value but rather social-political design – a mode of coordinating the future and its emerging possibilities through the design of collective attractors. (3) The new network technologies will produce a radically different economy. Blockchain and smart contracts are making possible the open-sourcing of finance, turning economic and financial forms into modular toolkits. What future can we call into being through a re-programming of our social and financial protocols? What kind of new economic space and agency can we re-engineer?
A special thank you to Pedro Victor Brandão.
ECSA team Jackie Vu, Lene Vollhardt, Jenny Joy Miranda at work, Lohja retreat
July 27-August 22, 2018
ECSA Protocol Organization II, Team Retreat, Lohja, Finland
How to create a human relatable protocol organization? A network with consequences? A derivative community? That is held together by a virtual keel. That understands the new physics of the new economic space: voluntary organization, functional equivality, no central point of coordination, impossibility of turning into private property. Drafting of the ECSA Offer, Protocol Organization and Team Agreements. Part II, in Finland.
ECSA team at work in Portugal
July 4-11, 2018
Fortes Nuovos, Portugal
ECSA Protocol Organization I, Team retreat, Fortes Nouvos, Portugal
How to create a human relatable protocol organization? A network with consequences? A derivative community? That is held together by a virtual keel. That understands the new physics of the new economic space: voluntary organization, functional equivality, no central point of coordination, impossibility of turning into private property. Drafting of the ECSA Offer, Protocol Organization and Team Agreements. Part I, Portugal.
Dick Bryan talking about the unit of account at NYU/Stern
16-18 May 2018
New York University / Stern Business School
Cryptoeconomic Working Session I
In their money role, crypto-tokens can be an alternative unit of account, not just a means of exchange. They open a possibility to invoke a new measure of value, not just facilitate new processes of trade. As such, tokens can have a ‘backing’ in the value of output they facilitate, and not function simply as tools of speculative position-taking. Here is their radicalness, that they open a possibility of re-thinking and re-engineering what we understand by production. What are the new social units of production? How is such production measured as a social contribution? How is output distributed, accessed and owned? Re-defining and re-measuring production provides the material basis of the crypto economy — a basis that gives crypto-tokens a long-term future as the currency of an alternative economic logic. A different way of doing economy.
ECSA team on stage, Moderna Museet Stockholm
Moderna Museet Stockholm
Manipulate the World: The New Monetary Perspectivism of Economic Space Agency, Moderna Museet Stockholm
Moderna Museet invites you to discussions with artists and economists on cryptocurrencies and the future of the economy, with a specific focus on the practice of Economic Space Agency. ECSA was one of the key artists at the exhibition Manipulate the World – Connecting Öyvind Fahlström, with its special focus on manipulating the informational layer of our reality called finance and economy.
Öyvind Fahlström’s work “World Bank”, featured in the exhibition Manipulate the World, is closely linked to Economic Space Agency. A gold depot is at the centre of this staged installation, which is a geopolitical analysis of the world economy from 1971. “World Bank” is contemporary with the abandonment of the gold standard and the emergence of the current financialized economy which has come to define today’s debt relations, increasing concentration of capital and uneven distribution of risk.
Economic Space Agency is a startup company in San Francisco aimed at democratizing the financial sector. Their innovations in cryptocurrency – i.e. digital, non-governmental currencies such as bitcoin – have been described as “an alternative way of occupying Wall Street”. Their network extends from post-Marxist philosophers and human rights activists, to internet innovators and financial engineers.
Pierre Guillet de Monthoux, Jakob Senneby, Simon Goldin, Erik Bordeleau at the Stockholm School of Economics.
18-19 January 2018
Stockholm School of Economics
Economy and Its Conventions as a Design Question
Financial derivatives, blockchain and tokens are breaking the conventions of economic organization. Just as the formation of the joint stock company and the rise of stock markets from the 1840s transformed capitalism (and was the context in which Marx was re-framing our understanding of capital, accumulation, and surplus value) we are now at a turning point of similar significance. It is in the nature of a turning point that we must challenge conventional categories of analysis. The core ‘economic’ categories we need aren’t anymore the categories of the joint stock company and profit; nor are they going to be sufficiently clarified around issues of ‘intangible’ production; perhaps they are not even the emerging popular categories by which blockchain and tokens are being right now discussed. We need different frames of thinking about value and production.
AT ECSA, we create mutant organizations, wild financial instruments and economic pets.
ECSA Open Office Program.
Organized by Stockholm School of Economics
Full house, ECSA team at E-Flux, NYC
September 26-27, 2017
E-flux & Pratt, NYC
Cryptocurrencies and Its Discontents
The Occupy Wall Street movement raised an essential question that we haven’t quite been able to answer yet: How to occupy an abstraction? Financial capitalism hangs above our heads like an extractive cloud that escapes our grasp. It uses monetization as the mechanism by which social, cultural, economic, and ecological values are all flattened out and made equivalent to one another. And obviously, this whole extractive architecture is inherently hierarchical: some privileged few are allowed to issue money, while everyone else can only issue promises to pay money. How can we shift from the individual precarity generated by extractive finance to new forms of mutual indebtedness and metastable stakeholding? For starters, we need to conceive of money as a technical object of social design; that is, something that can and needs to be re-engineered to serve our collective aspirations. In that sense, the excitement around blockchain and crypto-currencies is an excitement around a new means of encryption that takes one huge step towards the democratization of finance through techniques of decentralization. Organized by E-Flux.
ECSA team Jorge Lopez and Duke Jones talking about poly-centricity and do-it-your-self blockchains at UC Berkeley
August 23, 2017
Poly-Centricity. Blokchain meets Object Capabilities, ECSA at UC Berkeley
How blockchain technologies can leverage the secure computation model of object capabilities to expand its reach, capacity, and interoperability towards open web platforms and open web infrastructure, without forsaking security and data sovereignty? Current blockchains provide trustless third parties and the ability to operate smart contracts on a public ledger. Meanwhile, object capabilities are based on transmitting tokens of authorities and rights that allow token-holders the ability to securely perform operations in a distributed system that is private, granular, and scalable. Blockchains make compromising information incredibly expensive through massive replication of data. Capabilities extend the promise of security through more light-weight mechanisms such as “Proof of Authority” and greater decentralization at the application layer.
Jorge at stage with Brian, Mark, Arthur, Zooko and Michael
July 3, 2017
Foresight Institute, San Francisco
The Next Frontier: Blockchain meets Object-Capabilities
On July 3rd GRAVITY is coming out of the garage, and co-hosting a symposium with the Foresight Institute at Alamo Square, SF, entitled, “The Next Frontier: Blockchain meets Object-Capabilities.” The panelists include Mark S. Miller, Zooko Wilcox, Brian Warner, and Jorge Lopez, and the discussion will be moderated by Michael Casey from MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative. For us, starting this dialogue is very important, because GRAVITY implements security and trust/trustlessness in a very different way compared to the more familiar approaches in blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum. The object capability framework, we feel, is less well-known than it deserves to be, and we hope that this event can create awareness of its possibilities by explaining how it expands the way in which distributed computation and ledger systems are currently seen.
ECSA team at work in Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, CA
Beyond Blockchain. Santa Cruz Sessions I
Value production is inherently networked. In order to thrive it needs an architecture as granular, scalable, and flexible as possible in order to accommodate the kinds of diverse applications and interactions that will, in turn, support its self-organization. We want to build an ecosystem in which everyone can launch and participate in crowdsales, and exchange tokens without breaking the network. For these reasons we are building Gravity: a new common infrastructure for the crypto-economy.
March 5-7 2017
The New School & The Pratt Institute, NYC
New Economic Spaces: Financialization and the Democratization of Financial tools
The Volatility Working Group (Emanuele Derman, Ben Lee, Robert Wosnitzer etc.), SenseLab (Erin Manning, Brian Massumi etc.) and Graduate Program in Media Studies at Pratt (Jonathan Beller etc.) joined Economic Space Agency to conduct a series of conversations on the current aporias and and possibilities of financialization. The topic at the table: the seemingly irresolvable problems posed by jobless society, capitalist hierarchy, climate injustice, racism, colonialization, neo-fascism in relation to the fact that the coming economic, political and financial structures are opening for design in front of our eyes. In what ways can the new network technologies and the reimagined financial technologies open new economic space?
Jorge Lopez and Mark S. Miller in conversation
November 11-14 2016
Omnicommons, Oakland, CA
Open Source Economy OS!
The classic. Open Source the Economy OS! ECSA’s first open office event in Oakland. Everybody was there: Dick Bryan, Brian Massumi, Jon Beller, Rafe Furst, Mark Miller, Bob Meister, Luciana Parisi, Erin Manning, Marina Gorbis, Robert Wosnitzer, Goldin & Senneby… Three intensive days followed by the late nights at the ECSA Garage.
“We believe that economic, social and technological trends are converging so that we can design and build tools to take more control over the operating system of the economy. Unexpected breakthroughs happen when software architects developing distributed computing and smart contract platforms, thinkers of finance who can work its ideological and organizational potentiality, legal hackers, political activists and social experimenters capable of engaging in such design, artists who are imagining new economic worlds come together in an inclusive atmosphere.
This is a radical moment: We are moving from the Euclidean economic space – a given, flat, rigid, non-changeable, zero-curvatured, linear economic space of equilibriums, scarce resources, neoclassical economics and game theoretical utility maximizing – into a Non-Euclidean economic space which is n-dimensional, topological, non-linear, synthetic, curving and moldable. It is a space where the laws of the old economy don’t hold and where we can start to do new things.”
ECSA Garage Oakland, CA