‘An Ethnography of Decentralised Information Infrastructure’: Adopting cypherpunk nomenclature to categorise the unique attributes of decentralised technologies

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See all articles by Kelsie Nabben

Kelsie Nabben

RMIT University - Blockchain Innovation Hub; Digital Ethnography Research Centre

Date Written: December 21, 2020

Abstract

Describing the attributes and characteristics has an important place in the ethnographic study of information infrastructure. Yet, decentralised information infrastructure does not have a clearly defined “ethnography”, by which to describe its unique attributes. This piece draws on historical research on the ‘cypherpunk mailing list’ archives to form a descriptive basis of the unique attributes of decentralised information infrastructure for ethnographic studies. The unique characteristics of decentralised information infrastructure outlined are: decentralised, autonomous, participatory, permissionless, ad hoc, encrypted, full-stack, modular, migratable, scalable, requires a community, trust gradient, and evolutionary. These characteristics forms a basis for further ethnographic enquiry into the opportunities and limitations of decentralised information infrastructure in society.

Keywords: decentralised, information infrastructure, blockchain, ethnography, digital

JEL Classification: D02, D80, O33, O35

Suggested Citation

Nabben, Kelsie, ‘An Ethnography of Decentralised Information Infrastructure’: Adopting cypherpunk nomenclature to categorise the unique attributes of decentralised technologies (December 21, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=

Kelsie Nabben (Contact Author)

RMIT University - Blockchain Innovation Hub ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia

Digital Ethnography Research Centre ( email )

Melbourne
Australia

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