‘An Ethnography of Decentralised Information Infrastructure’: Adopting Cypherpunk Nomenclature To Categorise the Unique Attributes of Decentralised Technologies

15 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2021 Last revised: 11 May 2021

See all articles by Kelsie Nabben

Kelsie Nabben

RMIT University - Blockchain Innovation Hub; Digital Ethnography Research Centre; RMIT University - ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society

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 form 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=3752531 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3752531

Kelsie Nabben (Contact Author)

RMIT University - Blockchain Innovation Hub ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia

Digital Ethnography Research Centre ( email )

Melbourne
Australia

RMIT University - ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society

Building 97, RMIT University
106-108 Victoria Street
Carlton, 3053
Australia

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