Technology and Culture Reading Group

TCRG – School of Culture and Communication – University of Melbourne

Month: June, 2014

June 17: The Black Stack (Bratton)

by robbiefordyce

The Black Stack

Bratton @ Transmediale




Following our reading of Terranova’s Red Stack Attack, and last week’s reading of Maurer et al, we have our third part of our investigation into digital currencies: The Black Stack, by Bratton.

Bratton proposes the Stack as a new category for addressing geopolitical divisions. “In my analysis, there are six layers to this Stack: Earth, Cloud, City, Address, Interface, and User.” These divisions align and arrange a set of different relationships between different concepts of space and different individuals. Bratton proposes that we read these different layers as formal structures under which different forms of politics take place, but that the connection between these layers is assumed, rather than given. By invalidating or contesting different layers of the Stack, changes may be implemented in ways that are unexpectedly effective.

“My interest in the geopolitics of planetary-scale computation focuses less on issues of personal privacy and state surveillance than on how it distorts and deforms traditional Westphalian modes of political geography, jurisdiction, and sovereignty, and produces new territories in its image.

Bratton’s essay combines with Terranova’s work to explore what changes digital currency might have, and connects well with previous readings we have done with the spans of autonomism and platforms studies.

[HTML] B. Bratton “The Black Stack” (2014) e-flux []

Regular meeting time/place:
5pm on Tuesday 17th of June,
Gorman Room, 1888 Building,


Map image taken from:

June 10: the practical materiality of Bitcoin (Maurer, Nelms and Swartz)

by lukevanryn

Photo Credit: JD Hancock

Photo Credit: JD Hancock

This week we continue our discussion of technologies of money with a recent article on Bitcoin. In this paper, the authors discuss BitCoin in terms of its code, its concept of money, and the interests that its advocates bring to bear on it. They argue that debates around BitCoin rehearse questions that are common to the history of money.

The investment of Bitcoin enthusiasts in their own liberty and privacy could be read as concern for personal credibility, although also, perhaps, an inversion of it: instead of establishing one’s reputation by extending oneself via one’s relations with others  issuing promises, circulating credit and credibility, and relying on the honesty and honest books of everyone in a market  one preserves oneself, cutting off all flows of information about oneself. And, moreover, it is the code that does this work of disconnection and silencing.

We meet in the Pierre Gorman Room, 1888 Building at 5pm.

[PDF] Maurer, B., Nelms, T. C., & Swartz, L. (2013). “When perhaps the real problem is money itself!”: the practical materiality of Bitcoin. Social Semiotics, 23(2), 261-277.