With the help of Derek Robertson
New experiment in progress in the bucolic mountains of Berkshire in Western Massachusetts – one of them matters for where and how cryptocurrency can infiltrate everyday life.
At the Berkshire Food Co-op in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, you can see which local farm has grown your produce, grab an “eco mug made from recycled wheat stalks” and, starting from that harvest, pay for it all in cryptocurrency.
The currency is not bitcoin with its high carbon emissions or the many private cryptocurrencies backed by venture capitalists. Instead, the cooperative is working with a farm-to-table pioneer to use technology often associated with rampant global capitalism for a different purpose: radical localism.
The launch of Digital Berkshares cryptocurrency this spring marks the latest step in a decades-long effort to develop a self-sustaining economy in the Berkshires, a popular haven for the wealthy and educated in the Northeast.
If globalization continued its steady march, then this autonomy remained elusive. But now, as the rise of blockchain technology is causing a broad rethinking of money and the widespread push for deglobalization is gaining momentum, proponents of these efforts have found a new opportunity.
To exploit this, they enlisted the help of Berkshire-only pioneers such as a ukulele factory, a traveling jester, and a famous local witch.
But proponents of the currency insist it’s more than a fancy pet project. They argue that the same technology that has launched thousands of get-rich-quick schemes could also help rural America get rich slowly.
“We’re not working on a three-year or five-year project,” said Berkshares curator Susan Witt, who, as co-founder of the Schumacher Center for New Economics, has been trying to break the dollar’s monopoly on American money since the 1980s. “It’s more like a 50 year project.”
Witt was directly involved in two previous schemes to launch an alternative to the Berkshire dollar, one of which is still in circulation and considered successful in the little-known world of local currencies. When she began attending crypto gatherings, beginning with the Bitcoin conference in Miami in January 2016, Witt, now 75, recalled being the oldest in a pink-clad room amidst a sea of hundreds of young people dressed in black. “I liked it,” she said. “I’ve learned so much.”
Because of Berkshares’ status as a pioneer of alternative money, it enjoyed little notoriety among crypto enthusiasts, and Witt said she felt an affinity for some of the anarchist impulses that promoted local control that fueled Bitcoin’s development.
But she also looks askance at the financial speculation and globalization trends that surround the technology, and said she turned down several offers to convert Berkshares to cryptocurrency. But in the end, she decided her ambition was to go digital with Berkshares: a digital system would enable more and larger transactions while generating detailed data on how the currency was being used.
Result: Digital Berkshares was launched in April with the launch of a smartphone wallet app and is now one of the most interesting experiments in the mass adoption of cryptocurrency as a real alternative monetary system.
For full details and an update on how things are going, read Ben’s dispatch from Great Barrington. in POLITICO magazine.
Who is Sam Bankman Fried and what does he do with democratic politics?
POLITICO’s Elena Schneider answers this question in today’s profile of the multi-billionaire head of FTX cryptocurrency exchange as he continues to dedicate large portions of his fortune to Democratic campaigns across the country:
“… last year he hired a whole network of politicians and spent tens of millions more to organize primaries in the Democratic House,” writes Elena. “It was a shocking wave of spending that looked like it could remake the Democratic Party bench in Washington, candidate by candidate. Ahead of the 2024 election, he said he could spend between $100 million and $1 billion.”
You may have noticed that there is one number missing from this ledger: 2022. Elena reveals that Bankman-Freed doesn’t want to make that much of a splash in the medium term, telling her that he only plans to spend about half of the $40 million he’s spent this year. primaries in the general election. (“Only.”)
Bankman-Fried is also wary of being too closely associated with the crypto world that helped him make his fortune, and especially of being seen as such: “Despite the fact that he didn’t say anything about crypto and spoke only about preventing a pandemic, it’s blunt to say: “ just to be clear, there is no crypto angle here,” there is no hidden crypto agenda here,” he told Elena. “If there was a mistake, and there was, then I didn’t realize so early that I needed to blatantly repeat this fact.” — Derek Robertson
Potential Twitter competitors such as A Peach or Mastodon usually followed a predictable cycle, with a fair amount of hype followed by a small amount of lasting footprint.
One newly launched social network hopes to avoid that fate by presenting a truly sui generisunpredictable mix element: co-host, Social media platform without ads and algorithms which allows users to include CSS in their posts.
For those who are not coding savvy, CSS (short for Cascading Style Sheets) is a language that lends visual qualities to HTML input. It sounds dry, but in practice, it allows more creative co-host users to create fast-loading, complex, interactive visuals right in the browser. fridge magnet poetry disc, Windows 2000 Professionaland even classic game boy game.
Site not created specifically as a platform for such gizmos – its stated goal is “to give you ways to express yourself and stay connected with your friends” – but their prevalence is a good reminder of how people are using new technological tools like 3D art, blockchain, or even in an old boring internet browser in this case in an unpredictable way. — Derek Robertson
Stay in touch with the entire team: Ben Schrekinger ([email protected]); Derek Robertson[email protected]); Konstantin Kakaes (ur.[email protected]); and Heidi Vogt ([email protected]). Follow us on Twitter @DigitalFuture.
Ben Schrekinger writes for POLITICO on technology, finance and politics; he is a cryptocurrency investor.