Culture on the Blockchain

Transparency, decentralization, and accountability: these are all affordances of the blockchain, the distributed public ledger technology behind cryptocurrencies like BitCoin. While much discussion around the blockchain focuses on its implications on financial systems, technologists and policy makers are starting to consider how it might be applied to other uses. In November 2016, I gave a talk at Museum Computer Network on the implications of blockchain technology for the cultural sector. For artists and media makers, the blockchain offers new ways to commercialize digital art and protect intellectual property. Cultural institutions could use blockchain technology to create a worldwide ledger of metadata about collection objects, tracking data like provenance in a way that is secure and verifiable. This presentation focused on a technology still in its early stages of discovery and development, critically considering the potential and implications of the blockchain for cultural producers and GLAMs (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums).

This photograph is by artist Sarah Meyohas. It depicts a recursive images of a woman's bare legs, her pelvis in the middle obscured by a mirror. Above the mirror we glimpse a little bit of bold pink flowers. The background is yellow.
Speculation by Sarah Meyohas


Audio recording of Culture on the Blockchain
Culture on the Blockchain slide presentation