Skip down to main content

Data Money: How a New Money Material is Changing Economies

With Prof Koray Caliskan
14 Feb 2024
With Prof Koray Caliskan

The talk offers the first detailed ethnographic analysis of the remarkable rise of cryptocurrency economies and communities. Since the invention of Kublai Khan’s paper money eight centuries ago, there has been no equivalent innovation in the world of money—until now, with cryptocurrency. Based on award-winning longitudinal research, this talk unveils the concept of Data Money, a historically novel form of currency. Data Money is created as the right to send data privately over a secure accounting infrastructure called blockchain. Drawing on two years of fieldwork among global cryptocurrency communities, the talk provides a comprehensive analysis of these new financial global actors, complete with original visualizations of their relationships. It looks into stories of both success and failure in these emerging economic realms, revealing the production principles of cryptocurrencies and explaining the four distinct blockchain types that underlie all crypto financial services. By shedding light on how crypto exchanges operate from within, the talk also clarifies why and how we have misunderstood, under-regulated, and improperly taxed crypto exchanges and actors. The talk concludes by addressing what comes after Bitcoin and Ethereum, how to prepare for the next Big Bang in cryptocurrencies, and the risks associated with such financial innovations.

Koray Caliskan is an economic sociologist teaching at The New School, Parsons School of Design. He is the author of “Data Money: Inside Cryptocurrencies, Their Communities, Markets, and Blockchains” (Columbia, 2023). Caliskan’s research on cryptocurrencies was selected as a winner of the Breakthrough of the Year 2021 in Social Sciences and Humanities by the Falling Walls Foundation, Berlin. His new book, co-authored with Michel Callon and Donald MacKenzie, is entitled “Economization: Markets, Economies, and Platforms in Perspective” (forthcoming in 2024 from Columbia UP). Currently, he is conducting research on online advertisements.


Koray Caliskan

Prof Koray Caliskan

Associate Professor of Strategic Design and Management, Parsons School of Design

Koray's research on cryptocurrencies and their global communities was a Winner of the Scientific Breakthrough of the Year in Social Sciences and Humanities by the Falling Walls Foundation Berlin, 2021