What the GameStop Saga Says About US Capitalism

There’s a reason the GameStop/WallStreetBets drama of the past two weeks got so much attention. It’s because it speaks forcefully to the inequities and systemic problems in both our financial markets and the internet economy and how they’ve shaped our politics and social tensions.

So, in true Money Reimagined form, we wanted to have a super high-level discussion about what the GameStop means for the future of money and society. And for that we called on someone who is a master at drawing big-picture narratives around such issues: Demetri Kofinas, the host of the popular Hidden Forces podcast.

See also: Money Is a Meme, w/ Lana Swartz and Nicky Enright

Demetri Kofinas is an insatiably curious media entrepreneur and financial expert. His mission is to make the connections that help you see the bigger picture, empowering you to make smarter investing decisions.

He also hosts the Hidden Forces podcast, where he gives his listeners an edge by using his critical thinking approach to challenge the consensus narratives structuring our world .

You can follow him on Twitter at @kofinas, check out his podcast at hiddenforces.io, and sign-up for more in depth content and analysis at Patreon.com/hiddenforces.

Find Michael Casey on Twitter or Clubhouse (@mikejcasey)

Find Sheila Warren on Twitter or Clubhouse (@sheilaw)

Image Credit:Luke Stackpoole/Unsplash modified by CoinDesk


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Strange Bedfellows: The World Economic Forum and Crypto

For this episode, we travel, metaphorically, to a town in the Swiss Alps that’s for the first time in 50 years experiencing some peace and quiet in January. We’ll take a look at the challenging task of integrating the radical crypto world into the establishment with Adrian Monck of the World Economic Forum.

This week was the World Economic Forum’s “Davos Agenda,” a conference filled with the usual roster of high-powered speakers but conducted entirely virtually, over Zoom, instead of in Davos. So, as Sheila took time out from helping run that agenda, we invited her colleague Adrian Monck, a long-time WEF managing director, to reflect on the forum’s past and future and how something as anti-establishment as cryptocurrency and blockchain is being integrated into its work.

It might come as a shock to the rebellious strain that’s prominent in the crypto community, but its world and that of the WEF have some important similarities. Both must grapple with the core problem of governance in a decentralized environment, with the difficulty of solving problems that serve the interests of the whole when there’s no single party in charge. Both of them grapple with the problem of consensus.

As Adrian explains, the WEF tries to resolve this by using its unparalleled convening power. It brings together disparate decision-makers from governments, businesses and civil society so they can find common ground on how to address the world’s many urgent needs.

See also: Bitcoin Policy in Biden’s Washington, With Kristin Smith and Amy Davine Kim

At times, that convening exercise has involved inviting radical newcomers, such as the internet tech community, into the tent. In this wide-ranging discussion, which partly delves into Sheila’s groundbreaking work introducing blockchain ideas to the WEF, we dive into the current challenge for this evolving process: how to bring the crypto disruptors inside.

Image credit: Jack Ward/Unsplash modified by CoinDesk


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Bitcoin Policy in Biden’s Washington, With Kristin Smith and Amy Davine Kim

As the Biden Administration gets underway, what can we expect for cryptocurrency technologies alongside an ascendent bitcoin?

One day into the new president’s tenure we’ve brought in Kristin Smith, executive director of the Blockchain Association and Amy Davine Kim, Chief Policy Officer at the Digital Chamber of Commerce. In this episode we’ll take a look into the regulatory future as we explore the relationships, lobbying and policymaking efforts within Washington.


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Privacy, Social Media and the Reinvention of Company Towns

Join Michael Casey and Sheila Warren as they speak with tech ethnographer Tricia Wang and metaMe CEO Dele Atanda, as they dig into social media privacy and the value of personal data.

For the first time since the “Internet 2.0” era began at the turn of the millennium, the dominant social media, search and e-commerce platforms are facing existential challenges. The disruption could come from legal efforts as anti-monopoly lawsuits evolve in both the U.S. and Europe. Or it could come via some nascent alternatives to the platforms’ centralized model, including from blockchain-inspired startups.

Wang, who joined us on this week’s episode of the “Money Reimagined” podcast, says these responses won’t lead to a meaningful alternative until we gain a better appreciation of the role data plays in our internet interactions. Data, she says, “is not just information. Data is relationships.”

The algorithms of Google, Facebook, Amazon and others place the greatest value not in static, simple information points like your name, address and income, but data that reveals your relationships with other people. That matters, Wang says, because the story of those connections is equally important to humans because it is our connections to others that describe who we are.

Social media privacy and the value of data

The imbalance is not just that ad dollars flow to Facebook and Google rather than to the users who generate the content and build the audiences the platforms and their advertisers monetize. It’s that, as detailed in Shoshana Zuboff’s “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism”, we are trapped in an ever-tightening feedback loop in which these companies use our data to modify our behavior. There’s a scary Matrix-like aspect to all this.

See also: A Battle for Bitcoin’s Soul, With Jill Carlson and Raoul Pal 

It’s why the other guest on this week’s podcast, metaMe CEO Dele Atanda, views his company’s work building a more decentralized, blockchain-powered data marketplace as an exercise in protecting people’s human rights, nicely addressing the problem of social media privacy. Creating that marketplace and figuring out a meaningful expression of the value of people’s data is how we will ultimately restore agency over our digital lives, he says.

“We need to create a unit of account that we can measure – not just on the basis of size [as bytes] but on the basis of sensitivity, identifiability. These issues are central to how this information can be used to help or harm us,” he said.

Also important, Atanda says, is the governance structure of the database storing the information, which speaks to the role to be played by blockchain. The more “permissionless” and decentralized the architecture behind the data marketplace, the more confident individuals can be that the rights to their data are protected.

All of this seems pertinent in a week in which society was once again found vulnerable to data failures at centralized systems.


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