Author Archives: David Golumbia

Race, Technology, and the Word “Traditional” in the World-System

Wallerstein, Historical Capitalism (Verso, 1982)

“Traditional” is one of the more interesting words to keep track of in contemporary discourse, particularly when it comes up in discussions of technology. For the most part, it is used as a slur. It is a word used to disparage an object or practice, to compare it to whatever one wants to posit as […]

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The Politics of Bitcoin: Expanded Bibliography with Live Links

Politics of Bitcoin

Production constraints and editorial guidelines required The Politics of Bitcoin, in both its print and electronic versions, to include only the base URLs of online materials referenced in the book, and even in the electronic version these aren’t live links. In addition, space constraints meant that some work valuable to me in composing the book […]

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Trump, Clinton, and the Electoral Politics of Bitcoin

blockchain transformation CGI

My new book, The Politics of Bitcoin, is not directly about electoral politics, but rather the political and political-economic theories that inform the development of Bitcoin and its underlying blockchain software. My argument does not require that there be direct connections between promoting Bitcoin and supporting one candidate or party or another. Rather, what concerns […]

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“Neoliberalism” Has Two Meanings


The word “neoliberalism” comes up frequently in discussions on and of digital media and politics. Use of the term is frequently derided by actors across the political spectrum, especially but not only by those at whom the term has been directed. (Nobody wants to be called a neoliberal and everyone always denies it, much as […]

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Code Is Not Speech

code is speech

Brief version Advocates understand the idea that “code is speech” to create an impenetrable legal shield around anything built of programming code. When they do this they misunderstand, or misrepresent, free speech law (and rights law in general), which rarely creates such impenetrable shields, the principles that underlie that law, and the ways those principles […]

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Are “Backdoors” Real or Virtual? The Logical Flaw in #AppleVsFBI

Apple Vs FBI protest

I’ve been working for quite a while on a longer piece about the argument that “backdoors make us less secure,” an article of faith among cryptographers, hackers and computer scientists that is adhered to with such condescension, vehemence (and at times, venom) that I can’t help but want to subject it to the closest scrutiny […]

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The Volkswagen Scandal: The DMCA Is Not the Problem and Open Source Is Not the Solution

VW Super Beetle (1972)

tl;dr The solution to the VW scandal is to empower regulators and make sure they have access to any and all parts of the systems they oversee. The solution is not to open up those systems to everyone. There is no “right to repair,” at least for individuals. Whether or not it deserves to be […]

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Encryption and Responsibility: A Note on Symphony

Typically, those of us concerned about the widespread use of encryption and anonymization technologies like Tor are depicted by crypto advocates as “anti-encryption” or “freedom haters” or “mind-murdering censors” or worse. Despite the level of detail these people can bring to technological matters, they often portray the political options as very stark: either “encryption” or […]

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Right Reaction and the Digital Humanities


A while back, I had an encounter that struck me at the time, and continues to strike me, as perfectly emblematic of the Digital Humanities as an ideological formation. While it includes a kind of brutal incivility that I associate with much of the politics that persists very near the “nice” surface of DH (of […]

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Crowdforcing: When What I “Share” Is Yours

a crowd

Among the many default, background, often unexamined assumptions of the digital revolution is that sharing is good. A major part of the digital revolution in rhetoric is to repurpose existing language in ways that advantage the promoters of one scheme or another. It is no surprise that while it may well have been the case […]

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