Rachel O'Dwyer

What exactly are tokens, anyway?

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What exactly are tokens, anyway?

Rachel O’Dwyer is a writer and researcher whose work looks at digital economies and culture. Her writing touches on online transactions, art markets, programmable money, and alternative currencies. Rachel’s work probes the social and political landscapes that these technologies bring into being.

She serves as a lecturer in digital cultures at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ireland. Her first book, Tokens: The Future of Money in the Age of the Platform, was published in 2023.

Rachel’s work digs into the complexity of financial exchange. How especially in the digital era, payment and the platforms and tools that we use to do it bring different social relations into being. Her work offers an ethnography of sorts, drawing on real-life research she’s conducted into money burners and Bitcoin fanatics.

She’s a bracing critic of the connection between big tech and big finance yet offers frameworks for a hopeful future.

In this month’s episode, we dive into what tokens are, what makes them different from regular money, and how they matter today.