Afterlives of the Californian Ideology| Building Blockchain Frontiers: Ethereum as an Extension of the Californian Ideology

Ann Brody, Tamara Kneese, Julie Frizzo-Barker


The Ethereum blockchain has emerged as a new technology with particular affordances that lend themselves to entrepreneurial visions aligned with the Californian Ideology. Conceptualizing Ethereum as “the world computer” offers a compelling vision for those inspired by the Californian Ideology. This article examines two case studies—talks presented at DevCon4, the Ethereum community’s largest annual conference—to investigate some of the physical prototypes fueled by a supposedly ethereal technology. We focus on two distinct framings of Ethereum: As part of Silicon Valley elite Stewart Brand’s long-term futurist vision and crypto millionaire Jeff Berns’s utopian community in the Nevada desert. Through an ethnographic analysis of their frontier-themed visions, we argue that Ethereum proponents strategically use elements of the Californian Ideology to situate themselves in a successful history that also blends commercial success with countercultural elements.


imaginaries, blockchain, Californian Ideology, decentralization, Ethereum, prototype

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