hierarchies and decentralization
A concept is a brick. It can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window. ― Gilles Deleuze, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia
If you’ve followed the crypto space over the last decade then you know decentralization is a key component of the ecosystem. I remember being at a conference in 2017 and someone talking about decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and thinking to myself that although I love the idea, network effects and ruthless organization rule the world.
Me being a student of Aristotle and other political theorists I realized that the Dionysian desires of crypto were going to constantly clash with the Appolonian control of legacy systems. More often than not, organized systems accrue power and force that stamp out less organized systems. But this time will be different right?
So, I decided to look for different conceptualizations of decentralized systems. That is when I came across the Rhizome from Deleuze.
When I first read Deleuze I saw the parallels between what he was saying and what crypto was and is trying to do. Truly, actions speaking louder than words - facta non verba. The crypto community’s ambition was and remains aspirational.
If you are unfamiliar with the core tenets of crypto I suggest you study up on Austrian economics, libertarian principles, decentralized systems, human psychology, financial history, cryptography, political theory - just to name a few.
The space is dense and filled with many great minds and ideas, so don’t throw the baby out with the bath water because the grifts have been so prevalent. Grab some coffee and start reading, you might actually learn a few things and make some money along the way.
Gilles Deleuze was a highly influential 20th-century French philosopher who is known for his contributions to a wide range of fields, including metaphysics, aesthetics, and political theory. Deleuze's work is characterized by a deep interest in the nature of difference and creativity, and he is known for developing a number of innovative concepts and theories that have had a significant impact on contemporary thought.
One of Deleuze's most important contributions to philosophy is his concept of the "rhizome," which he developed in collaboration with Felix Guattari. The rhizome is a metaphor for a non-hierarchical, decentralized system of knowledge and power that is characterized by its ability to constantly generate new connections and possibilities. This concept has been highly influential in fields such as cultural studies, where it has been used to explore the ways in which knowledge is produced and disseminated in contemporary society.
Another key aspect of Deleuze's work is his interest in the virtual, which he sees as a realm of possibility and potentiality that lies beyond the constraints of the actual world. Deleuze's philosophy emphasizes the importance of creativity and experimentation, and he is known for his rejection of traditional forms of thought and representation in favor of more open and fluid ways of thinking.
The concept of the rhizome has been applied in cultural studies in a number of ways, but one of the most notable examples is in the work of cultural theorist Brian Massumi. Massumi has used the concept of the rhizome to explore the ways in which knowledge and power are produced and disseminated in contemporary society, particularly in relation to digital media and networked communication technologies.
In his book "Parables for the Virtual," Massumi argues that the rhizome provides a useful framework for understanding the complex and decentralized nature of contemporary culture. He suggests that the rhizome can be seen as a model for the way in which information and knowledge circulate through digital networks, with no central authority or hierarchy dictating what is produced or consumed. With a lack of organization, decentralized information proliferates
By applying the concept of the rhizome to cultural studies, Massumi and other scholars have been able to develop new and innovative ways of thinking about the relationship between power, knowledge, and creativity in contemporary society. The concept of the rhizome has also been used to explore the ways in which cultural production and consumption are becoming increasingly decentralized and participatory, with individuals and communities playing a more active role in the production and circulation of cultural artifacts.
The concept of the rhizome has been applied extensively in the context of digital media and networked communication technologies. In this context, the rhizome is often used as a metaphor for the decentralized, non-hierarchical nature of digital networks and the way in which information and knowledge are produced and circulated through these networks.
One of the ways in which the concept of the rhizome has been applied in the context of digital media is through the development of rhizomatic learning. Rhizomatic learning is an approach to education that emphasizes the importance of collaboration, self-directed learning, and the sharing of knowledge and resources across networks. The approach is based on the idea that knowledge is constantly evolving and that learning is a process of navigating through a complex and dynamic network of connections and possibilities.
Another way in which the concept of the rhizome has been applied in the context of digital media is through the development of rhizomatic art. Rhizomatic art is characterized by its non-linear, non-hierarchical structure, which allows for multiple paths of interpretation and engagement. Rhizomatic art often invites viewers to participate in the creation of the artwork, blurring the boundaries between artist and audience and emphasizing the importance of collaboration and co-creation.
The concept of the rhizome has been used in a variety of ways to explore the complex and decentralized nature of digital media and networked communication technologies. By emphasizing the importance of decentralization, collaboration, and non-linearity, the concept of the rhizome has helped to shape new and innovative approaches to education, art, and cultural production in the digital age.
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