Due to COVID restrictions, the course starts online.
To register please send an email to Max Grünberg mrgruenberg (at)


The course offers an introduction to cryptocurrencies, distributed ledgers, and the blockchain in particular. Born out of the desire to take currencies out of the hands of governments and financial institutions, today these technologies are going far beyond their initial purpose and challenge the status quo of our increasingly centralized information infrastructure by enabling the secure functioning of decentralized networks. More than offering mere tools of exchange, the underlying protocols promise to open up the door to a decentralized web of financial applications, cloud storage, and content delivery networks. To critically examine this vision of decentralization, we will approach the topic in three steps.

The first part of the course is dedicated to the prehistory of these technologies. We will look into their cryptographical foundation, the function of money and bookkeeping in capitalism, and explore the cultural framework of Cypherpunks and Austrian economics from which the crypto space emerged. In the second part, we will focus on the technical fundamentals of blockchain ledgers, using the example of bitcoin as the first decentralized cryptocurrency. The third part explores where this technology is heading since Ethereum made the blockchain programmable. On one side it is being used in an attempt to make digital data valuable again, creating information markets, as we can currently experience with the phenomena of NFTs. But as we will see, there also lays an emancipatory potential in distributed ledger technologies, that we will try to uncover by examining projects such as Holochain and the Economic Space Agency, which not only aim at a reorganization of economic flows but also attempt to redefine what value is and how it should be accounted.

Although this course is announced in English, the language can still be decided (German or English), depending on the language preference of the participants.

A certificate (Schein) is possible with credit in Media Philosophy. Students can a) make a project or a presentation in class and write a short essay of ca. 10 pages, or b) write an extensive essay of ca. 20 pages. All materials will be shared via Dropbox.

Max Grünberg (Media Philosophy)
Consultation hours: Wednesday, 4 pm – 5 pm
mrgruenberg [∂]

Room: online
Wednesday, 2 pm – 4 pm. Weekly
Course start: 21. April 2021
Language: English or German