Power struggles on the blockchain: On decentralization and recentralization in digital energy systems

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftPaper uden forlag/tidsskriftForskningpeer review

Resumé

The emergence of blockchain technology in the energy sector came with associated visions of progress and re-invigoration of decentralization visions of the internet (Mathew 2016, Tréguer 2017, Rosenzweig 1998, Galloway 2001). Through the disintermediation enabled by the “trust machine” of blockchain technology (The Economist, 2015), distributed ledger technologies were envisaged to bring about a “democratization” of the sharing economy in general and of the energy transition specifically (Tapscott & Tapscott 2016; Sutherland & Jarrahi 2018; von Perfall et al. 2016; Andoni et. al. 2018).
My analysis builds on ethnographic insider field work in the emerging blockchain-in-energy community of practice (Lave, 1991), centered around Berlin, in the years 2016-2018. Inspired by STS scholarship of infrastructure (Epstein et al. 2016, Karasti & Blomberg 2018, Star 2010) and recent reinterpretations and applications of the Foucauldian notion of biopower to energy and information systems (Koopman 2019, Boyer 2019, Hasberg 2019), this article looks into how “blockchain in energy” came about as a radical subcultural notion of shifting power balances in the industry.

The power struggles inside the communities of practice of blockchain in energy reveal how different stakeholders perceive and shape, colonize and co-create the use of blockchain technology. Dissimilar visions are promoted by different stakeholders, of which some support and some rather obstruct the energy transition, and at times, the technology is used as a veil rather than a change agent. Blockchain in energy emerges as a testing ground for challenge and resistance to the status quo; at the same time, it is a product of the pre-existing power and governance structures that prevail. This results in oscillating cycles of decentralization and re-centralization. Communities of practice around blockchain technology in the energy sector end up replicating what they originally set out to challenge (Filippi & Loveluck, 2016).
Looking out, I relate the blockchain power struggles to debates on to the greater internet power discourse (Ulbricht & Grafenstein 2016) on platform regulation (Bostoen 2018), surveillance capitalism (Zuboff) and the current ‪#BreakUpBigTech‬ debate.‬‬‬
OriginalsprogEngelsk
Publikationsdato13 jan. 2020
StatusAfsendt - 13 jan. 2020
BegivenhedTransformative Technologies - Kerschensteiner Kolleg des Deutschen Museums, München, Tyskland
Varighed: 30 jan. 20202 feb. 2020
https://www.hsozkult.de/event/id/termine-40444

Workshop

WorkshopTransformative Technologies
LokationKerschensteiner Kolleg des Deutschen Museums
LandTyskland
ByMünchen
Periode30/01/202002/02/2020
Internetadresse

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Internet
Stars
Information systems
Testing
Industry

Citer dette

Hasberg, K. S. (2020). Power struggles on the blockchain: On decentralization and recentralization in digital energy systems. Afhandling præsenteret på Transformative Technologies, München, Tyskland.
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abstract = "The emergence of blockchain technology in the energy sector came with associated visions of progress and re-invigoration of decentralization visions of the internet (Mathew 2016, Tr{\'e}guer 2017, Rosenzweig 1998, Galloway 2001). Through the disintermediation enabled by the “trust machine” of blockchain technology (The Economist, 2015), distributed ledger technologies were envisaged to bring about a “democratization” of the sharing economy in general and of the energy transition specifically (Tapscott & Tapscott 2016; Sutherland & Jarrahi 2018; von Perfall et al. 2016; Andoni et. al. 2018). My analysis builds on ethnographic insider field work in the emerging blockchain-in-energy community of practice (Lave, 1991), centered around Berlin, in the years 2016-2018. Inspired by STS scholarship of infrastructure (Epstein et al. 2016, Karasti & Blomberg 2018, Star 2010) and recent reinterpretations and applications of the Foucauldian notion of biopower to energy and information systems (Koopman 2019, Boyer 2019, Hasberg 2019), this article looks into how “blockchain in energy” came about as a radical subcultural notion of shifting power balances in the industry. The power struggles inside the communities of practice of blockchain in energy reveal how different stakeholders perceive and shape, colonize and co-create the use of blockchain technology. Dissimilar visions are promoted by different stakeholders, of which some support and some rather obstruct the energy transition, and at times, the technology is used as a veil rather than a change agent. Blockchain in energy emerges as a testing ground for challenge and resistance to the status quo; at the same time, it is a product of the pre-existing power and governance structures that prevail. This results in oscillating cycles of decentralization and re-centralization. Communities of practice around blockchain technology in the energy sector end up replicating what they originally set out to challenge (Filippi & Loveluck, 2016).Looking out, I relate the blockchain power struggles to debates on to the greater internet power discourse (Ulbricht & Grafenstein 2016) on platform regulation (Bostoen 2018), surveillance capitalism (Zuboff) and the current ‪#BreakUpBigTech‬ debate.‬‬‬",
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Hasberg, KS 2020, 'Power struggles on the blockchain: On decentralization and recentralization in digital energy systems', Paper fremlagt ved Transformative Technologies, München, Tyskland, 30/01/2020 - 02/02/2020.

Power struggles on the blockchain : On decentralization and recentralization in digital energy systems. / Hasberg, Kirsten Sophie .

2020. Afhandling præsenteret på Transformative Technologies, München, Tyskland.

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftPaper uden forlag/tidsskriftForskningpeer review

TY - CONF

T1 - Power struggles on the blockchain

T2 - On decentralization and recentralization in digital energy systems

AU - Hasberg, Kirsten Sophie

N1 - Submission for "Transformative Technologies" Conference, Munich, January 2020

PY - 2020/1/13

Y1 - 2020/1/13

N2 - The emergence of blockchain technology in the energy sector came with associated visions of progress and re-invigoration of decentralization visions of the internet (Mathew 2016, Tréguer 2017, Rosenzweig 1998, Galloway 2001). Through the disintermediation enabled by the “trust machine” of blockchain technology (The Economist, 2015), distributed ledger technologies were envisaged to bring about a “democratization” of the sharing economy in general and of the energy transition specifically (Tapscott & Tapscott 2016; Sutherland & Jarrahi 2018; von Perfall et al. 2016; Andoni et. al. 2018). My analysis builds on ethnographic insider field work in the emerging blockchain-in-energy community of practice (Lave, 1991), centered around Berlin, in the years 2016-2018. Inspired by STS scholarship of infrastructure (Epstein et al. 2016, Karasti & Blomberg 2018, Star 2010) and recent reinterpretations and applications of the Foucauldian notion of biopower to energy and information systems (Koopman 2019, Boyer 2019, Hasberg 2019), this article looks into how “blockchain in energy” came about as a radical subcultural notion of shifting power balances in the industry. The power struggles inside the communities of practice of blockchain in energy reveal how different stakeholders perceive and shape, colonize and co-create the use of blockchain technology. Dissimilar visions are promoted by different stakeholders, of which some support and some rather obstruct the energy transition, and at times, the technology is used as a veil rather than a change agent. Blockchain in energy emerges as a testing ground for challenge and resistance to the status quo; at the same time, it is a product of the pre-existing power and governance structures that prevail. This results in oscillating cycles of decentralization and re-centralization. Communities of practice around blockchain technology in the energy sector end up replicating what they originally set out to challenge (Filippi & Loveluck, 2016).Looking out, I relate the blockchain power struggles to debates on to the greater internet power discourse (Ulbricht & Grafenstein 2016) on platform regulation (Bostoen 2018), surveillance capitalism (Zuboff) and the current ‪#BreakUpBigTech‬ debate.‬‬‬

AB - The emergence of blockchain technology in the energy sector came with associated visions of progress and re-invigoration of decentralization visions of the internet (Mathew 2016, Tréguer 2017, Rosenzweig 1998, Galloway 2001). Through the disintermediation enabled by the “trust machine” of blockchain technology (The Economist, 2015), distributed ledger technologies were envisaged to bring about a “democratization” of the sharing economy in general and of the energy transition specifically (Tapscott & Tapscott 2016; Sutherland & Jarrahi 2018; von Perfall et al. 2016; Andoni et. al. 2018). My analysis builds on ethnographic insider field work in the emerging blockchain-in-energy community of practice (Lave, 1991), centered around Berlin, in the years 2016-2018. Inspired by STS scholarship of infrastructure (Epstein et al. 2016, Karasti & Blomberg 2018, Star 2010) and recent reinterpretations and applications of the Foucauldian notion of biopower to energy and information systems (Koopman 2019, Boyer 2019, Hasberg 2019), this article looks into how “blockchain in energy” came about as a radical subcultural notion of shifting power balances in the industry. The power struggles inside the communities of practice of blockchain in energy reveal how different stakeholders perceive and shape, colonize and co-create the use of blockchain technology. Dissimilar visions are promoted by different stakeholders, of which some support and some rather obstruct the energy transition, and at times, the technology is used as a veil rather than a change agent. Blockchain in energy emerges as a testing ground for challenge and resistance to the status quo; at the same time, it is a product of the pre-existing power and governance structures that prevail. This results in oscillating cycles of decentralization and re-centralization. Communities of practice around blockchain technology in the energy sector end up replicating what they originally set out to challenge (Filippi & Loveluck, 2016).Looking out, I relate the blockchain power struggles to debates on to the greater internet power discourse (Ulbricht & Grafenstein 2016) on platform regulation (Bostoen 2018), surveillance capitalism (Zuboff) and the current ‪#BreakUpBigTech‬ debate.‬‬‬

KW - blockchain

KW - decentralization

KW - recentralization

KW - democratization

KW - energy transition

KW - power struggles

KW - infopower

KW - energopower

M3 - Paper without publisher/journal

ER -

Hasberg KS. Power struggles on the blockchain: On decentralization and recentralization in digital energy systems. 2020. Afhandling præsenteret på Transformative Technologies, München, Tyskland.