The New Design Cables NDCAB0009: Transmitted 24 March 2021

2021 has begun with a frenzy of speculation over new, globe-spanning platforms that promise economic liberation for creatives. Much like the previous generation of tech — itself capitalising on the 2008 Global Financial Crisis — it's hard not to see this new wave of blockchain and health tech as a shock doctrine for a new decade. As we begin a slow, uncertain road to recovery, we instead should look beyond speculation and the hype of tech unicorns. Within Capitalism itself are unexplored hyper-local economic systems that, with research and support, offer opportunities to rebuild and sustain communities. Crucially, many of these models already exist. Although poorly understood, their resilience over the last 12 months are testimony to their allure. Perhaps they offer tangible alternatives to an unequal recovery implemented at an international scale.


We're pleased to share a new report by our friends at Components. It's the second publication of a two-part series, an analysis of the sales data of Bandcamp. Covering the last three months of 2020, Andrew and the Components team studied 6.7 million transactions collected from Bandcamp's public sales firehose. The result is an evidence-backed study of optimism - a platform built on unfashionable tech that, through a considered execution of music commerce, increases the value of music for both artist and audience, far beyond the loss-making exploitative model of Spotify.

Read the Report

4:05pm PDT/7:05 pm EDT/11:05 pm GMT/UTC

Today at Orchid's PRIV8 panel session, Privacy and the Pandemic: Solutions Against Surveillance, Cade will present provocations of finding privacy and resilience in unexpected places and what platform/protocol makers can learn from localised systems of community online, alongside presentations and discussion by Micha Benoliel and Jen Zhu. The event is moderated by Ryan Selkis.

Register for the Stream


Our Open Collective has passed an annual budget of $2,200 USD, thanks to the support of 34 friends. This month, we received our largest contribution yet — a $379 once-off from one of our supporters. Thanks to your belief in us, we are able to pull on speculative threads and turn them into actionable perspectives and frameworks for understanding and harnessing infrastructure power.

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We are a research group developing a nuanced understanding of technology's role as a social, political and environmental accelerant. Established 01 Jan 2020, we are a fiscally sponsored project of Simply Secure, a US 501(c)3 nonprofit. 

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