I’m going to give this a run: A post every week or so on what I’m reading , have recently read, or have poked through enough to get a decent sense of.
The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers — and the Coming Cashless Society, by David Wolman
This is quite a romp, half digerotica, half travelogue. Wolman, a writer for WIRED and other magazines, looks at the possibility that a digital currency and other alternatives will soon render us cashless. He starts by going cashless himself for a year — not without funds, but without any paper or coin currency, using just credit cards, ATMs, and other forms of digital currency. This goes fairly well, which didn’t surprise me terribly; I performed a less committed form of this experiment when living in London last year; I kept a few pounds in paper currency in my wallet but found I rarely needed to use it. Only now and then would nothing else would do. Wolman’s visit to anti-cash crusader Dave Birch, who lived in London, produces a similar moment when Birch, amid rants about currency, digs a one-pound coin out of his pocket to toss into a busker’s guitar case. That London trip is part of a sort of world tour that Wolman leads us on to examine alt-currency experiments and rebellions ranging from digital currency, bartering, and local swap-based exchanges to tax-dodging and counterfeiting.