"Digital money has captured the broad imagination of speculators, coders, regulators, criminals and the mass media. This course puts this change in context: how do we understand money as a social, political and technological phenomenon?" (catalog)
Professor of Anthropology and Dean, School of Social Sciences
Associate Professor of Informatics
Payments Systems in the U.S. - Second Edition
by Carol Coye Benson, Scott J Loftesness
This is an overview of the US payments industry, that is, the industry devoted to facilitating value transfer -- how we pay for things. We are going to focus on electronic value transfer, since Bitcoin is a form of electronic value transfer. This book was written for professionals in the industry, but it is the best overview of the entire payments "ecosystem," that is, all the businesses operating together to make payments possible.
Bitcoin Internals: A Technical Guide to Bitcoin
by Chris Clark
In 2008, a person calling himself or herself or themselves Satoshi Nakamoto released a paper suggesting a system for an anonymous, peer-to-peer alternative money. Bitcoin was born. Although not the first digital currency ever proposed, nor the first challenger to fiat money, bitcoin is the first to have captured the broad imagination of speculators, coders, regulators, criminals and the mass media. This course puts Bitcoin in context: how do we understand money as a social, political and technological phenomenon? From discussions of ancient transactions to the rise of state-issued currencies, we will explore the social and technical aspects of bitcoin, its predecessors and potential successors, and how its features echo aspects of many different historical transaction systems. No prior knowledge of economics or computing is required.
There is little academic writing on bitcoin. And this may be the first truly academic class on the topic. We want to put bitcoin in a wider perspective, to reflect on what it means for society, politics and economics, as well as how it helps us think about money both a social and a technical phenomenon. This class is not an advanced seminar on bitcoin--we will not be delving deeply into the inner workings of the system, but instead providing a bird’s-eye overview with enough technical detail for you to be able to put media stories, hype and hope around bitcoin in perspective. Similarly, this is not a class in monetary economics--we won’t go too deeply into monetary theory or policy, the money supply, or inflation. Instead the class invites you to think more deeply about one of the oldest systems of technology on the planet, and most ubiquitous: money, whether coin, cash, credit card or cryptocurrency, we humans have been making money for most of the past 10,000 years. How we do so in the future is a question bitcoin just maybe helps us answer.
The course requires your active and engaged participation. This is an online class. Material in the form of readings, lectures, additional videos and powerpoints are posted for each week. Each week will have an email “Roadmap” outlining our recommended sequence for tackling the required material, as well as our expectations for what you should get out of it. You will participate in online discussion forums and explorations, take two short quizzes, write two essays and take an essay based final exam.
Our course weeks go from Monday to Sunday. You should plan to review each week’s Roadmap over the weekend, and plan out your week so that you will be able to get through the required material and respond to forum prompts.
Each week you will participate in online forums related to the week’s theme. You are required to make at minimum two posts. Forum participation deadlines are as follows: your first reply to the prompt is due by Wednesday of each week by 11:59 pm. Your second response to a peer is due Sunday evening by 11:59 pm. Two posts per forum are the absolute minimum. Please aim for greater participation as this leads to a deeper learning community and enriches the experience for everyone.
You will earn points as following, for a maximum of 100:
|3 participation activities||1 points each|
|5 weekly forums||5 points each|
|3 labs||5 points each|
|2 quizzes||5 points each|
|2 short essays||10 points each|
|1 final exam||27 points|
This class may have a few synchronous webinars or chat sessions, considered optional. In most cases, they will be taped for future playback.
If you need support or assistance because of a disability, you may be eligible for accommodations or services through the Disability Service Center at UC Irvine. Please contact the DSC directly at (949) 824-7494 or TDD (949) 824-6272. You can also visit the DSC’s website: http://www.disability.uci.edu/ . The DSC will work with the instructors to make any necessary accommodations. Please note that it is your responsibility to initiate this process with the DSC.
All participants in the course are bound by the University of California Standards of Ethical Conduct, found at http://www.ucop.edu/ethics-compliance-audit-services/_files/stmt-stds-ethics.pdf
In an online course, the majority of our communication takes place in the course forums. Please leave all private, personal, interpersonal, or confidential communications out of the forums: instead, use email or telephone. Since our primary means of communication is written, we need to be careful to adopt a professional tone when using the forums. As we all know, online communication sometimes tempts people to express their views in extreme ways. In addition, communicating via writing alone leave out all the nonverbal cues and face-to-face signaling that can help other people grasp our true meaning: whether we are joking, being ironic, intentionally being mean or cold, or simply being careless.. As a result, please be aware of the possibility of miscommunication and compose your comments in a positive, supportive, and constructive manner.
To do the degree that you get to express yourself visually online, please present yourself professionally. This will help us to maintain an atmosphere of respect and collegiality even when we may have differing analysis and opinions.
The University is an institution of learning, research, and scholarship predicated on the existence of an environment of honesty and integrity. As members of the academic community, faculty, students, and administrative officials share responsibility for maintaining this environment. It is essential that all members of the academic community subscribe to the ideal of academic honesty and integrity and accept individual responsibility for their work. Academic dishonesty is unacceptable and will not be tolerated at the University of California, Irvine. Cheating, forgery, dishonest conduct, plagiarism, and collusion in dishonest activities erode the University's educational, research, and social roles.
If students who knowingly or intentionally conduct or help another student perform dishonest conduct, acts of cheating, or plagiarism will be subject to disciplinary action.