I’m very excited about Dave Birch’s new book, Before Babylon, Beyond Bitcoin, for two reasons. One is that it’s full of brilliantly thoughtful (and witty) insights into the way the technology of money plays into social interactions. As Andy Haldane writes in his foreword, “The most interesting issues in economics arise from the intersection – sometimes the collision- between technology and society.”
Dave’s argument is that digital technologies will take us back to the future, using multiple monies in different communities or contexts. I don’t think there’s anyone who knows more than him about the technology of money, including the famous blockchain. And probably nobody either with a better eye for the oddities of monetary history; if you want to learn about Aztec exchange rates, why the Bank of England was still using mediaeval tally sticks in 1826, or the link between Diners’ Club cards and The Exorcist, this is the book for you. The book takes us ‘from money that we understand to money that understands us,’ as the subtitle puts it.
The second reason for excitement is that I commissioned and edited the book in our Perspectives series, but in a new departure it’s a full length rather than a short book. It is of course a follow up to Dave’s previous, bestselling Perspective title, Identity is the New Money.