As I made mention of on Sunday, most of my time has been going toward another project this month. And here it is, finally published: Ledger, Volume 1!
One of the things that’s been missing from the Bitcoin/blockchain/cryptocurrency ecosystem is a robust, peer-reviewed body of work. Individual articles on related topics have been published before, but in a more diasporic manner. So, roughly a year ago, Chris Wilmer, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh (and elementary-school friend of mine) and Peter Rizun, one of the movers behind the controversial scaling-focused Bitcoin distro Bitcoin Unlimited (all scaling solutions are de facto controversial at this point, for better or worse), started putting together a team of people to attempt to fix this. The point was to publish articles that met a standard of academic rigor which would allow people to argue publicly about their ideas in the way academics have for ages: based on a standard of evidence not seen in things like, you know, blogs.*
I’ve been lucky enough to serve as the Deputy Managing Editor for the journal for a couple of months, and as an Editor for months before that, and I’ve learned a number of things.
First, starting a journal is hard. Not only do you have dozens of workflows to create from scratch, but every time you encounter a problem, you have to update your workflows so you don’t have it happen again. And sometimes you don’t, and it does happen again, and everyone’s mad at themselves. And then of course there’s all the e-mail.
Second, starting an interdisciplinary journal is even harder. Coming up with a system of peer review that can address a philosophy paper as well as a cryptography one — and represent them both equally — is an added challenge. This is why we have a Word template that took a couple of days to make and a LaTeX template that took the better part of a year. On the plus side, I now know at least how to edit a paper in LaTeX. I also know that trying to do so on a Chromebook running Crouton is a tiny bit much to ask.
Third, peer-reviewed journals take a long time. It’s not that the reviewers take forever (though occasionally they do), it’s that the “simple” process of finding reviewers, getting them agree to do work for free, following up with them, getting the authors to address reviewer concerns, sending it out for a second round of review to make sure the concerns have been properly addressed, and repeating until the peer-review process is complete, is only half the work. After that comes copyediting, review, pagination, galleys, issue formatting, publisher review, cover design — let’s just say it’s not a little bit of work.
But for all that, I’m exceptionally proud to be a part of this journal. I think we’re really contributing something that hasn’t been around before, and something that should make a real difference going forward in the way we collectively understand the future of money.
And if you’re not aware, the history of money is the history of humanity’s success. So watch out for the future of it.
At ten articles, 151 pages, plus about the same in published peer-review documentation, the first issue is basically a book. We’ve got philosophy, economics, cryptography — you name it. So over the break, if you have one and have an interest, take a minute a peruse through the first issue of the first journal ever to focus on blockchain and cryptocurrency studies.
Now I’m going to take a few minutes to breathe before working on Volume 2.
*What’s that you say? This is a blog? That’s pretty much my point, yes. Do you see any citations around here?
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Richard Ford Burley is a human, writer, and doctoral candidate at Boston College, as well as Deputy Managing Editor at Ledger, the first academic journal devoted to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In his spare time he writes about science, skepticism, feminism, and futurism here at This Week In Tomorrow.