info-file for the e-money mailing list

E-money is a critical mailing list discussing new forms of financial exchange. We invite you to share points of view or to simply follow the ongoing discussion.


In 1964 Marshall McLuhan dedicated an entire chapter to money in his book, Understanding Media. The chapter is entitled Money, the poor Man's Credit card and shows the different stages of money throughout human history. He discusses the development of the barter system towards the first currencies being partially caused by changes in channels of trade.

There is now again a fundamental change in trade. A new telematic market is evolving. Business are pushing commercial content and marketing strategies on the net. They learned how to target and customize mailing lists (you may also browse our junk mail archive). The formerly predominant freeware spirit, expressed by great rebellious softwares like Anarchie, Apache, Linux, Mosaic, SQL, is loosing ground. An average of the recently arrived neighbors in the net-community seem to favor commercial solutions. This is the context in which choices for an adapted net currency are made.

The aim of the discussion is to screen the different aspects of the digitalization of money and to anticipate possible senarios. The evolution of money always meant that supplementary levels of abstraction were being added. Digital money seems to have a paradoxical nature. Although remaining a pure representation of value (as with all kinds of former money), it is missing form. It can no longer be touched or smelt.

One basic question of the discussion could be: Shall we render something invisible visible? Does digital money necessarily need a form? Are our traditional concepts of representation shifting towards another category?

The nation state is loosing bit by bit of his former role as guarantor and editor of currencies. This monopoly has been shared since banks distributed checks. In the1950's banks and credit-insurance companies also introduced credit and bank cards on the market. These cards often represent a strong metaphor for coins and notes. Nowadays various hybrid systems of electronic hard and software money have been issued such as smart cards, telephone cards, the e-cash protocol and so on. All of these systems claim to be confidential and secure. But these new systems also offer very large reversed user control. In certain implementations they may issue precise and instantaneous customer profiles and preferences. Credit cards, in this context, have commonly been used to track the user's geo-position.

Electronic money appeals to a new variation of crime. While bank robbers become more computer and network literate clients worry about personnal loses. Who will assume the riscs of electronic fraud, the bank or the individual?

Brief guidelines

This list is open, private and moderated. This means that you need to subscribe to send postings to the list, that you can subscribe or unsubscribe yourself and that your postings should meet the list's topic. It is moderated by Moving Art Studio.

The mailing list is multilingual which means that you are invited to write and send your messages in a language of your choice.

Subscription is free, and as a subscriber you will automatically receive messages in your computer mailbox. You may save these messages, discard them, copy them, or print them. You may also relay them to someone else, as long as you honor the copyright of the author by including his or her name, e-mail address and the address of the list. You may also browse the www-archive of the list.

You can attach files to your postings which will only be made available on the www-archive. The attached files should be in one of the following current formats: RTF (not DOC), PDF 3.0, JPEG, GIF, AIF, MOV, RM, RA. The file's size must not exceed 2000 bytes. For larger files please drop a line to the moderator first.

Do not send commercial postings of any kind to the list. They will be returned to you.

jens-ingo Brodesser and Frédéric Jadoul