Dr Rachel O’Dwyer is a Lecturer in Digital Culture at NCAD. Her recent research focuses on emerging markets at the intersection of digital money and digital networks. She is the leader of the Dublin Art and Technology Association and a member of the Orthogonal Research Methods Group in TCD, which focuses on building creative strategies at the intersection of technology and the arts. As a Fulbright-TechImpact Scholar to University of California, Rachel focused on how blockchain technologies are transforming the creative and cultural industries.
What does your research / work do for citizens?
“Broadly speaking my work explores the social implications of emerging technologies, with a particular focus on blockchain technologies, the underlying database used by cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. It might sound farfetched, but blockchain technologies are currently being used to transform the art market, as a technology to trade art differently, to record its provenance and to sell and share works of art.”
What problem are you trying to solve?
“My Fubright work travelled through an anthropology of money lab in UC Irvine to work with researchers from that department and from computer science on this emerging space. I was interested in what the application of blockchain technologies meant for the future of art markets, but also for the future of art.”
Where did you go on your Fulbright Award & why?
“UC Irvine has an incredibly anthropology department where they explore the social and technical implications of all things money related. It was an obvious choice for me!”
What were the chief learnings from you Fulbright Award? What are you able to do better now?
“It was great to share my ideas and research findings with the UC Irvine team and get feedback on this. Mine was quite a short stay but we also managed to work on two other projects together, developing a discourse analysis of recent white papers that have been produced by blockchain startups and exploring some of the methods that we were collectively using to engage with complex sociotechnical systems such as bitcoin, financial platforms and so on…”
What have been the highlights of your Fulbright experience so far?
“The highlight was being embedded in a different thinking culture, having my ideas and approaches to work challenged. Getting to be embedded in another faculty with different ways of doing things, and being able to bring my family with me. The last bit was a dream come true. During the week I was immersed in work with the department and at the weekends we did a lot of exploring and travelling around California.”