Building a Financial Hackspace

Over the last 5 years I’ve been working on ways to break down the oppressive wall of mystique that shrouds global finance, and to experiment with methods of ‘hacking’ financial systems. At first this took the form of my own ‘gonzo’ anthropological explorations of the world of derivatives trading. It has since merged into me working with campaign groups like ActionAid, MoveYourMoneyUK and the World Development Movement, and getting involved in the alternative finance community via initiatives like the Finance Innovation Lab.

In 2013, whilst writing The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance, I decided to start developing an experiential workshop series to help London’s diverse array of activists, artists and alternative economists grapple with the financial sector in their midst. I decided to call this London School of Financial Activism (LSFA).


Phase 1: Seed-funding
In 2013 I ran a crowdfunding campaign to provide me with initial seed-funding to develop the idea. I raised £5014 from 168 funders. That was never going to be enough to set up LSFA in its entirety (with a website, logo, venues etc), but it has been vital in giving me some breathing room to develop the idea, as well as helping to build an initial base of supporters

Phase 2: Developing workshop content
In May 2013 my book was released, and generating publicity for the book subsequently took up a large amount of my time. The upshot of this is that I’ve been asked to do a wide range of talks and workshops off the back of it, which has both increased my experience in teaching, and has helped me to generate and test a range of workshop ideas. I’ve thus been able to develop a list of workshops, including

Phase 3: Building the hackerspace

Now that the outline for the initial workshops has been established, there are series of steps that need to be taken to formalise LSFA a bit more. Some that I’m currently working on include:

I want LSFA to go beyond simply being a place where lectures are delivered. I want it to develop into a dynamic open space where members can come and hang out, use communal facilities and work on creative projects that 1) help them understand the financial sector whilst 2) building useful tools that challenge it. We do adventurous exploration of powerful systems, develop creative, mischievous ways to jam such systems, and experiment with ways to rewire them. In essence I’d like to create a financial hackerspace. To read more about that, see here.

If you’d like more information, here are my contact details. Watch this space for updates.

Leave a Reply