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The End of Money

OPB | Feb. 20, 2012 9:06 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 27, 2013 3:02 p.m.

The writer David Wolman has thought a lot about money:

Money is an object—tearable, flammable, even wearable. It’s also an object of obsession, inquiry, aspiration, remorse, delight, disdain, curiosity, and just about every other sentiment imaginable. Money takes different forms, too: credit and debit cards, checks, money orders, lottery tickets, gift cards, Disney Dollars, ones and zeroes on distant servers, and, for the time being at least, rectangular slips of paper and round coins that economists call physical representations of sovereign currency, and that the rest of us call cash.

That “for the time being at least” is the heart of his new book, The End of Money.

Wolman travelled the globe to learn what the world might look like if cash were to disappear. He talked to people who fear the demise of cash because they believe it could lead to a devil-worshipping society. And he talked to evangelists of a different sort — people who welcome what they see as the efficiency, sustainability, and good sense of a cashless world.

Along the way, he got a sense for some of the mobile technologies that might replace greenbacks, and he even embarked on a personal experiment of his own: he tried going without cash for an entire year.

What’s your relationship with cash? Are you already living a largely cash-less life? Can you imagine life without it?

If you want to hear more about the end of money David Wolman will be reading at Powell’s on Burnside on Tuesday, February 21st.

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