Bitcoin - a new medium

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Thor Larsen
4. term, Interactive Digital Media, Master (Master Programme)
In this master thesis, the author acknowledges Bitcoin as a novel phenomenon with paradigm shifting potential. As such, a need to define and study this phenomenon and enter into a discussion about the nature of this artefact. The author is motivated in this enterprise by personal involvement into the communities surrounding its development and discussion of its possible implications.
The goal of the thesis is to be able to contribute both with knowledge and in the on going discourse relating to Bitcoin. Two products can be extraprolated from this. First a need to produce academic information about the phenomenon at large. Secondly, an informational product is sought to be published, containing the information of the academic product, which might then enter into the discussion about Bitcoin in order to further knowledge to the public about the phenomenon.
This is undertaken in a thematic manner, where the phenomenon of Bitcoin is discussed and analyzed in light of several aspects, which will address the main research question of the thesis: what is the Bitcoin phenomenon? Answering the question a wide modality of research questions are addressed. These are as follows:

• What is Bitcoin?
• How might Bitcoin be viewed in a basic media-historical perspective?
• In light of this perspective, which properties and qualities might be revealed from defining Bitcoin as a novel medium?
• Based upon the definition of Bitcoin as a medium, how might a conceptual framework be structured to understand the phenomenon?
• How might answering these research questions contribute to more public awareness and understanding in regards to the Bitcoin phenomenon?

These questions are addressed in light of relevant theory with each subsequent question informing the next. Key perspectives and theories presented and discussed, in the context of Bitcoin, are Irving Fang and McLuhan, as well as several contemporary media scholars. To create a preliminary understanding of Bitcoin, selected research was chosen as well as the original whitepaper. Answering these questions, Bitcoin is both defined as a virtual, interactive medium and a phenomenon due to its open source, transparent development community. It is also readily available for remediation, a concept derived from McLuhan, which also contributes to what the author sees as the phenomenon. Through the qualities and properties of the medium, an ecosystem is created to describe the phenomenon. The author concludes that Bitcoin is part of a decentralized information megatrend, or in the perspective of Irving Fang, a 7th information revolution.
Publication date18 Oct 2015
Number of pages79
ID: 220603093