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Function, Form, Materiality and the Enigma of Digitality: Is Bitcoin Remaking Money as We Know It?

Author:

Atta Addo

Department of Management, London School of Economics and Political Science, GB
About Atta
PhD Candidate in Information Systems and Innovation
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Abstract

This article suggests that computation and digitality can reconfigure the entanglement between function, form and materiality and in the process change the signification of traditional material forms. To illustrate these claims, bitcoin, a digitally constituted currency dubbed by proponents as ‘a new kind of money’, is analyzed in its reconfiguration of traditional material forms of money. The case of bitcoin instantiates reconfiguration through a series of digitally mediated steps: (1) Abstraction of finite and material money supply into an infinite process of cryptographically secured record keeping, constrained only by computational capacity (the blockchain) (2) Decentralization and decontextualization of actions and processes of bitcoin creation and dissemination (mining which decenters intermediaries and regulators in supply), and (3) Deconstruction of formal and material sources of signification, legitimation, meaning and control of money (such as material substrates used to signify value and the formal authorities that legitimate such). These insights call for critical reflection of paradigmatic assumptions of sociomateriality in Information Systems research, particularly, in relation to computational and digital artifacts and their implication for materiality, form and function.

How to Cite: Addo, A., 2015. Function, Form, Materiality and the Enigma of Digitality: Is Bitcoin Remaking Money as We Know It?. iSCHANNEL, 10(1), pp.9–17.
Published on 01 Oct 2015.
Peer Reviewed

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