The Tales of Alphanumerical Symbols in Media: The Case of Bitcoin

Jonas Hedman*, Tanya Beaulieu*, Michael Karlström

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Bitcoin, a decentralized cryptocurrency, has not only given rise to a wave of digital innovations but also stirred up considerable controversy. Some have hailed it as the most significant innovation since the Internet, while others have dismissed it as a Ponzi scheme that should be abandoned and forbidden. Regardless of these varying views, this is an innovation in need of scrutiny. In this paper we present a metastory of Bitcoin, based on an interpretative study of 737 news articles between 2011–2019. Through our analysis, we identified five narratives, including The Dark Side, The Bright Side, The Tulip Mania, The Idea, and The Normality. Our analysis demonstrates the interpretive flexibility of technology as influenced by ideologies, and we construct a theoretical model demonstrating media’s role as constructor and conduit. The metastory provides an institutional look at the broader interpretations of digital innovations as well as the multifaceted nature of digital innovations and how their interpretation evolve over time.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)2768-2792
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Bitcoin
  • Digital innovation
  • Constructionist
  • Narrative analysis
  • Qualitative
  • News media

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