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Understanding the values enacted in the design of blockchain technologies by applying social semiotics and the walkthrough method

Abstract : Blockchain technology is a relatively new phenomenon that has informed many discourses regarding the future of governance, economics, and the internet. However, current research has tended to generalise the politics of blockchain technology and has not considered the ideologically diverse blockchain start-up companies that have recently emerged. This thesis aims to understand the values enacted in the design of blockchain technologies by applying social semiotic discourse analysis in combination with the walkthrough method to a dataset of blockchain apps/websites (Steemit, Creativechain, Democracy Earth and Bitnation) and their accompanying white papers. This mixed method analysis revealed that the blockchain start-ups held shared values around the concepts of decentralisation, trust in algorithms, and trust in individuals over institutions. The start-ups were ideologically diverse in their political orientations, expressing ideals around the digital commons, cyber-libertarianism and capitalism. These orientations are related to values typically associated with blockchain enthusiasts such as cyber-libertarianism, crypto-anarchy and communal ownership of technology. Although blockchain technologies may change in the future in terms of technical specification these key issues will remain. Overall, this thesis has shown how the values embedded in blockchain technologies can be understood empirically through close discourse analysis. It has also made a novel contribution to the field by offering a new augmented app walkthrough method that allows the analyst to consider the multimodal resources used in these technologies.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/tel-03381243
Contributor : Olivia Inwood Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Saturday, October 16, 2021 - 9:44:22 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 6:29:39 AM

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Olivia Inwood. Understanding the values enacted in the design of blockchain technologies by applying social semiotics and the walkthrough method. Humanities and Social Sciences. University of New South Wales, 2018. English. ⟨tel-03381243⟩

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