Enough with the bitcoin images

You want to know the one thing about cryptocurrency reporting that drives me mad? It’s not just from the mainstream press either – the specialised press is even more guilty, if that’s possible.

It’s this:

bitcoin cnbc

If I counted on my fingers the number of articles a week that use an image with a physical bitcoin, I would need more hands.

Why do so many articles insist on representing bitcoin as a physical thing? It’s not.

And insisting on presenting it that way – as if us humble humans are incapable of grasping the concept unless we can see it – is condescending.

It speaks to our comfort with the visual.

Most of our development as humans has been building on what we can see. The realm of ideas has traditionally been left to the philosophers, while money and power typically went to the engineers. It’s one of the many reasons art has had such a pull on us over the centuries. Ideas that we can’t see are hard to wrap our heads around.

And everyone knows that money means coins, right? (It doesn’t.)

To be fair, understanding finance is not for everyone – ledgers and compound returns are not straightforward. And if seeing a bitcoin helps us accept that it is real (or, as real as anything gets in the money world), then, sure, let’s use images.

No.

As long as we hang on to the notion that money has to be physical, we won’t fully understand the underlying implications. And, it puts physical boundaries around an abstract concept while anchoring us in the limitations of the past.

The very press that strives to help us understand how this new technology will impact the way we see the world, is perpetuating the old paradigm. It needs to stop.

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