'Effing' the ineffable: opening up understandings of the blockchain

Deborah Maxwell, Chris Speed, Dug Campbell

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Blockchain, an innovative public ledger of transactions that underpins digital currencies such as Bitcoin, has the potential to open up and offer radical alternatives to civic life, democracy and society. Yet there is currently only a small, technically savvy section of society who understand its principles. Therefore in order to work through and realize the potential of the blockchain and its transferability across society we need to find means to open up and reduce its 'ineffable' nature. This paper presents and reflects on an approach that made the complexity of the blockchain understandable or 'effable' using physical modeling. The design-based approach adopted a tangible system of Lego and colored stickers to allow participant-actors to physically enact transactions on a Blockchain Lego 'block'. This modeled simplification was not designed as a comprehensive or accurate explanation of Bitcoin and Blockchain but rather as a prompt for opening up rich dialogue and insightful lines of questioning.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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