Bitcoin: you can't see it, you can't touch it, but you've still got to find some way to illustrate an article about it day after day, week after week.
It's actually a trade secret in the bitcoin industry that there are only 10 types of bitcoin stock images in existence, with the illusion of variety being created by making slight variations of these template pictures and hoping desperately that none of the readers will notice.
In this feature, CoinDesk explains the secret meaning behind the only bitcoin images you'll ever see.
Be warned, the world may never look the same again.
1. The Miner
You know the great thing about 'mining' as a metaphor? There’s a ton of pictures of it.
But since modern mines actually look like the set of a Lord of the Rings movie, it’s better to picture the golden age of mining, where a hobo with a strong back and a dream could hitch his way out to the Klondike and come back richer than your grandma’s beef stew.
What’s the hashrate of that pickaxe, pardner?
2. The Bitbrain
Look at this guy: he's got bitcoin on the brain, literally.
He can’t think of anything else. "Dedicated", you might think, "good for him". What you don't know is that he’s slowly starving to death in his apartment because he hasn’t stopped watching the price ticker for 72 hours straight, his girlfriend left because he spent more time on r/btc than he did with her, and now he won’t even answer calls from his mom.
3. The Skyline
The year is 2025, the place, somewhere finance-y, probably Asia because they're already a little bit in the future.
Dramatically lit skyscrapers loom in the background, adorned with some form of the bitcoin logo and a liberal use of the Photoshop glow filter.
Disembodied symbols float through the air: stock charts, chat bubbles, perhaps a Wi-Fi sign or two: it's like William Gibson writing a dramatized version of Roger Ver's twitter feed.
'The Skyline' tells you that the future of money is here and it's going to blow your tiny mind.
4. The Triple-M
Put the bitcoin on ya phone, bada-bing bada-boom, three words for ya baby: magic mobile money.
5. The Counterpoint
You know what people in the bitcoin community never talk about? The fact that cryptocurrency is better than fiat.
So just to be absolutely clear, here’s a picture of a bitcoin beating fiat currency in some way: displacing the dollar, outperforming the pound, roundhousing the rupee, fencing the franc, knifing the naira, boxing the baht, wristlocking the riyal, and powerbombing the peso off the top rope into a steel chair.
You get the idea.
6. The Blockchain: Reloaded
"Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you felt something. You’ve felt it your entire life: There’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there. Like a splinter in your mind. Driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?"
"Do you want to know what it is...?"
7. The Collage
Time was, if you wanted to make a collage you had to go to the trouble of finding some magazines, cutting out pictures, gluing them together ... but no more! These days you can stitch together a heavy handed visual metaphor faster than you can say ‘successful businessman’.
So here’s a tip: combine any object with a picture of some circuitry and you’re showing that it’s like that thing – but more tech.
A globe and some wires? The Internet! Money and a motherboard? Bitcoin! You can try it out at home, but be careful, kids.
8. The Point of Sale
INT Boardroom, day.
[Executive 1]: Tompkins, bitcoins don't have a physical form. There's no way we can photograph them. It's impossible.
[Executive 2]: But the deadline is in two hours! You and I both know we're finished at this firm if we don’t come up with something. Think, dammit. Think.
[Exec 1, quietly]: What if… what if you dressed up as a man who… accepts bitcoin?
[Exec 2]: That’s so crazy it just might work! Get me a chalkboard and my best tie, stat!
9. The Lock ’n’ Key
Sure, storing bitcoins safely these days means putting them in a triple factor cold storage nuclear bunker in space, but isn’t that basically the same as locking it with a big lock? I thought so.
This picture represents the kind of safety and security that we had in the good old days when the world was still made up of physical things that you could touch.
"Remember physical things?" you’ll say one day over a pint of cybeer in your favourite VR bar. "Things were great weren’t they? Back when they were actually made of stuff. They don’t build ‘em like that any more do they?"
Then you’ll pay the tab in Ultracoin 10.5 Classic Plus and vanish off into the void.
10. The HUD
Who is this man? What kind of display is he using? Are we trapped in the computer? Is he sending a bitcoin ransom to get us out, or will Tom Cruise stop it before it even happens?
We may never know.
The people at Shutterstock have kindly prepared a bigger selection of images for all your bitcoin stock photo needs. Take a look here!
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.