Abstract

To name or explain an IS phenomenon one often selectively integrates features from one or more concepts from domains familiar to end users. Consider “smart contract”, which integrates features from two domains: IT and law. However, such selective feature integration often remains implicit to its users, resulting in ambiguous features of novel IS concepts. This ambiguity can be opportunistically exploited. A prominent case, reported in this paper, is a hacker’s interpretation of a “smart contract”, who equated exploiting vulnerabilities in code to using terms and conditions in a legal contract. In so doing s/he legitimized, towards the Ethereum community, gaining a significant amount of cryptocurrencies. The contribution of this research in progress paper is to propose conceptual blending, an approach from cognitive linguistics, for systematically analyzing possible interpretations of IS concepts. For illustration purposes, we employ the aforementioned “smart contract” case and present two blends: a prima facie interpretation, and an authorial intent blend. In our focus on analyzing interpretations of IS concepts, this paper constitutes a first step in a larger project aiming at using instruments from cognitive linguistics for discourse analysis in the field of IS.

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