An estimated 5,000 people attended ethereum’s biggest event where numerous presentations were given over four days, with countless of events around Prague, including a ravecon.
This was ethereum’s big stage, but not exclusively. There were thinkers from the dawn of the computer age, pioneers who shaped in part the current laptops and the current internet.
Not Tim Berners Lee, but someone from the Internet Archive was there. Someone from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other likewise pioneers.
Within this space, there were at least three other coins represented. Most prominently Zcash, with Zooko Wilcox taking the main stage.
A less prominent space was reserved for Emin Gün Sirer, who nonetheless had an interesting presentation on a new consensus mechanism for a new blockchain.
When that will be launched is not very clear, just as it isn’t very clear how this apparent breakthrough functions, but we’ll probably hear much more about it in due course.
An even less prominent space was not quite reserved for Bitcoin Cash. It appears they found it fit to show up nonetheless, and why not.
Bringing to mind a suggestion for an actual blockchain conference, where all the coins and all the projects – or the ones that have something to say – so take the stage.
That would be a far too big event presumably, with unbiased organizing of it appearing difficult. But Devcon appears to have done a bit of its part by expanding beyond ethereum.
It would have been nice if there had been a more meaningful outreach, looking at the present instead of the long gone past.
The Biohacking community comes to mind. They have the same sort of “spirit” and energy. Their breaking of the freedom frontiers is more controversial than this space, but there are some individuals who do overlap who could have been given the stage to inspire.
Likewise there could have been a link to the Makers community, who could very much assist this space by linking their artisan creations with blockchain IoT.
Ethereum in particular, so being a Turing complete world computer, can link with many other technologies and fields. Artificial intelligence is an easy one, data mining. There’s overlap there too. They could have told us what blockchain adds to it, and indeed what it doesn’t. How it can disrupt data monopolies, or how it might fail to do so.
For a cherry on the cake, our devcon would have had something about flying cars, or indeed the robots that now can walk.
That’s because this space is not an island. Quite far from it. Much of its potential can only be realized by linking ethereum with other emerging technologies and inventions, as well as movements.
By that measure, controversial as it may be (these pages are not owned by any billionaire so we can say what we please), Devcon this year was a bit boring.
The reason may be because ethereum isn’t quite ready to meet demand. There are these eight implementations working on eth 2.0. Vitalik Buterin, Chief Scientist at the Ethereum Foundation, gave the highlight presentation on the roadmap to Serenity. There were announcement in and outside of Devcon on second layer Plasma sidechain testnets and on hardware based scaling. Even EY came up with a privacy minded announcement.
All suggesting scalability is a matter of time, but that’s only part of the equation. Blockchain tech is still very young. There are plenty of things which need refining that aren’t related to scalability. And more importantly, there are plenty of things that need to be built which don’t quite need the scalability right now, but the testing, the refining, and so on.
There are also plenty of things that have been built. Time, necessarily, is in short supply but there could have been a demo of up and coming projects, maybe even a mini contest in one of those 10 or so halls.
An inspiring song, to sort of capture the current spirit like Bitcoin Baron did in 2013, would have been nice. But prose read in lyrics was quite the opposite.
It is, moreover, very hypocritical of ethereum, which itself came to life through an ICO, to tell others to not ICO.
Many of the projects that make this ecosystem did ICO. Status, Maker, ZRX, BAT, the maths above from OMG and far too many others to mention.
There were scoundrels, there were scammers, but so too there were very many fine projects which are starting to deliver.
Around 95% of start-ups fail. Many start-ups are “scams.” There is no reason to expect any different in this space. Just as there is no reason to kill off the potentially hugely innovative 5%.
Arrogance isn’t quite what we can afford at this fairly crucial time in blockchain’s development. Nor the borderline Got Mine, F U vibe.
Snarkiness and virtual signaling in what may be a group think bubble can easily make one feel good temporarily, but what would have been more useful and more meaningful as well as harder would have been to put someone on stage who can suggest how equitable ICOs can be undertaken.
The world is watching, or could be watching. And though easy it is to put something out there as some sort of duty, it is just as easy to do so in a way that doesn’t react or even get immersed in “the signal,” but leads and makes it irrelevant.
The innovative ideas, however, save for the base protocol development – and maybe even there – won’t come from the Ethereum Foundation (EF). They’ve built and they’re building the tools upon which all else can be built.
EF is just a facilitator. It is for others to take a lead of their own. There’s the Token Summit, the very impressive Edcon, ETHGlobal. There will presumably be more with a different sort of focus to EF’s Devcon.
For after all, this is truly a decentralized space. Leadership here isn’t granted by anything, but by ability and by building capability.
Because ethereum now has become too big for any one entity to showcase much of it. Even in the many rooms of Devcon.
Yet the focus could have perhaps been tweaked a bit better. Even at the protocol level, there could have been more detail on sharding.
There was much explanation regarding the Beacon Chain, but little if anything on sharding, unless we missed it.
Yet, with all of it said, it is at the end up to all of us to make the show count. There are no heads. Even us here critiquing can be critiqued for not going out there to put blockchain flying cars on display, with Makers IoT-ing while hackers show how we can control our own DNA data to the tune of “Rising to Dream.”
A statement that itself might turn out to be quite symbolic because there might be a realization that it is time to stand up. That it is time to not quite look up to EF or others for leadership, but to stand up and build ourself.
It is perhaps time to realize that our dreams are ours, not others’, and if we want them realized, there is no one better but us to try.
Time to realize that we, every single one, has a play in this story. And we, not anyone else, make ethereum and the wider movement of an optimistic strive towards better, faster, stronger, and higher.
Suggesting this may well have been the best Devcon yet in implicitly calling for the builders to rise as teenagehood knocks on the now ten years old blockchain world.