The Blockchain Futurist Conference 2018 was an eye opening event. In talking with friends, they said this was one of the better shows with quality speakers and quality sponsors too. Everything was perfect from the venue to the speakers to the attendees. I have never been to a conference where one after the other the speakers were worth listening to and taught you something new and also inspired you.
The venue was at the Rebel Entertainment Complex which turned out to be an excellent venue for a conference for a few thousand people. They had the perfect setup for seminars and presentations plus spaces for small booths and it was just a positive environment for networking.
I've been to all sorts of niche and generic online marketing conferences and this one was very different. Everyone was very friendly and it wasn't difficult to start conversations with people and find out why they are there. Likewise not once did I feel like there were pushy sales people trying to pitch me stuff like ICOs even. I was expecting it but was surprised that there was none of it. For those that had booths setup, you had to approach them to learn more about what they were offering. Aside from everyone being from all backgrounds and around the world, Toronto was obviously well represented. The other thing that was easy to notice is the male to female ratio. My guess is there were under 10% women in the space and that is something that people are trying to change.
Opening Night Party
The opening party was at the Spice Route, a club in Toronto. Most people were well dressed or in suits while others had t-shirts on representing their companies. These people were the easiest to talk to because it was a means of starting a conversation and learning about what they do. Overall friendly vibe of everyone there.
Something about Toronto
I had no idea that Toronto was considered one of the hubs in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. So many projects and founders either come from Toronto or were in Toronto to get their lives started in the space. It turns out that a lot of my friends that are into cryptocurrency didn't know about Toronto's glowing reputation. It is where the founders of Ethereum all met thanks to Anthony Di Iorio's Meetup.com group.
Anthony Di Iorio
I did look up quite a few of the speakers before attending the conference and I noticed Anthony was listed as a co-founder of Ethereum and also of Jaxx and Decentral so it is a serious resume no doubt. He was one of the early speakers. His presentation was listed as "The History of Interfaces" and the room was basically full on the Satoshi stage. He started off by telling the audience that he had his slides ready and his speech prepared to talk about interfaces but said that he changed his mind and was going to talk about his life story and tie it in with interfaces. I'll do my best to summarize his story and his message.
He started off by talking about his life in intervals of 10 years and how the previous block of time brought him to the current state. The first interval being in the 80s where he had his first personal computer and he became the go to computer guy in the family. In the 90s he made websites and started his first set of businesses. He said in the 2000s what became important to him was money as he was watching the 2008 financial crisis hit and said he needed to understand money better and economics. Then in the 2010s he eventually learned about Bitcoin and said he understood it right away and how it all tied together.
Many people use the analogy of blockchain being the internet 2.0 but Anthony summarized it better than anyone I've heard before. He said the internet opened the doors for the transfer of information but he said what blockchain technology and decentralization will do for us now is allow for the transfer of value and said that is a powerful thing. He also said to people to not get distracted by the reason why people came into the space in the first place which was change and innovation and not get distracted by the money.
He talked about how he setup his Meetup.com groups and this is how he met all the future founders of Ethereum. It does make you realize that Toronto has made a mark on the blockchain space and if Anthony hadn't of set up this group then maybe Ethereum wouldn't have got off the ground.
If I had walked away from the conference after that speech I would have said money well spent and the most inspiring talk I've listened to ever. It moved me and I got plenty out of it but if that wasn't enough, there were more great speakers to come.
Cole Diamond of Coinsquare
Cole is another Toronto entrepreneur that started the Coinsquare exchange. Like many others, his story starts with getting into Bitcoin and letting that be his gateway into the space.
Matthew Spoke of AION Foundation
I didn't know much about Matthew before but his speech was excellent and he shared a similar message to Anthony Di Iorio which is the industry has got sidetracked with money but people need to come back and find their reason in the space that is beyond that. He also talked about the idea of creating his company to have a strong purpose where people bought into the company idea and contributing to a significant project that has a long term goal in mind.
From his talk, it seemed like most companies have a very short term concept of getting a project off the ground and making profit from it but the idea of 5, 10 and 20 years down the road seems like it is so far in the future, it might as well be another lifetime. I made a note to research him more and learn more about what AION Foundation does.
He started and ended his talk with a slide of a quote from Harold B. Lee which is this:
The greatest waste in all the world is living below our potential
You guess it, Matthew is from Toronto.
Chris Tse from Cardstack
Unfortunately I missed his talk but got to chat with him at his booth with another programmer in detail about what Cardstack is doing and the solutions they are solving. This guy is very smart and passionate about Cardstack so recommend people look at what they do and put it as my homework to learn more about their token and solutions.
Trevor Koverko of Polymath
The main reason why I came to the event was to learn even more about security tokens and meet any of the people from the Polymath team. Polymath have their own security token platform and could be a true disruptive force when it comes to raising investments around the world. You could consider launching an IPO or just scrap it and go the security token route.
In short, Trevor didn't talk as much as he made a series of announcements which includes:
- Polymath launched their security token studio
- Announced 5 different STOs to launch in 90 days
I got to chat with Chris Housser and learn more about security tokens and a few other people on their team.
Schuyler "Sky" Minert from POA Network
Schuyler has an interesting project with POA where from what I understand, it works on Ethereum but they solve some issues of speed and scalability by running their network off chain. So in short when it comes to gaming and processing transactions, what is important is keeping rewards low cost and having them process quickly. Who knows if Ethereum is eventually going to address these issues but until then, it seems like POA have solved their own problems.
Going back to Polymath, you can get their coins on a few exchange like Binance.
This event was not like any other conference I have been to. The attendees were friendly, the projects were exciting and most of the speakers spoke with passion that wasn't driven by money. Make no mistake this industry has plenty of money in it but this is really about the future and how everything will change. Being at this event felt like it was a glimpse into the future where the rest of the world is sleeping. It does feel like it is the start of the internet all over again where those on the inside saw it's potential and the outside world wrote it off while it continued to get bigger and bigger.
OK Computer Magazine
This conference and experience has inspired me to launch OK Computer Magazine which will launch in the fall 2018. The first issue is going to be a guide to help all those sleepers wake up to the world of blockchain and all the changes that will come from it. The name of the magazine comes from Radiohead's 3rd album called OK Computer which was an album considered ahead of it's time with a glimpse into the future. From the wikipedia page on OK Computer:
The album depicts a world fraught with rampant consumerism, social alienation, emotional isolation and political malaise; in this capacity, OK Computer is often interpreted as having prescient insight into the mood of 21st-century life.
So are we headed for this future with consumerism, social and emotional alienation and political malaise? We are already in that state now and if it wasn't for blockchain technology, there might not be any escape from a depressing unavoidable future. Maybe ramping consumerism might not be solved but blochchain might help with financial inclusion. Maybe we'll have more decentralized social media platforms that don't exist to keep us addicted to it while profiting from our data. Maybe governments will be decentralized where we stop the cycle of electing corrupt politicians that constantly sell us on real change and a system where people have a voice where the votes can never be manipulated. This is the future I want to see and one that I only see possible with blockchain technology and decentralized systems.
To learn more of the launch visit https://okcomputermagazine.com/
In a single word to summarize the conference: decentralized.