Now that I’ve been writing about Bitcoin for a year and my book “Three Minute Reads on Bitcoin” https://www.amazon.com/dp/1718610351/ is done, what better way to start a new year in Bitcoin than to attend an event? As I write these words I’m on my way to Stockholm to attend the BLOXPO convention where I’ll be seeing some big names in crypto. Around the same time last year I decided to start writing and what a year it has been! Nowadays I’m an “influencer” and a “Bitcoin expert” according to some and I intend to at least try to live up to the expectations that such kind words imply. Hopefully I’ll be able to connect with some other enthusiasts tomorrow and get a well needed inspirational push into a new, more productive year.
Right! Half a conference later and I’m currently listening to Christian Ander, the founder of the Swedish exchange BTCX. So far I’ve had a great time connecting to a lot of people. The overall vibe I get from the event is that this is still an industry in its infancy on the verge of exploding. I met an old friend from my tall ship era that knew half of the people behind the event and she introduced me to a lot of them. The Richard Heart versus two Swedish politicians debate was the most epic thing I’ve seen in a long time. They bragged about the nations digitization of payments and got eaten alive by Richards arguments for physical cash and against inflation. Great stuff. Another peak was when Eric Wall gloriously debunked a proposed sharding “solution” to the scalability problem blockchains are said to have. I’m still baffled by how little so many of these self-proclaimed experts (such as the minister of financial markets) seem to know about these subjects. It feels shallow. Then again, so much of the internet is about attention and attention only. Some people at the conference, like Isabella Löwengrip for instance, have really mastered the craft of getting people’s attention. Personally, I would have preferred a nerdier, more subtle line-up. I would have loved to hear Johan Norberg’s views on this, he’s perhaps the only Swedish flag-bearer of Milton Friedman’s world view.
Ok, now enjoying a well deserved beer at Crazy Horse, Sveavägen, recommended to me by an old friend. Watching twitter for event events. Trying to get my head around all of this. The state of cryptocurrency. The state of Stockholm. The state of myself. Where is this thing going, whose ideas are relevant and whose aren’t. Met a few ether enthusiasts at the event. Still not convinced about it. Seems fragile. Being at an event that focuses a lot on ICOs seems sooo 2017. A lot of talk about of “utility” and Bitcoin “not really being used”, as if hodling wasn’t using. So many of these people still doesn’t seem to get it. Bitcoin is a concrete foundation that short sighted people build houses of cards on top of.
Stepping outside of the bar I realize that I find an alleyway nearby strangely familiar. Turning back to Sveavägen I notice the local theater, Grand, and it suddenly dawns on me that this is where Sweden’s former prime minister, Olof Palme, was shot in 1986. I was ten at the time and my parents woke me up early that morning to watch the news. A lot has happened since then. Most people attending the conference today were born around that time and to them it must seem like ancient history. Well I remember it and the impact it had on the nation back then. We had a minute of silence in school and everyone seemed very upset and uneasy. I can’t help but thinking that politicians don’t seem to matter that much in people’s lives anymore. It’s as if everyone takes our current political systems for granted and that there’s nothing anyone can do about it. They’re right and they’re wrong. You can’t do anything about the institutions that exist but you can choose to bypass them. To a certain extent anyway.
At the after party I run into a fellow oddball loner, a Brit who apparently knows nothing about cryptocurrency. Nevertheless he’s travelling around, visiting different blockchain events such as this one just to get to know more. At this point I’m a bit tired of mingling but we still manage to get to talk to Richard again for a bit and also to Larry Sanger, the co-founder of Wikipedia, who’s trying to build a blockchain based version called Everipedia. When I ask him about how they’ll accomplish decentralization and how such a wiki could ever be immutable he admits that it’s a hard challenge. When the whole party moves downstairs I give away the last proof-copy of my book to a couple of young enthusiasts and I decide to leave shortly after. From the tweets I read about the party the day after I missed some table-dancing and excessive tipping. Bummer.
I hope the next event I go to will be more Bitcoin oriented and that some of the more questionable actors in the space will have been flushed out by then. On the whole though, I had a great time and I like to congratulate the organizers of the event on a job well done.