I’m feeling refreshed and restored after attending last week’s inaugural Blockchain Infrastructure conference. My gratitude to long time and values-aligned friend Dan Hwang for organizing and inviting me to it.
The conference took place at the Austrian National Library, which proved to be not only a beautiful but also an intentional and thoughtful venue for the conversations that happened.
Crypto Conference History and Perspective
The first crypto event I attended was the ENS Community Workshop in 2017. That was followed by a string of others over the next couple of years. Highlights included a small roundtable organized by Placeholder VC and my first Devcon in 2018. Along the way there were team workshops and other community conferences.
Back then I looked forward to these get togethers. They presented opportunities to connect with values-aligned crypto colleagues and community members. I felt like I was stepping into a curious, expansive, optimistic and open-minded world.
Most importantly, the majority of participants took decentralization seriously. It was the reason we were there.
My conference experience changed over recent years. They became bigger. Pay-to-play became the norm.
Decentralization theater ruled, with large centralized institutions using their paid-for speaking slots to tell the audience how they were “investing in decentralization”. More recently the mention of “decentralization” became an eye-roll.
At one of them, the head of one of the largest staking as a service providers, who I met a year or so earlier, made sure to reassure me, after coming off the stage he just paid to share with some big banks, that he “still” believes “small validators” like Chainflow are important.
Gee, thanks 🙄