I am currently writing from a few miles above the (definitely round) Earth as I travel back to Brooklyn from Riga, Latvia after attending the Baltic Honeybadger conference over the weekend. I don't think I ever fully adjusted to the time difference and, as a result, I am completely out of it at the moment. Haven't slept in more than 24 hours I don't think, so bear with me if there are any mistakes in today's rag. With that being said, I am feeling more invigorated than I have in a long time about the mission we freaks are on as we attempt to bring the complete idea of Bitcoin into fruition so we can revolutionize the way our society organizes and conducts commerce.
Up to this point in my journey down the rabbit hole, I have never really been a big conference guy, only ever having gone to two before this weekend, but wanted to attend the Baltic Honeybadger Conference hosted by Hodl Hodl in particular due to the quality of the speakers, the opportunity to network, and the hyper-focus on Bitcoin and lack of shitcoinery.
Last week was a humbling experience for everyone working on and around Bitcoin after the discovery of a bug that, if exploited, could inflate the supply of bitcoins in existence, force a reorganization of the chain, and potentially set the project back a considerable amount of time as confidence and public perception would have definitely taken a hit. Despite all of this and the fact that we are still in the depths of a bear market, the vibes in Riga were PURE. I have never been more confident about the future of Bitcoin and the people working on it. The passion, thoroughness, and focus of the humans dedicated to making this revolution a successful one is unrivaled in this space. I say this with 100% certainty.
The last conference I attended was in Chicago, had a ton of shitcoinery, and promised thousands of people would be in attendance. Upon arrival, I discovered that those thousands had dwindled to hundreds and there were very few worthwhile topics or projects to explore. It was a bunch of confused suits trying to figure out what they should "blockchain" and token projects looking to prey on said suits. My experience this weekend was the exact opposite. I was expecting an intimate gathering in the Baltic with Bitcoiners from Eastern Europe and a few hardcore stragglers. What I found when I arrived at the warehouse were the conference was a crowd more than twice the size I was expecting filled with many people who had traveled from all over the world.
The structure of the conference was a tightly scheduled series of presentations and panel discussions broken up with quick coffee and lunch breaks. Some of the content was extremely technical and dense, while other presentations, I assume, rehashed some things that most people in the crowd probably already knew. Overall, I think the content was incredibly engaging, informative and true to the cypherpunk ethos. Off the stage and outside of the warehouse, you could find Bitcoiners who had only ever conversed with each other online or via chatting apps having in depth conversations about the future of the protocol and what we could do to help push it forward towards success. When the talks were over and everyone retreated from the warehouse back to the center of town, many met in bars and restaurants to continue the conversations much like the Founding Fathers would meet as they were scheming to overtake Great Britain and claim their freedom. The salty smell of the Baltic Bay was mixed with a scent of revolutionary vigor.
One thing that always amazes me about most people who are working on Bitcoin is how honest they are about Bitcoin's limitations, the onerous hurdles we face in the future, and the possibility that this turns out to be a failed experiment at some point in the future. This type of candor leads everyone to thoroughly think through every attack vector they can, helping to develop the adversarial mindset needed to approach a distributed network that secures money. On top of this, there were many conversations about what people would sacrifice to ensure Bitcoin's success in the long run. This is not hyperbole; the number of the people who were asked whether or not they would sacrifice their personal BTC stash to ensure its success was startling. There were also many who said they would continue to work on Bitcoin even if governments started offing contributors.
This may sound hyperbolic, cultish and/or idiotic to outsiders, but these men and women were not proclaiming these things to pander to the group. I honestly believe every signle one of them truly believes in the massive potential for Bitcoin to change the world for the better, and if its success is contingent on the sacrafice of wealth or limb, they would step up in a heartbeat. This isn't a game to us. This is an ongoing revolution.
As I sit here about to pass out from pure exhaustion, I can't help but think of how rewarding it is to be working side by side in a distributed manner with the most passionate people I have ever met in my life. Whether or not Bitcoin is successful in the long-run, these are the type of people I want to ride or die with.
Baltic cuisine, not the best.