I wasn’t convinced.
Paid up, flights booked, AirBnb ready, and yet the reluctance remained. I’d signed up for the Bitcoin Expo in Toronto – partly as an excuse to see my younger brother on his birthday and partly to explore a new city – and the last thing I wanted to do was listen to some self-important talking head blather on about their decentralized iOS exchange.
But whatever, fuck the sessions, might as well go for the party and the social calls. Arriving Friday afternoon, my brother picked me up from Pearson and drove me downtown to my apartment on the 28th floor of some slapped-together highrise.i I dropped off my bags and made my way in no particular direction. Somehow or other, I arrived at Bitcoin Decentral, where a little party was spilling out from the old, narrow house and into the street. I decided to stick around for a bit and chatted with some a guy named Steven who was showing off a hardware wallet.ii After an hour there, the teeming throng walked over to the Metro Convention Centre for the evening’s program.
We arrived to the Metro Convention Centre and found our way to the South Hall for the Banquet Dinner, where Bitcoin Alliance of Canadaiii President and Ethereumiv Pumper Anthony di Iorio took the stage to give the opening remarks. Rather than kick off the Expo in high gear, he took this opportunity to bemoan his personal struggles in finding Canadian banking for his “Bitcoin business”v and completely neglected to mention that the banquet room looked like it was hosting a wedding.vi His bitching about banking bugged me, largely because it set the tone for the entire weekend. All the while, and also setting the tone, on the rotating sponsor screen right next to Anthony, known scam Butterfly Labsvii was flashing their red logo.
After Anthony left the stage, /r/Bitcoin idol Andreas M. Antonopolous took the mic to pre-scold the “creepy assholes” in the crowd who might heckle anyone based on race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. It was a painful demonstration in the lulziness of political correctness, faux egalitarianism, and how badly “the community” misunderstands Bitcoin. So that was basically the dinner.
Throughout the subsequent two days of “conference,” there was further bemoaning of Canadian banking,viii bragging of VC “success”,ix some admittedly useful tax advice,x much app store,xi some decentralizing,xii and a sizeable helping of anarcholibertarian philosophy.xiii I caught a few sessions but didn’t exactly run there first thing in the morning, arriving no earlier than 2:00pm either day, after I’d recovered from the night before, explored the town, and caught up with my brother.
All told, I found much more enrichment from the conversations outside the sessions and from my time exploring the city. I was able to find a handful of like-minded people who either saw or were open to being shown that Bitcoin is finance, not just tech, and that its disruptive potential lies not in the generosity of its community, though that’s certainly nice, but rather in its anti-consumerist and recipient-is-always-right nature.
Before leaving Edmonton, I wasn’t sure if I was going to take anything home from the Bitcoin Expo in Toronto. I did. I affirmed the value of my IRC Yeshiva by testing my latest theories against people who actually understand Bitcoin. The theories held up. And, as ever, will continue to until such time as demonstrably superior theories come along. Nothing is set in stone.
Now it’s back to the real conference – the one that never stops and never sleeps – it’s back to #bitcoin-assets.
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- The real estate bubble in Toronto is pretty grotesque. There are 50+ projects underway and the quality of the ones I saw indicated that many were rush jobs. [↩]
- I grilled Steven, who works for some company or other, about the RNG and he said that the entropy source was ambient electromagnetic radiation or some such. This is hardly my area of expertise, but I have a feeling that even if Steven knew what he was talking about, asciilifeform, the person to whom I delegate all matters of digital security, wouldn’t approve. [↩]
- BAC is like the Bitcoin Foundation for Canada. Though the two are unaffiliated, they’re equally opaque, equally “community-driven,” and equally effective at concentrating wealth from the many to the few. [↩]
- 29.4% pre-mined. Much 2.0. So promise. [↩]
- Bitching about the lack of Canadian banking is like bitching about how much the Leafs suck. It’s totally besides the point and shouldn’t impact our lives in the slightest. To my mind, these whiners fundamentally miss Bitcoin’s importance. Bitcoin isn’t the first in a coming revolution of decentralized phone apps that will bring fairness and equality to all. That’s what fiat does. And fiat is broken as shit. For all intents and purposes, Bitcoin is a bank orbiting the globe at 100,000 feet, and that bank is securing deterministically scarce property. Bitcoin’s power is derived entirely from this, not from any notions of Bitcoin as UNICEF. Bitcoin has the opportunity to form the foundation of human relationships that exist everywhere and nowhere at the same time. After Phil Zimmerman created PGP/GPG in 1992, it took 16 years for the other half of the equation to come together. Now it’s here, and now a new class of people, starting with the +m aristocracy in #bitcoin-assets, can begin to shape and improve the world. It’s right here before us. We just have to brace ourselves long enough to look it in the eye. [↩]
- The banquet hall was complete with mini-candles at the centre of each romantically-set table, putrid Bitcoin “art” on easels, women wearing pearls, and men wearing bowties. Ok, the only guy wearing a bowtie was “liberty-minded” Jeffrey Tucker, who, hilariously, fell asleep mid-way through the excruciatingly long evening program only to be awoken by unremarkable evening entertainer Tatiana Moroz, who thanked Mr. Tucker for helping her to “understand Bitcoin,” and in doing so upset his peaceful slumber. Unlike Mr. Tucker, I found the evening program to be perfect fodder for cracking up my table with my scam-and-whiner-cannon. We had a ball! [↩]
- BFL has been known to be a huge, huge scam since at least January 2013. Still, a couple of lawyers from Riddell Williams in Seattle took the time to attend the Expo and confront the two BFL bandits sitting at their booth on the trade show floor. The lawyers were representing a customer who’d spent $150k on hardware and had been strung along with an endless series of “delays” and “upgrades.” The two lawyers even tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to take the mining equipment that BFL had on display. This was only effective in involving the Metro Convention Centre security detail. The lawyers said they wanted to publicly shame BFL for their scamminess, but this having already been so well established, ought really to have directed their efforts at di Iorio and BAC for allowing BFL in the door in the first place. Ah well. [↩]
- Particularly in the “Entrepreneurship Panel.” [↩]
- Michael Terpin, somewhat embarrassingly, bragged about his Mastercoin investment being his firm’s “home run.” It’ll be worth checking back in on that whammy in 12 months. Terpin also noted that 100M USVentureCapitalBucks were “invested” in Bitcoin start-ups in 2013, from which it’s hard to imagine that there’s even 20M of value left, compared to the 500M+ value had they invested in pure bitcoin. Live and learn. Or posture and pretend. Either way. [↩]
- LIFO ain’t kosher, so it’s DCA or FIFO for Canuckian speculators. [↩]
- A couple of boys from Alabama under the “BitStore” banner found a way to upload an iOS app without submitting it to Apple’s App Store, effectively cracking the cartel and opening the ecosystem to Android-like development. This was less interesting than the insight from one of the BitStore guys who audited the code of OmniWallet, a Mastercoin web wallet that was shamelessly pumped all weekend despite being in “pre-alpha,” and
foundclaimed that OmniWallet stores user info and private keys unencrypted in plain text on its servers, potentially making OmniWallet a Flexcoin waiting to happen. [Update: Claims were not verified by the author] [↩]
- A decentralized Silk Road knockoff won the $20k hackathon prize. [↩]
- Stefan Molyneaux was on about how Bitcoin would make all war untenable, missing the point that manipulated currency is only one way to finance war, albeit a popular one in history, and that people will always fight over scarce resources and for egotistical aggrandizement. Just off the top of my head, another means of financing war is to incentivize soldiers with the spoils of victory. Can you think of another? [↩]