27 June 2016

LAB Radio Interview with CoinStructive

I was asked to speak on a panel at Inside Bitcoins San Diego this past December 2015, on Making Bitcoin Easy for Small Business, and shared the stage with Chris Groshong of CoinStructive.

After meeting several of the other CoinStructive team members, I had a blast doing this LAB Radio interview with Chris and Aaron Mangal. We covered basic definitions of bitcoin and blockchains, and we discussed the need for diversity in the industry. A few noteworthy shout-outs for Tone Vays of BraveNewCoin, Patrick Byrne of Overstock, and Dawn Newton at Netki. And apologies for a few excessive um's - I blame the Corona.

Listen to the 22 minute interview here.
And check out the whole LAB Radio Episode 1 podcast on the CoinStructive site to hear other great interviews with Pamela Morgan, Joe Colangelo, Sheree Ip, and Spencer Bogart, amongst others.

26 May 2016

Review of OuiShareFest 2016, by other smart people

I'm just back from a great month in Europe, a mix of business and socializing, including time spent in Germany (Mainz and Berlin), Italy (with family), Belgium (Antwerp and Ghent), and France (Paris).

The last bit in Paris was as part of the OuiShareFest, the excellent yearly conference put on by the collaborative economy folks at OuiShare.

Ariane S. Conrad, the brilliant Book Doula, wrote a lovely review of this year's OuiShareFest, wherein she calls me "refreshingly plainspoken" in explaining blockchain technology.

Read the whole piece on her blog, and watch the adorable video recap of Day Two of the conference, with Ariane and I laughing around minute 1:30.

Other memorable bits of the conference included the work being done on Platform Coops, much of it led by the thoughtful and principled Nathan Schneider, whom I was incredibly excited to finally meet in person, as can be evidenced by the goofy look on my face, below.

No question, I'll be back for next year's OuiShareFest for sure. Join me?

22 April 2016

Keynote at JAX conference in Mainz, Germany

credit @JAXcon

I was invited to do a keynote presentation at JAX conference in Mainz, Germany, to an audience of enterprise software developers on 19 April 2016, and this is what they had to say about it:

The Future Belongs to Bitcoin and/or Blockchain

Caterina Rindi, a consultant and multilingual speaker, took the floor and talked about how blockchain can and will be part of the future through projects from different industries, including lottery, energy and Internet of Things. She addressed the most sensitive issues of Bitcoin and opined that the identity of this cryptocurrency’s founder is not relevant anymore because Bitcoin has been created “for the people.” Bitcoin and blockchain —not necessarily taken together— are threatening traditional institutions, but Ms Rindi is convinced that this digital currency “or a variation of it will be in our future."

JAXenter and S&S Media Group ran a great event and it was a pleasure to work with all the organizers and team. Hope to join them again in the future!

credit @JAXcon

Watch the video here:

01 March 2016

Huge says you should come to our blockchain session at SXSW

Nice to get a shout-out from Huge, encouraging folks to come to our South by SouthWest session in Austin on Bitcoin and Blockchain for Beginners - Sunday, 13 March, 3:30pm.

Jef Cavens, the crazy Belgian and I will cover blockchains most heavily, with an eye on how they're going to impact everyone's lives, and what's already in development.

Would love to see you there!

13 February 2016

The Block Chain Conference Brings Finance Industry and Blockchain Companies Together

The Block Chain Conference, held in San Francisco on February 10, billed itself as the first event to address the intersection of business and blockchains, bringing together the IT establishment and innovative startups. While it’s unclear whether the lofty goal was accomplished, to “accelerate the development, deployment and leverage of block chain-based approaches by global business,” it definitely brought together finance industry and blockchain technology companies in conversation.
The first presenters and keynotes opened with discussions on the nature of the blockchain industry and its strengths and weaknesses, admonishing the audience to think beyond the bitcoin blockchain and short term uses. Spencer Bogart, Equity Research Associate for Block Chain & Software (SaaS) at Needham & Company, championed public, permissionless, and open-source network. He sees them as being the best to build upon, highlighting their resilience, security, and anti-fragility as features that organizations need to resist the potential shocks of exploration and growth. He imagined a future of multiple blockchains and continued disintermediation.
In a slight contrast, keynote speaker John Wolpert, Global Blockchain Offering Director at IBM, argued that networks should be “permissive,” or a combination of centralized and decentralized services, much like ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). Wolpert also made a case for standardizing communication protocols, and insisted that IBM’s strategy of open innovation supporting projects like Java and XML would be the way to build the economically-aware “fabric” upon which interoperable platforms would grow. Wolpert also called out the Linux Foundation's Hyperledger Project, a cross-industry collaboration that includes IBM, DTCC, R2CEV, and Digital Asset, amongst others.

Judd Bagley, Director of Communications at Overstock.com and Chief Evangelist of t0.com, referenced US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s 2008 speech to give historical economic context for the development of bitcoin and then presented some statistics on who is using bitcoin for transactions and what they’re buying. Bagley also described t0’s crypto-finance unit as an example of how the path forward must be grounded in regulatory compliance.

The conference was occasion for several startups to launch new products, notably Ascribe’s BigChainDB, and Tendermint. Bruce Pon, Founder & CEO of Ascribe, was very well received, explaining how BigChainDB was designed to address the roadblocks to blockchain enterprise adoption, namely scalability, latency, and query. Special guest Leanne Kemp, Founder & CEO of Everledger, announced their partnership, using BigChainDB as a database for diamond certification and fraud detection.
Tendermint described their new Open Blockchain Platform, or “Trust as a Service,” promising to simplify blockchain application development for enterprise developers. Both products spoke to the needs of large-scale organizations for security, decreased latency, and improved throughput.

There were two jam-packed afternoon streams, one for Wall Street and financial services and the other for the New Business World, both tapping the implementations of smart contracts, integrations with Ethereum, and ­­­­­current development in practical applications.

Highlights included presentations from Ryan Singer (Blockchain Clearing) calling for an interledger protocol, Cheryl Gurz (The Bankcorp) encouraging the growth of global micropayments, Micah Winkelspecht (Gem) breaking down smart networks, and Tiana Laurence (Factom) showcasing how they track mortgages. Gideon Greenspan of CoinSciences sent a valuable video message on Avoiding Pointless Blockchain Projects. The entire conference live-tweet stream can be seen at the TBCCSF hashtag. Some notable tweets came from Michael O'Loughlin, Jen Massing Harris, and Caleb Chen.

All in all, the speaker list could have benefitted from more varied representation in other industries (not to mention gender and ethnicity). Other global businesses could have included media and hospitality, transportation, communications, law, or governmental organizations and NGO’s (for example, BitGive Foundation is currently building a Donation Transparency Project with BitPesa). The continued focus on finance and IT applications of blockchain technology is understandable, but to John Wolpert’s point, we need to think about more than just immediate networks, and recognize that we’re building new environments and tools for the future, for everyone.

This article was originally published on BraveNewCoin.

22 December 2015

Tapping Bitcoin and Blockchains to Support the Solidarity Economy

(excerpt from application to present at The Global Social Economy Forum - GSEF 2016 - in Montreal, Canada)

A revolutionary peer-to-peer technology was created in late 2008: Bitcoin and its underlying software, the Blockchain. Its creator's intention was to offer people a tool to circumvent the hold that financial systems had on their populations, and to prevent the corruption, mismanagement, and exclusion that governments, banks, and corporations were perpetuating.
Since then, Bitcoin has been embraced worldwide by early adopters, technologically savvy individuals, and more recently, those same financial institutions that were meant to be disrupted.

It is vital that more people understand how to use bitcoin and blockchains so that they can benefit disenfranchised communities, and so that the development of these technologies include more diverse perspectives than just software engineers and economists.

The Bitcoin blockchain and others such as Ethereum offer opportunities to disintermediate contracts and transactions, giving people the power to interact without lawyers, notaries, banks, realty agents, and other middlemen. These are tools for empowering and increasing social solidarity at both the local level and worldwide. Blockchains and digital assets can be used for encrypted online voting and shared governance, true peer-to-peer online marketplaces, crowd-funding and crypto-equity, and so much more.

My role is to educate and inspire more people to learn about bitcoin and blockchains, so they too can benefit and shape our future. Ongoing partnerships are informal and include educational groups (eg. CryptoCurrency Certification Consortium; Diginomics; College Cryptocurrency Network; Bitcoin Meetups worldwide), as well as small businesses and non-profit organizations (eg. Empowered Law; BitGive Foundation; Factom).

The adoption of Bitcoin as a currency is growing worldwide, but is still primarily used by the privileged, despite efforts to integrate better remittance options and improved micro-transaction tools for less wealthy populations. Similarly, bitcoin is also being used quite a bit for speculation rather than actual transacting. These factors are unfortunately concentrating its use rather than spreading opportunities for those who need them most. Along the same lines, large financial institutions (eg. Goldman Sachs) are experimenting with private blockchains to tap into their potential efficiencies, thereby recreating the exclusionary nature of our current financial systems. But the ability to create useful and open blockchain networks is available to all of us, if we work together and engage invested communities well.

Blockchains are the future - let's make sure everyone has access.