4 Takeaways from the Baltic Honeybadger Bitcoin conference and why you should go to #BH2018

I’m writing this while returning from an awesome weekend at the Baltic Honeybadger 2017 Bitcoin conference in Riga, Latvia. For those of you at home wondering whether this event was worthwhile and what some interesting takeaways are, this is a post for you!

In case you’re wondering about the name, the Honeybadger is the animal most frequently associated with Bitcoin, as Honeybadgers “don’t care” by nature and just keep going no matter what happens.

Disclaimer: Nobody asked me to write this post, I just had a great time and wanted to share my thoughts.

Great organisation

Riga-based P2P Bitcoin exchange HodlHodl hosted the conference. They went above and beyond to ensure the quality of the event as they:

  • Kept out promotional talks, including about their own platform.
  • Attracted some of the biggest names in the space.
  • Maintained an accessible price point ($200 for early bird).
  • Ensured all aspects of the ecosystem were represented (Users, Exchanges, Developers, Miners, Merchants, Educators, Security experts, Traders…)
  • Livestreamed the whole thing for people at home! (you can watch everything here)

My 4 takeaways

1. We need more people to work on Lightning

Elizabeth Stark from Lightning labs gave an energetic talk about the progress on the Lightning Network this past year. I knew there weren’t a whole lot of people working on this, but I was shocked to find out there are only about a dozen doing so full time.

All of us are looking at and talking about LN as a way to make Bitcoin and Blockchains in general scale, while many don’t realise how much pressure there is on just a handful of people to deliver it.

It’s time we use our networks to help spread the word that Lightning Labs is looking for more experienced people. Help spread the message to get LN live sooner! The requirements are steep, but together we may be able to reach the right people.

2. We need far more education, in far more languages

In my opinion, the “blocksize debate” and nearly all of the divisiveness in the community over the past years originates from a single problem: Many people were poorly introduced to Bitcoin.

From day one, they were told Bitcoin is about cheap digital payments. I was one of those people too. It wasn’t until I watched a bunch of Andreas Antonopoulos’ videos that I understood Bitcoin is about far more than that, and that achieving the goal of becoming global peer-to-peer cash will take a lot of engineering work.

At the conference, Andreas emphasized how incredibly important it is to have more Bitcoin education and in more languages, something that can’t be emphasized enough. If you want to help him with translating his work to different languages, reach out to him!

I finally got to meet Andreas myself and thanked him for inspiring me to become a speaker and for everything he’s done for the space, with a pack of Stroopwafels!

3. Meeting in person blows talking online out of the water

Every attendee I talked to said the same thing: It’s great to get a “feel” for what’s going on in everyone’s minds beyond 140/280 character tweets or waterfalls of Reddit comments.

I talked to..

When you talk in person, you get a much better feel of what drives them. It became clearer than ever to me that the developers intrinsically want to build something beautiful that will change the world for the better. I love that purity of heart, and it’s something that really attracts me to the space.

Yes, these people have made money by being early adopters, but if money was all they cared about, they would have cashed out by now or ran off to launch ICOs a year ago. There is definitely a lot of greed in the crypto space, but also a lot of goodness.

4. There is a lot of hard work ahead

It’s easy to become complacent when the price keeps rising, but as Roman Snitko (CTO of HodlHodl) said during his presentation:

I fully agree and will personally ramp up my efforts to help with education.

During the final panel on Cryptocurrency security, the panelists spoke about all the engineering challenges and the challenges to come with bringing fungibility and privacy to Bitcoin transactions. I’d definitely recommend to watch that part if anything.

Thanks to everyone for making it such a great experience. Definitely one of the highlights of the year for me and I hope to be there next year too!

Oh yeah, and I “Buy Bitcoin”-bombed the trader panel 😜