August 3rd & 4th we’re putting on our Digital Currency and Distributed Web conference in Boulder, CO. Short for Distributed Consensus, DISCON is an attempt to build the event that we thought was missing from the Digital Currency space. While our team is not new to event planning, we have learned a LOT in the past few months. With DISCON just under 50 days out, I want to take a few minutes to discuss six reasons that might compel you to attend.
1. Quality Content
As a long time infosec conference attendee and speaker, it was paramount to me that we set the bar high on content. Specifically, we have set course for original research and ideas. Not that every presentation will be unique to DISCON, but more so that the content itself will contain unique perspectives and original research. For example, take Kevin Owocki’s presentation, “Why you probably shoudn’t do an ICO”. In this talk Kevin opens a relevant and important conversation around the ICO fundraising model and the potential pitfalls.
Our tagline this year of, Beyond the Hype, eludes to our desire to take a more critical approach to the Digital Currency and Distributed Web space. There is a reason that we don’t plaster everything we touch with #blockchain and there is a reason we invited Tony Arcieri to present at DISCON. By engaging in real and critical conversations about this emerging tech we stand to strengthen the foundation.
2. User Experience Driven
You’ve spoken, and we’ve listened. One of my co-founder, Hunt’s favorite questions to ask people over the past few months has been, “What do you see happening at conferences right now that you like, and what do you see happening that you don’t like?”. For whatever reason, these questions seem to elicit a strong response from people, which is great! We’ve also kept our eye out for general feedback from the community at large as well:
From functional things like outlandish badge lines, faulty internet, and horrible food, to more social and human needs like diversity, we’re putting time and effort into ensuring that DISCON is focused on attendee experience.
At the same time, feedback loops are key! If you have ideas or recommendations please reach out to us via firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below!
3. Diversity & Inclusivity
Putting on our first cryptocurrency conference, there has been a steep learning curve for me on this one. While I was keenly aware of issues related to male dominated tech events, awareness is simply not enough.
What’s become clear is that there needs to be a concentrated effort made to lay a foundation for putting on diverse events. This effort should permeate into every aspect of the event. From speakers and attendees to content and our team itself, diversity needs to be incorporated at a host of different levels.
Generally speaking, this quote helped us as a building block:
While DISCON is most certainly a work in progress, we’ve taken a few key steps to establish a diverse and inclusive foundation.
- Ask for help — The idea of two white guys establishing a new standard in tech event diversity!? Umm maybe not the best route :) We asked around and found a number of people that were ready and willing to help! Not only that, but there are a lot of great resources out there as well.
- Diversify the team — As far as I can tell, one of the most powerful ways to incorporate diversity into an event is to start with a diverse team. Our initial efforts here have already introduced a new set of ideas and perspectives for DISCON.
- Be vocal — While it’s a good starting point to say, “we support diversity”, it’s important to make it well known and engage in the larger conversation as well. We’ve also introduced a Code of Conduct for DISCON. Moving forward we will continue to explore new ways to build diversity into the core of our event.
4. You are not the product
We are making a commitment to attendees, that they will not be pitched products and ICOs by our presenters. The idea that you would pay to get into a conference and the event promoter then tries to package you up and turn a profit off you runs directly in opposition to the DISCON mission.
While we do have sponsors for our event, we’re building out and implementing a sound vetting process to ensure that the companies you learn about at DISCON align with our values and engage with you in meaningful ways. We have noticed that a number of organizations have requested a “pay to present” model in which they pay for a sponsor booth and then get a chance to present their product deck. This is not a model that DISCON has chosen to pursue. Presentations are reviewed by our board independent of sponsorship arrangements.
5. Giving back
DISCON will give a portion of proceeds to various charitable organization. At the local level, we will be donating a portion of event proceeds to independent radio pioneers KGNU.
We will have an announcement soon about a blockchain based charity that we’re looking to establish a partnership with as well.
Another area of interest is charitable organizations that support diversity in tech. If you know something that might be a good fit, please reach out!
6. DISCON After Dark
As our Director of the Arts for DISCON describes it,
DISCON After Dark is a bridge from the days logic and complexity into the nights mystery and creativity. Explore the rich relationship between art and technology as you peruse beautiful downtown Boulder After Dark.
With multiple installations across the event, give your left brain a break and allow the night to carry you to new ideas, spaces and relationships. Tightening the gap between knowledge and creation through art, music and collaboration.
Additionally, we’re using DCAD as a means to incorporate various local bars, restaurants and other businesses into the mix. For example, we’re in talks with the Litecoin foundation to work with a local bar on accepting LTC payments for the evening. By facilitating these connections we help move us closer to mass adoption and increase awareness of Digital Currency.
Also, something that we’ve heard a number of times:
“Honestly, I don’t care much for the talks, I just go to these events to network”.
While this was hard for me to digest (I absolutely love a good lineup of presentations!) we are going to provide something different and more exciting than standard vendor booths and happy hour.
Be on the look out for more info on DCAD as it continues to evolve at a rapid pace. We have some artists in the works that we’re really excited about!
Thanks for reading and please do consider reaching out and/or leaving a comment with any feedback and questions you might have. Your input is important to us!