Hack the Valley— an experience

Here is what I’ve learned from the weekend in Baar.

About 15 Teams have been formed at the 2nd Thompson Reuters Blockchain Hackathon. It was interesting that Baar attracted three times as many people as the London TR HackETHon last September. Base rate reasoning suggests the other way around: London > Zug.

Has the amount of blockchain developers increased that much in the last 4 months? Was the prize of 10.000 CHF the main motivator? Is Zug really such Crypto, such Valley?

The first evening passed with presentations of the sponsor technologies. This time, not only Ethereum was an option but competitive Blockchains like Hyperledger Fabric and IOTA.
IOTA got some attention during the whole event and it ignited my curiosity: how can a feeless consensus platform with minimal PoW possibly work? This is the first thing that I bring back home, a strong interest for IOTA.

The second lesson I bring back is much more technical in nature: the use of Ethereum’s ECRECOVER opcode to validate the signature of a message. My first primitive version of a state channel implementation happened in Baar. If the economics are right, a signed message is enough for a transaction. Example: a content producer wants to get likes for its content. A voter does not initiate a transaction. It is enough to send a signed message to the content producer, attesting that one is willing to give a like. Then the content producer has all the incentive to pay for the transaction and send the signed message to a contract that verifies its attestation with ECRECOVER.

The third thing, is my original realization that while everybody talks about identity these days, nobody talks about reputation. But reputation being the fabric of society, was the center of early economies (I think I’ve learned this from Alex Kampa). So, having a trust-less reputation network would be an extreme enabler in a digital economy/ society. At the same time the critique stands that transparent networks of reputation could find its sweet spot with individuals feeling them self under constant pressure to comply to a simplistic set of norms. Creative deviation becomes a risk nobody is willing to take. Research in sociology certainly has been done on these subjects.

IOTA had strong supporters and genuine critics. Controversy creates attention, and here is what I’ve found out. Strong-points are quick confirmations, no-fees, low performance requirements. The whole critics revolve around the security of Tangle. Are 51% attacks likely? Is consensus even reached? Why the obscure base 3 encoding? The Tangle looks like a interwoven fabric to me, this is the mental picture I have: the blockchain is a chain while Tangle is a fabric. It can only withhold attacks if enough interwoven.

The winners are…

Participating at a Hackathon is always fruitful. Exposing yourself to new ideas, new personalities and mastering some crises. Our team didn’t win, and I think the winners fully deserved it, because they demonstrated that IoT = Blockchain, by creating a service economy of things.

A zen moment at lake Zug.

Thank you dear reader, but I feel sorry for you because Jerome de Tychey wrote a better article about it. Start from zero.