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San Francisco Blockchain Week — The Cultural Shift out of ICOs onto Technology

The cultural narrative of 2017 during peak ICO hype was that of bootstrapping what were largely hazy ideas summed up into whitepapers with public investor funding. This heat has largely simmered down now, one year later, from the vantage point of being in the middle of a bear market for the token economy. With that, the people who are left still in the business of blockchain technologies are the self-selected segment of people who tend to be in it for the love of the technology and whose core values are aligned with that of the global movement toward decentralization.

It is in speaking to this congregation of entrepreneurs, marketing extraordinaires, principals, thought leaders, and otherwise brilliant technical minds at SF Blockchain Week where the shift was sought to #ChangeTheNarrative.

Members of the Cosmos Network had a part in telling this narrative. And here’s the recap of it.

Epicenter Day 1 — Oct 8

The back-to-back conferences began with Epicenter. The crowd was buzzing with investors, enthusiasts, developers, and all-around generalists. Epicenter started with a panel about the tooling that is still needed for broader adoption of the technology.

The takeaway from this panel was that: while Ethereum may foster the most mature ecosystem of developer tooling, we are still far behind in building the blockchain infrastructure that’s needed to really get meaningful usage and buy-in from the wider software development industry. To cross the chasm, we need to put up the scaffolding and chop the wood and gather the necessary materials to build the bridge first.

Left to right: Charlie Hu (Ultrain), Vincent Li (COVA (Covalent.ai)), Jared Go (Kambria @ www.kambria.io), Prabhaav Bhardwaj (Stealthy), Chjango Unchained (Cosmos/Tendermint)

One of the most asked questions people ask anybody who is working on blockchain interoperability is: Why is this needed?

It’s a similar question people asked computer scientists more than 30 years ago. Back then, the people developing the communications protocols between computers couldn’t ever imagine the advent of social media, Google Maps, or Uber, but what they did envision was realizing the potential value of bridging a web of independent computers to collaborate dynamically so that an incredible flow of information — and cat memes — could happen. And those fundamental building blocks, fast forward 20 years, brought you the Internet.

So what is the value of an Internet of Blockchains? You decide.

“Interoperability is a natural evolution for the blockchain ecosystem.” — Jae Kwon

Left to right: Kevin Davis (Kava), Jae Kwon (Cosmos/Tendermint), Nikil Viswanathan (Alchemy), Joseph Weinberg (Shyft Network), Haseeb Qureshi (Metastable Capital)

Epicenter Day 2 — Oct 9

As we ramp up towards the start of the Game of Stakes, we sat down with some of the validators in the Proof-of-Stake space to learn about how they’ve been preparing for this new paradigm shift we’re about to enter into on the blockchain frontier.

We discussed a variety of topics such as how they choose which chains to validate (all of them were planning on running Cosmos validators!), how they manage delegator relations, and how they collaborate (and compete!) with other validators. The validators shared their stories about how they hardened their infrastructure to be secure against different types of attacks, and gave their perspectives about how the landscape of this new field will shape out over time.

Left to right: Sunny Aggarwal (Cosmos/Tendermint), Zaki Manian (Cosmos/Tendermint), Adrian Brink (Cryptium Labs), Joe Buttram (EON), Tim Oglivie (Staked)

Many developers just getting their feet wet building scalable decentralized apps have a hard time grasping the low-level protocols needed to achieve distributed consensus across a large gossiping network. Cosmos-SDK addresses that pain point and enables blockchain developers to build their own application-specific blockchains using Tendermint’s consensus engine. If you missed the workshop, you’re in luck. Follow the in-depth tutorial yourself.

Cosmos-SDK Core Developer Sunny Aggarwal gives a hands-on workshop to all the developers in the audience about building a module in the Cosmos-SDK.

CESC Day 1 — Oct 10

Following the Epicenter conference was the Crypto-Economic Security Conference (CESC), where the talks were heavily developer-oriented. Naturally, there were fewer yet more technical attendees at CESC.

Cosmos PoS can best be described as Bonded-Proof-of-Stake, or BPoS. This is due to the property of having in-protocol slashing and bonding at the consensus layer, whereby both delegators and validators get penalized for their bonded validator who has demonstrated low uptime or Byzantine behavior. If you missed Sunny Aggarwal’s talk, you can find his slides on GitHub, linked below.

Sunny Aggarwal giving a talk about the bleeding edge cryptoeconomic research being implemented in the Cosmos technology stack.
Left to right: Graham McBain, Jim Waugh, Jameson Detweiler, billy rennekamp (Cosmos/Tendermint), Jaron Lanier (inventor of VR)

CESC Day 2 — Oct 11

Jae Kwon closed out the last day with his talk covering the horizontal scaling architecture that Cosmos proposes.

The key to enabling cross-chain horizontal scaling is having a protocol that securely and trustlessly communicates data across chains. IBC, or Interblockchain Communication, is that communication mechanism.

Jae Kwon, main stage, breaking down the sort of architecture needed for a scalable Internet of Blockchains. Hint: think pegged sidechains with Interblockchain Communication (IBC).

In Closing

If you missed out on this year’s San Francisco Blockchain Week or simply want to rewatch some of the recorded panels and talks, you came to the right place. Keep up with the community of Cosmonauts building cool things by signing up for the Cosmos Hub & Spoke Newsletter.

Naturally, Devcorn made an appearance.

Last Call

Game of Stakes registrations have been extended to October 22.

Over & Out



Tendermint Inc is a software development company that builds software & community for the Cosmos Network.

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Chjango Unchained ⛓️

Translates hard technical concepts into laymen’s terms. Covers DeFi & Web 3.0. Host of Interchain.fm—validatoooor, investoooor & advisoooor for Cosmos ecosystem