Bristol Blockercon 2018

Bristol (UK) is positioning itself to be the go-to tech hub outside of London and companies are heading there, drawn in part by the lower cost of living with a direct line into London. Crypto and Blockchain feature big and this is the first Blockchain conference of size in the city. It drew, I’m guessing, at least 200 participants and some good talks.

It wasn’t a developers conference as such (that happens next year, BlockerDev), but a chance for those interested in the ideas and opportunities of blockchains and crypto to get together and share. It was a good chance to talk to folks who are trying to bring projects to fruition and ask what problems they may have had. And more importantly (to me anyway), why they’ve chosen to use a blockchain system rather than a more standard backend with MariaDB or MySQL. But more on that later.

The conference keynote was from Sascha Ragtschaa from Chainium, a company who aim to “reinvent the equity market”. I have a particular interest in them as I feel they are one of the few companies who understand why blockchains are useful and important. They are also creating a dual blockchain, a concept which I am very curious to see how it will work out.

Other talks were by reps from DOVU, R_Block, Yoti, MOO, blackbox.ai, lemmingchains, Kabuni and Clearmatics. On the whole… I can’t see an overwhelming reason for most of these companies to be building on a blockchain. Some, like DOVU, want to create a token that can be used as a reward system and this is a reasonable approach but I’m not convinced. Apart from the added complexity of bolting your app on to a blockchain, it is also necessary to hide that complexity from the users. Time will tell if that will work out.

Others, and I won’t put names to them, seem to encompass blockchains (and tokens) to raise money. When I asked one investor there why he thought the businesses were using blockchains, he had one word: “moneygrab”. (Well, maybe it’s two words).

Some of the more interesting talks for me were Anjalee Burr from rise.vision who are developing a platform (ecosystem) for DAPPs on DPoS blockchains. It caught my eye because it is making use of Typescript for it’s codebase, which is unusual. If you are looking to develop dapps then these libraries are definitely worth looking at.

Another talk from Ali Azam of R_Block gave a very good overview of how blockchains and cryptocurrencies work.

The day before the Blockercon conference there was also a smaller conference called SavedByTech which was not specific to blockchain businesses, but businesses that are trying to change the world for the better. The Future Technology Conference. Lots of interesting stuff here: Indra Den Bakker from 20tree.ai on using AI and satellite imagery to track and protect the worlds forests, Ben Scott-Robinson from Small Robot Company with a fascinating look in to improving farming and food production and Erica Sundberg from Thor Weather Systems on the importance of weather reports for most of the worlds poor.

Next year there will be another Blockercon as well as a day of developer info at Blockerdev, on the 6th/7th June 2019. But if you visit the website, be aware that it is just a copy of the current years conferences. Coming later :)