What the EFF is ETHDenver?

4 minute read

Last month I had the great (GREAT) pleasure of attending the world’s largest Blockchain Hackathon ever, in Denver Colorado: ETHDenver.

This was the second ever official Ethereum hackathon, following the ETHWaterloo hackathon that took place in Toronto Ontario late last year. During the event in Denver they also announced the formation of ETH Global, which will be organizing and rolling out similar events around the world.

Aside from 5-6 floors of hackerspace, there were chill rooms with huge beanbag chairs and a DJ, amazing food trucks outside the front door that accepted the free ‘Colorado Coin’ payment chips attendees received, ice cold kegs of local made Kombucha, endless crates of natural energy drinks, radical conversations left and right, multiple presentation stages where people actually changed my brain, blockchain themed art rooms, and whatever else you would picture in a punk rock decentralized future rebel hub.

What’s the goal?

ETHDenver encouraged Ethereum developers and blockchain minds from across them globe to come together, and take part in a 36-hour hackathon to birth new projects and ideas, and try to build toward supporting the Ethereum ecosystem into a scalable future.

Aside from the hacking, there were also workshops and speakers from the largest projects in the blockchain space, and booths setup where you could meet team members from Shapeshift, Aragon, 0x, Storj, PolyMath, Dharma, MakerDAO, and so many more. Aside from awesome clothing and sticker swag, the booths were an incredible opportunity to shoot the breeze with top minds working on top decentralized projects.

After opening ceremonies Friday, the bell rang - and off went the hackers, on an energy-drink filled bonanza racing to Sunday morning.

Who was there? Why was I there?

The application page for ETHDenver stressed many times in bold letters that this was not in fact just for developers, and that all were welcome to take part either in the conference aspects or in joining a hacker team for the weekend and offering their diverse expertise.

I was very lucky in attending with the BlockCrushr Labs founders Scott Burke and Andrew Redden, and joining their hack team - alongside Elliott Bernstein, an ace developer from San Francisco.

Over the course of the weekend a new hack was born from the BlockCrushr team, a powerful crypto wallet with recurring payment capabilities - GroundHog. (Bonus points if you figure the recurring payments angle to where the project got its name.)

Different from being a ‘just for fun’ hack, GroundHog was based on addressing real needs in our projects and in the blockchain commerce ecosystem. The hack is no joke, and has rocketed into being a going concern - taking lots of attention, and garnering interest from investors and future users alike!

What was is all about?

The best way to comment on the overall aim of the event, is to describe what it WASN’T about. Not once did anyone reference the price of any crypto asset, the movement in the markets, or the wealth being lost of created. This was about building and innovating, not about holding and speculatively watching.

While not a direct message or named exclusion, I noted that not once in the many presentations, pitches or conversations I took in did I hear a single mention of the world of Mining. Could simply have been a circumstance of the circles I was in at various times, or it could also be a symptom of Ethereum moving toward a Proof of Stake (PoS) method of network verification and reward, rather than the Proof of Work (PoW) world that mining today supports.

Either way, you get an idea that despite the many backgrounds and expertise that were present, the weekend very much had a forward looking, deep dive tech kind of feel - where people escaped their specific work focus and looked to the broader ecosystem’s future.

The ETH community is not one to be taken lightly, and although there was never an ill word spoken of any other crypto company / project / or community - the devotion of all these brilliant minds supporting Ethereum solutions, certainly speaks ironclad of the future of the movement.

Closing highlights?

No, Vitalik “the unicorn” was not there - but his dad sure was, looking all jacked in his pink ETH Denver shirt. His L4V and MakerDAO announced over the weekend partnering on the new Stable Fund to support projects incorporating Maker’s DAI stable coin.

It was so invigorating and refreshing to hear founders of the top flight projects in all of blockchain technology take the stage and discuss the crumbling of our current financial system. The unsustainable foundations it is built upon, and how it is due for a replacement by the emerging tools of the blockchain world. These are the kind of thoughts and visioning that happen in my mind on a daily basis, but they certainly can start to feel radical and unattainable if you work inside a bubble.

Inclusion … not once, even when speaking to core development teams of genius dApps, did I feel lorded over or spoken down to for not being a full stack blockchain developer. The spirit of solution finding and diversification trumped all.

Denver is beautiful! Not that I’ve heard anyone say otherwise in my life, but I had also never heard anyone rave about it as being a destination to see. The people, the sites, the weather, everything about Denver was welcoming, accessible, and enjoyable. Love to go back soon.

Ethereum is no currency, fool. It’s a movement, and a world computing foundation from which to build and support many, many distributed ledger type decentralized applications and projects.

Be empowered to do your thing. There I met so many people rocking ideas for DAO’s, coop community frameworks, stable coin collateralization models, social impact and supply chain empowering hacks - that finding a space to work on your own jam is something you just MUST make time for. The community wants and needs it, and be honest - there’s nothing cooler than digging deep into that little jam, you wanna jam on, like only you can jam on.

Thanks for reading, I really hope to take in more of these events as they rollout - and would without hesitation encourage anyone who has the opportunity to do the same to do so