Beyond partisan politics in distributed systems

Devcon4 was a blast- at least, the bits I was well enough to attend. I've been fighting a pretty serious illness for some months (ticks are the worst), but my housemate has a diagnosis now so hopefully the end is in sight for me. It was less about attending the conference and more about catching up and swapping notes with people, anyway. I stayed with the Circles UBI team (who are all amazing) and managed to bump in to Frankie from MetaMask & the Scuttleverse again, and meet some members of the 'Dark Crystal' team (which is a super exciting project- stay tuned!)

I also managed to catch up with Vinay Gupta in the corridor after Stewart Brand's talk and had a nice little chat with him. It was really quite delightful and it seemed like we both got a lot out of it. Turns out we're all a lot more reasonable in real life... who knew? :p (more)

Breaking through the blockchain echo-chamber: what I learned from arguing with visionaries on the internet

It's been a harrowing and lengthy internal debate for me trying to decide whether to publish this post. On the one hand, I've annoyed somebody very influential and this is likely to be seen as "poking the bear". Or it could be viewed as the plaintive whining of a someone with a fragile emotional constitution. It might not be a great career move.

On the other hand, it's clear to me that something is very wrong with how things unfolded. There are aspects of power imbalance, racism, privilege, suppression and misinformation at play here. It's not ok. The world should not be like this. Innovators should be supporting innovation, not stifling it.

It's been said before that blockchain is a 1% conversation, but in my experience the percentage is even smaller. There are a lot of hidden interests in the space— particularly people with huge financial investments and a lot to lose who don't take kindly to being challenged on their versions of progress. Not even by those who travel in their circles. If I am being attacked and silenced - as a white male software engineer - then what hope is there for anyone in a marginalised group to be heard?

Maybe all that writing this will achieve is that I look a bit silly, make an enemy and my life gets slightly more difficult. Maybe I've already made an enemy and writing this will make no difference at all. Who knows. I'm sure all of us involved are already more than a little ashamed of some of the things we said. I can only hope the overall outcomes of this piece will be constructive rather than destructive.

Because in the end, I have to go with "fuck it". This article isn't for that person. When I sit back and ask myself, "why did it matter so much", there's only one way to go with this. This article is for others with big ideas and small voices who would let themselves be pushed out of the debate. So I'll try to leave emotion and names out of it, and discuss what happened in the abstract. These themes affect all of us. It's important. (more)