The Truth about Blockchain Meetups (and how they can help you)

In the past few weeks I have visited five blockchain themed meetups across the Netherlands. Here, I will share my experiences and explain how blockchain meetups can help you — whether you want to learn more about the basics of blockchains or whether you want to promote your favorite blockchain project.

How to search for blockchain meetups

Blockchain meetups I have attended

10 Nov | Amsterdam | Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies: the Block(chain) is hot!
https://www.facebook.com/events/219127615292987/

13 Nov | Amsterdam | Lecture: Bitcoin and its development
https://www.facebook.com/events/400266397055489/

14 Nov | Utrecht | Decentralisation, Blockchains and more
https://www.meetup.com/BitTopia-Blockchain-Made-Easy/events/244864365/

30 Nov | Haarlem | Open Ochtend — Cryptocurrency
https://www.facebook.com/events/726712380852695/

30 Nov | Amsterdam | BlockchainTalks volume 2
https://www.meetup.com/BlockchainTalks/events/244602735/

Each meetup was organized by a different organization. As far as I could tell, they were all largely independent (in the sense that there was space for a diverse set of views during the event).

Why most blockchain meetups are great for beginners

There are three reasons why meetups are a great place for beginning blockchain enthusiasts:

1. Presentations with different views

Most meetups invite speakers with different views on the topic. This is great if you are starting your blockchain adventure. The meetups I visited all had a balanced line-up and most of the presenters tried to include different viewpoints into their presentation. Meetups that have sponsors tend to be more biased than independent ones.

2. Questions from the audience

Whenever there is time for questions, pay close attention! This is an excellent opportunity to learn how people with a more advanced understanding of blockchains approach the topic. Of course, there are always motives behind a question, and good speakers will be able to react both to the question and to the assumptions behind the question. It’s like Reddit in real life!

3. Discussions during drinks

You know a meetup is well organized if there are (free) drinks available after the meetup. The drinks are a good way to advance your understanding of blockchains. By talking to others and listing to their stories, you obtain tons of new ideas. Most people who come to blockchain meetups cannot talk about their ‘nerd hobby’ in their real life, which is probably why everyone I met so far is very open and happy to share their ideas and opinions.

How I represented the Decred project

Experiences from the field

The second blockchain meetup was also in Amsterdam, but located in a cultural meeting point near the rivaling University of Amsterdam (UvA). The lecture, entitled “Bitcoin and its development” was organized by the student society for international relations. Non-students had to pay a fee of 5 euro. The event was so popular that the line in front of the cashier did not fit inside the building. It is fair to say that 50% of the people did not fit into the building, and as the event sold out shortly after the ticket sale started, most of them waited in vain. During the waiting process I managed to talk to several people about Decred. During the talk, I enlightened the cashiers about why blockchains are such a big deal (as they could not comprehend the huge line). I also waited for participants who left the lecture early, and managed to talk to multiple people about the future of Bitcoin, the governance system of Decred, and the sustainability of cryptocurrencies.

For the third meetup I traveled to Utrecht, where the local Tech Tuesday event was dedicated to “Decentralisation, Blockchains and more”. The ‘more’ in the title referred to biohacking, smart cities, and research on how to sleep better at night. The part about blockchains was more of an open exchange, which was very awesome. The moderator, who goes by the name ev0k3d, is one of those people who represents the ideals behind blockchains (decentralization, freedom, autonomy) instead of only mentioning the financial gains. We had a great group conversation and I distributed Decred cards to all those who attended. After the meetup, I managed to talk to ev0k3d in detail. We agreed to talk more about Decred some other time. A week later, we went for dinner at an excellent hummus bar in Utrecht, where I showed him the details behind the Decred project. He was very impressed!

The fourth meetup was located in a library inside the central train station of Haarlem. Once a month, they organize an open morning with a quick breakfast buffet and an interesting topic. Because it was located inside a train station, we listened to the speaker via headphones. The speaker used an analogy to explain that blockchain technology is much bigger than Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies. He compared it to an electricity grid. You can have many light bulbs, which give different colors of light, but the underlying technology empowering those bulbs is the electricity grid. During the Q&A session, I managed to grab the microphone to make an essential remark: that there are multiple blockchains (and thus multiple electricity grids that all power one or more light bulbs). The speakers looked a bit surprised that I pointed out a flaw in his analogy, but was very thankful for the addition. A small crowd surrounded me after the talk because of this useful insight. We managed to talk about blockchains and Decred, and some of them were already familiar with its innovative hybrid consensus system.

The final November meetup I visited was located in Amsterdam as well. The organization by BlockchainTalks.io was excellent. They picked an awesome location with a marvelous view. They managed to arrange a diverse set of speakers, the turnout was impressive, and the meetup was live-streamed across the globe. The theme of the evening was ICOs and cryptocurrencies. One of the other speakers was ev0k3d, who is now a friend of mine, and he managed to capture the crowd with his presentation about the fundamentals behind blockchains. During the breaks, I met with several people who noticed my Decred shirt. We had great talks about Decred and blockchain governance. Most participants went to a nearby bar after the event ended, and I had the pleasure to talk to more awesome people. Together with the organizing team and another meetup participant, we ended up in a burger bar that served vegetarian burgers. Although I was unimpressed by the veggie burgers, we had good fun and made plans for future meetups.

Conclusion: Go out there, learn more about blockchains, and meet new people!

I ask questions and search for solutions.