How Bitcoin 2021 Redefined The Importance Of In-Person Celebration

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The largest Bitcoin event in history welcomed over 12,000 enthusiasts to celebrate together in real life, proving that this open source decentralized software project is a cultural force to be reckoned with.

This article first appeared in Bitcoin MagazineEl Salvador print edition. To have this portion of your Bitcoin history sent directly to you, sign up now.

There is nothing inherent in Bitcoin that necessitates in-person gatherings. In fact, much of the open source software project’s success can be attributed to the fact that it is digital in origin, decentralized and can be accessed by anyone anywhere in the world connected to the network. Had Satoshi revealed his true identity and bypassed online message boards to interact with real-life contributors, it is very likely that Bitcoin would have failed.

However, there is a yearning within much of the Bitcoin community to meet, share ideas for the project in person, applaud and boo each other, celebrate and emphasize that, yes, there are other real people who love this culture and technology.

Since at least August 2011, when about 50 people gathered at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City for what New York times Called the “world’s first Bitcoin conference”, Bitcoiners do just that. With the bitcoin price at $11, this first event contained a lot of energy and enthusiasm that is still present in bitcoin encounters to this day.

“Hobbyist economists have mixed with software programmers and hardware vendors, who are striving to shrink a slice of the emerging economy,” times I reported from this first recorded conference. “Most of the people out there seemed to be either Bitcoin idealists or Bitcoin beneficiaries. Some of them were both. The true believers in the group form a kind of ideological brotherhood and imagine a world where online sellers make direct financial contacts with their customers. No credit cards, banks, PayPal and their costs. The inevitable add-on No more handing over sensitive private information with every purchase – although account records are public, account holders are virtually anonymous Many bitcoin enthusiasts also dream of replacing the machinations of the Federal Reserve with an inherently predictable network that never print new money.

Those dreams about what Bitcoin could and should become are still very much alive in Bitcoin 2021. And while much remains the same about why Bitcoin attracts the pool in person, this event was unlike any other before. . In many ways, it showed how much progress Bitcoin and its community have made in achieving the goals that have always been central to this project.

“As if Twitter came back to life”

Art encouraging attendees to stop Federal Reserve funding by picking Bitcoin adorns the halls of Bitcoin 2021.

“When the sky turns pink and then black, Bitcoin 2021 splits into cocktail hours, rooftop dinners, boat parties and clubs. I watched colleagues who have worked together via Slack and Zoom for a year meet each other in person for the first time, cuddling… a year later From the solitude, it felt as if Twitter came to life. But we were all there together, and the view was amazing.”

– Erin Griffith, New York timesJune 5, 2021.

For BTC Inc, the organizer of the Bitcoin chain of events and the parent company of Bitcoin Magazine (and the work of this author), there is no doubt that the original digital Bitcoin project required personal events. In fact, from the company’s point of view, Bitcoin has yet to see a live event of the scale demanded by its community.

BTC Inc launched its series of events with Bitcoin 2019, bringing together nearly 2,000 attendees in San Francisco at a 100,000-square-foot venue in June of that year. Edward Snowden spoke about freedom from satellite surveillance, attendees bought beer and played arcade games using the Lightning Network, and hundreds of developers took part in an accompanying hackathon. She emphasized the fact that Bitcoin is a movement, a cultural phenomenon that is more than the sum of its parts (technical, financial, chaotic or whatever). It laid the groundwork for a greater recurrence in 2020, but then COVID-19 happened.

The successor to Bitcoin 2019 was originally scheduled to take place in San Francisco from March 27-28, 2020. As the spread of COVID-19 prompted social distancing mandates and forced live events to be canceled, postponed or pivoted to virtual attendance, BTC Inc moved the event to the next quarter. third of the year. When it then became clear that California would be one of the states least hospitable to live events in the country, the BTC Inc team found a new home for the largest Bitcoin rally in history in Miami, and rescheduled the event from June 4-5, 2021.

Bitcoin 2021 sold out instantly, bringing more than 12,000 participants to a six-acre campus in Miami’s vibrant Wynwood neighborhood. There were many who fit in with the 2011 Bitcoin event, and many others who just know they love Bitcoin. The majority of attendees were white and male, but anecdotal notes indicated that the diversity of such events is increasing, buoyed in part by the atmosphere of the Free Bitcoin Festival 2021.

CNBC reported that “the audience’s outlook was mixed”. “Column images like neon fanny packs, Bitcoin 2021 branded sunglasses, and T-shirts with puns and coded hashtags. Some seemed ready for the summer season.”

Legendary skater Tony Hawk spoke at Bitcoin 2021, then rips half a pipe outside.

The list of speakers included Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, professional skater Tony Hawk, US Senator Cynthia Loomis, MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor, crypto pioneer Nick Szabo, former US Congressman Ron Paul and dozens of others. There were DJs, bars, food carts, a basketball court, a trash can full of overinflated Fiat bills, plus actual trash, sumo wrestling shows, a game stage, an art gallery, and a half-pipe.

The main impetus for the event – eliminating financial services intermediaries and replacing central banks – was the same as the first Bitcoin conference, but Bitcoin 2021 proves that BTC is a cultural force to be reckoned with, and not just a niche technical phenomenon. Particularly after a year of forced quarantine, it was clear that bitcoin customers did not want to interact exclusively with each other and with their favorite technology through a computer. They want to celebrate.

“Well, what should be discussed?”

Michael Saylor, CEO of MicroStrategy, and Max Keizer, episode director of Orange Pill, took the stage for a keynote speech.

“Well, what should be discussed?” asks the policeman. raises a skeptical brow. I mean, you either have bitcoin or you don’t. right?’ As it turns out, Bitcoin provides a seemingly endless supply of material to give, and a large group of attendees are eager to give.”

– Zoe Bernard, rolling rockJuly 13, 2021.

In the two years that have passed between Bitcoin 2019 and Bitcoin 2021, it has been clear to Bitcoin customers at least that there is a lot to give. The Bitcoin protocol was experiencing a new form of soft fork as miners signaled their support for the Taproot upgrade. Software intelligence firm MicroStrategy of Saylor has embarked on the most aggressive speculative attack on the dollar ever. Bitcoin price reached an all-time high of more than $64,000.

There were company announcements and platform demos, high-profile Bitcoin clients shared their views, and any number of satellite events continued with extensive attendee chats after hours.

“For me, Bitcoin completely changed everything,” Dorsey said during his conversation at the event, before being teased by political activist Laura Lomer about what she sees as censorship of Twitter speech. “What he is most drawn to is ethics, and what it stands for… all I can do, all my companies can do [Bitcoin] Within everyone’s reach, that’s what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.”

Then Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, took over the Bitcoin 2021 stage.

Later, a recorded message of bitcoins from Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, who was speaking publicly for the first time since his 2013 arrest, was played to the audience.

“I have spent the past eight years watching Bitcoin grow from here,” said Ulbricht of a high-security federal prison in Arizona. “I’ve seen incredible innovation. I’ve seen inspiring courage. We didn’t know how Bitcoin would turn out at first, but over the years, I’ve been constantly impressed by what it has accomplished… We are transforming the global economy. We have brought the taste of freedom and equality to far reaches the scientist “.

And in the most relevant legislative announcement in Bitcoin history, El Salvador President Neb Bukele announced in a video message that was shown exclusively to the Bitcoin 2021 audience that his country will recognize Bitcoin as legal tender.

“More than 70% of the active population in El Salvador does not have a bank account. They are not in the financial system,” said Jack Mallers, CEO of Lightning Network Platform Strike, which paved the way for the Bukele announcement.[The government of El Salvador] They asked me to help write a plan and that they view Bitcoin as a global currency and that we need to come up with a Bitcoin plan to help these people.”

Mallers’ show brought tears to many audience members. As Bukele’s video statement went live, the president announced, “Next week, I will be sending Congress a bill that would make bitcoin legal tender.”

The audience erupted in a standing ovation. The rest of the president’s video message has disappeared. At that groundbreaking moment, nothing else mattered.

“Wait until they find out how far we are willing to go to support the cause.”

The godfather of modern liberalism, Ron Paul, made opening remarks at Bitcoin 2021.

“Journalists and cryptocurrency holders gleefully grumbled over the few people who contracted the COVID virus during the massive Bitcoin conference. Nobody mentioned that Bitcoiners were willing to risk their lives to attend a conference. Wait until they find out how far we are willing to go to support the cause.”

– Jameson Loeb, TwitterJune 11, 2021.

Bitcoin 2021 has received a lot of mainstream attention for a number of reasons, not least because it was the largest real Bitcoin community rally in history, at a time when Bitcoin is starting to gain more mainstream news attention in general.

But it was also notable as one of the first major in-person gatherings as the initial COVID-19 lockdown eased. The Bitcoin community attracts many people who oppose restrictions and mistrust the authorities, and it seems appropriate that this event offers an exemption from the mandatory quarantine. The timing also provided an opportunity for the Bitcoin community to demonstrate why getting together in real life is essential to their support of this software project.

“This may sound exaggerated, but it’s like, ‘When the American Revolution began, yellow fever abounded. “We didn’t cancel the American Revolution because of a little yellow fever,” said David Bailey, CEO of BTC Inc rolling rock When asked about hosting one of the largest gatherings in the United States since the start of the pandemic. “So we set the tone that if you attend this conference, you may die. And that’s who.”

A large crowd of people came to the conference, despite (or perhaps because of) that tone. They felt it necessary to gather in person and celebrate a revolutionary technology, one whose primary dream had always been to do away with credit cards and replace the machinations of the Federal Reserve. In many cases, they traveled from places that would not host such a gathering due to the potential health risks of going to a place that might host it.

Through dozens of onstage presentations, hundreds of activations, thousands of toasts and countless personal contacts, they have demonstrated that in-person Bitcoin pools are sorely needed. Not to keep the network running but to keep its community vibrant.

As of this writing, the series of events with Bitcoin 2022 is scheduled to run from April 6 to April 9, 2022, at the Miami Beach Convention Center, with 35,000 people expected to attend. There is no way to know what Bitcoin customers will celebrate by then. But the point is, they will celebrate together.

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