Reflections from the ETH Circuit

A recap of the past month of Ethereum events

Perhaps one of the most novel aspects of the Ethereum community is the myriad of events taking place on a global scale.

From hackathons to niche conferences and community meetups, many have come to dub the suite of events the “Ethereum Circuit” - all of which have been going on for years on end.

This past month, I was lucky enough to navigate the circuit, attending events in Denver, London, and Paris for three jam-packed weeks of innovation and research.

In this week’s article, we’ll reflect on the trends that were discovered from these travels, along with a quick thought piece on why participating in these events has more value than what meets the eyes.


ETHDenver

Taking place over the course of Valentine’s weekend, many have come to note that ETHDenver serves as one of the strongest, most exhilarating hackathons to take place. With nearly 1,000 attendees coming together for 48 hours of development, there was certainly no shortage of innovation on what was being built.

https://medium.com/ethdenver/all-of-the-ethdenver-2020-project-submissions-a29124035332

Throughout the weekend, the most discussed topics included DAOs and Flash Loans, the latter of which was notoriously brought to center stage from the recent bZx attacks.

Beyond the headline news, some of the more creative submissions included:

  • Bound - A Patreon-like product for artists to provide exclusive content using a tokenized bonding curve

  • Flowerpots - A Github-based widget to allow for Ethereum-based tips

  • UpsideDai - 20x leverage on the volatility of Dai

  • DaiKittyDai - Wrapping CryptoKitties to earn a pooled prize

ETHLondon

Just two weeks after ETHDenver, the ETHGlobal tour continued with a smaller, more intimate hackathon in London. What lacked in quantity was certainly made up for in quality as roughly 50 submissions all packed an awesome punch.

During ETHLondon, the most discussed topics included Interest-Derivatives and Privacy, with a special shoutout to NFTs of course, CoronaVirus.

Thanks to the leading sponsors from Aave, Aztec and a suite of UI/UX prizes from companies like Dapp Hero and Pepo, many of the winning submissions tied together a number of these ideas to display creative consumer-facing products.

Some noteworthy submissions included:

  • Daj - collect future interest now by locking collateral until maturity

  • GoodGhosting - Interest-earning game to incentivize saving between friends

  • LoanShark - Lease an NFT for a predefined period of time

  • zkDai + Sablier - Stream private money through an intuitive interface.

NFTNYC

Although I wasn’t able to attend, many colleagues stopped through New York for a special conference dedicated to all things NFT.

I’d like to give a shoutout to Michael Arnold from MyCryptoHeros for putting together a fantastic recap on his takeaways from the event.

ETHCC

Unlike the two hackathons mentioned above, ETHCC was centered around emerging trends in the industry, with talks on everything from community development to DeFi, DAOs, ETH2 and more.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_kOxlaYNOTtNwtwySZ0B8w/videos

Based in the heart of Paris, it was refreshing to see such a strong turnout despite the constant headline news about the danger of CoronaVirus.

Unique to the event was a game called Trust Community, in which attendees were rewarded with Nectar tokens for connecting and endorsing other conference goers. What was unique about this game is that rewards were dynamic - meaning the amount of NEC received per connection varied relative to how many people were connecting around you. In short, the less frequent connections being made, the more NEC was received.

The game was a huge success, with top players earning roughly ~$1500 worth of NEC for connecting with 100+ other attendees.

Beyond the networking activities, top trends including the emergence of Metaverse-based games like Sandbox and Crypto Voxels, different ways of incentivizing governance and drawing a spectrum for developer responsibilities/obligations when deploying smart contracts to mainnet.

Perhaps the most obvious example of this is that of iEarn.Finance in which the lead developer, Andre, was brutally criticised when the system was exploited despite the fact that Andre has intended for the product to be “only for him”.



During a number of panels, there were avid discussions on the difference between a passion project and a tangible product/company - all of which challenged the notion of whether or not the creator’s should be at fault if more people flock to a contract than what was originally intended.

Similarly, I was able to learn about the intentional segmentation between Reddits’ r/ethereum and r/ethtrader which have come to be regarded by many as the best decision the Ethereum Foundation ever made for driving forward conversations in a more controlled environment.

The Power of the Circuit

In summary, there’s something special to be said for being on the ground floor of these events. It’s evident that valuable information commonly spreads from the source, and many of the trends discussed at these events have subsequently taken on a life of their own on social media.



Beyond the access to timely information, IRL interactions tend to drive more creative discussions than those that happen online. My biggest takeaway from the circuit was that while it was extremely beneficial for meeting new people and making stronger relationships, it’s very important to find a healthy balance between travel and solitude.

Towards the end of ETHCC, there was a common theme of relief as everyone geared up to head back to their base and build upon the ideas which had been incubated in the previous week(s).

Looking Forward

While many are skeptical of the circuit continuing this May in New York, it’s likely that a suite of virtual events will take its place.

In the short term, MetaCartel will be hosting its first virtual hackathon, the Dragon Quest, which will offer bounties, workshops and tutorials on a suite of emerging sectors.

In the meantime, I strongly encourage anyone interested in Ethereum to be on the lookout for hackathons and meetups hitting a city near you - as the enthusiasm and innovation is quite contagious.

Similarly, keep an eye out for Proof of Attendance Protocol NFTs as they’re a great way to keep track of your travels through unique badges for every notable Ethereum event you attend!

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of these events is that I can count on one hand the number of times the price of Ether was mentioned - despite the fact that all that was being discussed was Ethereum 24/7.

If anything, this goes to show that the industry at large is maturing, and with all the innovation described above, it won't be long until we find a framework that resonates with a much larger audience.