Rice's Business of the Blockchain Conference

This week I had the pleasure of attending the Rice “Business and the Blockchain” conference in Houston, TX.  It isn’t every day that we get a blockchain conference in Houston and it was really nice to get to see my kids and go to a conference in the same week for once.

I had two main agenda items at this conference:

Promote my new blockchain book “Immortality:  A moral and economic framework toward immortality” (more: http://catallax.info/news/2017/4/23/my-new-book-is-out-and-it-is-called-immortality).
Get caught up on the advances that ethereum has made in the couple of years that I’ve been distracted with my day job.

The first item went pretty well. I handed out a lot of cards.  I can now say that I won’t get skunked on my book sales.  I don’t think I’ll be on the New York Times bestseller list anytime soon, but what can you expect from a book on moral philosophy, economics, and a pie in the sky proposal for new money. I’m looking forward to getting feedback from those of you that bought a copy.

The second item was a success as well.  Of particular promise were the concepts of state channels and the many tools that ConsenSys are building to address real problems with the Ethereum blockchain.  Specifically, Infura and Uport look like they may have some specific applications to what I want to do with Catallax immediately.  Infura provides a number of support functions in the way that Gem does for BTC and Uport looks like it may be a great tool for collecting KYC data for banks that may operate on the Catallax system.

Overall the conference was run really well.  Everyone was well fed and the breakout session system for Q&A worked really well except when they would cluster 4 really great speakers together where I wanted to go to all 4 Q&As and then follow it up with 4 speakers that had less relevance for me.

A few action items came out of the meeting that have specific relevance for the next steps of Catallax and, specifically, the Catallax Card:

Start writing some contracts.  They don’t have to be perfect, but until the something is on paper I’m not going to be able to just learn by osmosis.
Research payment options.  Apparently, there are some new players in the payment space that may make issuing a card much more of a feasibility than it was before.
Review Contract Patterns.  The concept of an ERC20 token was thrown around quite a bit and I now know what that is.  Many folks are publishing their contracts (Augur has a set of 37 of them in their latest offering) and there is a lot to learn about the patterns being used.  If I have any insights I’ll publish them here.

I was less interested in many of the enterprise level integrations and my feeling is still that a good old database is sufficient for all but the most nefarious of consortia.  Blockchain is a great buzz word and if you can use it to sell some software to fortune 500 companies then more power to you.  Perhaps as I dig a little deeper I’ll see more relevance to the enterprise world.

If they run it again next year I’ll be back.  Hopefully next year we will be presenting Catallax as the next significant blockchain innovation.