Really cool, thank you very much.
Justin's Local Meetup Talks Proposal #3
Hello everyone! One last FFS proposal from me this summer, and I hope to make it the best!
To those who are unaware, I have spent the past six months traveling around Europe and giving talks about Monero to local communities. You can see an overview of the cities that I visited on the map below. Orange ones were included in proposal #1, green ones in proposal #2, and purple ones in this proposal #3.
I want to take this opportunity to reflect on several things that I have learned along the way.
Who I Am
I am Justin Ehrenhofer, a student entering my third year at the University of Minnesota. I spent the semester studying in Vienna, Austria. My username on Reddit is SamsungGalaxyPlayer, and you may see me as sgp or sgp_ on Slack/IRC. I am a co-president of the student cryptocurrency club at the University of Minnesota, a group where we work to promote acceptance, advocacy, and community. Our group has gone from being nonexistent at the start of 2016 to being the largest of its kind in the Midwest today. I talk about many different cryptocurrencies (especially Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum) with the group, though I spend most of my free time studying and contributing to Monero.
I authored the community response to the linkability paper, and I have worked with other longtime community members to hold biweekly Monero Community meetings. We hope to provide the resources needed for the Monero community to expand with a grassroots movement. I was featured on the Monero Monitor podcast.
Summary of Events
Valencia, Spain on 15 March. This is the first talk that I gave, and it was a great, er, learning experience. I contacted the local group though every means I could find, and they set up a space during the fallas festival. I unfortunately answered some basic questions incorrectly following the presentation, so I followed up with them after the meeting to correct these mistakes. You can view the recording of the event here. Overall, it was a great trial run and learning experience. I have not asked the community to reimburse these travel costs.
Graz, Austria on 27 March. I felt much more comfortable speaking at this event. I contacted the local Vienna Bitcoin meetup, and they referred me to this Graz meetup so that I could speak at an earlier date. You can view a recording of the event here. The travel costs were reimbursed by the BlockchainHub Graz community.
Warsaw, Poland on 11 April. This was my first of three presentations in three cities in three days. This meeting also included talks regarding Dash and Ethereum. You can view a recording of the event here (I start at 58:36). I feel that this is one of my best presentations.
Riga, Latvia on 12 April. This was a slightly less formal presentation with a whiteboard instead of a PowerPoint.
Vienna, Austria on 11 May. This was a joint meetup with the local Dogecoin and Ethereum meetups.
Rome, Italy on 27 May. I would like to thank the organizer for giving me a Slack invite to the Blockchain Education Network, something I had been trying to get for a long time.
Bucharest, Romania on 15 June. This was a less formal meeting, where I simply spoke with the local group members about Monero.
Istanbul, Turkey on 18 June. Ajs helped set this meeting up, though unfortunately it had a smaller group attend than expected. I noticed that the Istanbul Metro logo looks like the Monero logo. Marketing opportunity?
Dublin, Ireland on 26 June. I intended to have a Meetup a few days earlier in Edinburgh, UK, but it fell through. Unlike most events, I planned this one myself, including the marketing and logistics. We met in a private section of a bar, and I simply spoke about Monero for about twenty minutes. I was able to meet longtime Monero community member John Alan here.
Barcelona, Spain on 10 July. Unfortunately, this event was only announced 1-2 days early because of logistics issues, but the turnout was strong nevertheless.
Copenhagen, Denmark on 13 July. The organizer owned the venue, and it included a projector. Turnout was great, and I spoke with people for hours after the event.
Helsinki, Finland on 18 July. This was at the local Bitcoin Helsinki Embassy.
How Did You Do It?
I have previously spoken at my local Cryptocurrency Club, and I felt like speaking was the best way for me to contribute to the Monero community. To secure a meeting, my job boiled down to blind messaging people and trying to convince them in the original message that I am not a scammer. My first message to people typically went something like this:
Hello [GROUP NAME]!
I'm Justin from the United States, and I'm studying in Vienna for the semester. I am visiting [CITY] later this summer, and I was wondering if you would like a representative to speak about the cryptocurrency Monero at one of your meetings.
While I have no official connection to the project, I have been heavily involved for over 2 years and would love to talk with your members about the project.
I have previously spoken about Monero at my home university, and I spoke about Monero at over 10 other meetups around Europe. I worked with Riccardo (fluffypony) Spagni, the Monero core maintainer, for some of these meetings. I will be in [CITY] on the evenings of [DATE] and [DATE]. Unfortunately, I cannot speak [LOCAL LANGUAGE] well, so the presentation will be in English if that is okay.
The meeting will cover the history of privacy and fungibility in Bitcoin, discuss several approaches to the problems, and discuss how Monero achieves its privacy in detail. I will discuss the next steps in development going forward and limitations compared to other coins.
Let me know if this is something you are interested in!
Most the time, I received positive responses. After people expressed interest, I would organize the trip. The local coordinators planned the venue most of the time.
I believe that I explained the basics of Monero to people in a way that those familiar with Bitcoin could understand. It is hard to say how much people who were learning about cryptocurrencies for the first time got out of it, but some people after the meeting fitting this criterion said they understood the broad ideas. I have included my presentations later in this document, including one annotated version for a more novice audience.
I feel that I could answer most questions thoroughly or refer people to further information. These are the top five questions I answered:
- How does Monero compare to Dash/Zcash/PIVX/CloakCoin/etc?
- What is Monero’s coin supply and mining algorithm?
- How do you see government regulation impacting Monero?
- How does Monero pay for development, and how does Monero reach consensus?
- How can I acquire and spend Monero?
As I became more comfortable speaking about Monero, I spent more time trying to tell a story. I spoke of the previous decentralized networks, including as Tor, I2P, and Freenet. All of these use decentralization to eliminate (or substantially mitigate) the need for trust, which is important for private systems. Monero is a truly trustless, private system. I found telling a story before going into the technical to be very compelling.
What Didn’t Work
It is difficult to plan so many events while attending school full-time, so there were bound to be issues. I wanted to grab a recording of every meetup for documentation, but this unfortunately did not happen all the time. I wish all events could have been announced a month in advance, but they often were announced only a week or even days before. In the case of Edinburgh, UK, I was unable to hold an event at all.
The technical nature of the talk made it difficult for many people to understand what I discussed. An annotated presentation for a novice is included later, which I hope can help those who are getting into cryptocurrencies for the first time. I noticed that the proportion of new users increased significantly over the year.
Typically, language barriers were not an issue. However, I had to speak more slowly in Valencia, and I decided not to give a talk in Paris because most meetup groups hold their meetings in French. I would like to work with the rest of the community to get the basic introductory Monero presentations translated in other languages, so that potential users have a resource available to them.
I should have printed business cards. It would have made staying in contact much simpler.
Finally, it is difficult to measure the actual impact of these talks. Did my talks attract more contributors to the project? Are these people keeping an eye on Monero now? It’s hard to say. I think that these local groups have the foundations built on Monero knowledge, and I hope that as Monero grows, these communities can build on their interest of Monero and grow.
All of my presentations can be found on my GitHub page. In this folder, I have included PDF versions of the presentations given at each of the cities. It also includes an annotated Monero presentation for a novice. Please feel free to use them to present in other local groups. If you need PowerPoint versions of any of these other ones, please let me know. Please give me feedback on these, and I can update them to better meet the needs of new members.
FFS Proposal Amount
Finally, back to the FFS proposal part. The cost of me speaking in certain cities is listed below:
- Barcelona, Spain: $245
- Brussels, Belgium: $345
- Copenhagen, Denmark: $550
- Helsinki, Finland: $255
- Stockholm, Sweden: $300
- Oslo, Norway: $360
Grand Total: $2,055. Asking for 23 XMR.
This European tour was an amazing opportunity for me, and it will likely go down as one of the best parts of my life. I am forever grateful to those who made the previous two proposals possible, to those who plan on contributing to this proposal, to all those who attended the Meetups, and to the Meetup organizers for helping me set up these events. I am even more grateful that I could speak about something I truly believe in.