This is an opinion editorial by Marek Feder, the editor in chief of Investro and a Bitcoin journalist who recently attended the BTC Prague event.
Let’s start with a disclaimer: I am not associated with the organizers of BTC Prague in any way, so in this article, I only provide my personal experience and views as an attendee. And one more disclaimer: I have not been to many Bitcoin conferences, so my takes and impressions from BTC Prague might be old news for some of you. However, I do believe that it was the first “huge” Bitcoin conference not only for myself, but also for countless others from Central Europe, so it might be nice to sum up the whole experience.
A Conference Literally For Anyone
The fact that the cheapest ticket to BTC Prague was only 9 euro (about $11) means that this conference was literally for anyone. There were obviously some limitations to this access, but the cheapest ticket got people to the exposition area as well as to two stages, which was definitely well worth it. This was probably one of the nicest touches by the organizers, as they made this conference available for masses, even outside of Bitcoin.
This was further enhanced by the fact that the programming on the “Czech Stage” was entirely about Bitcoin basics. It contained talks about what money is; introductions to Bitcoin, privacy and self-custody; explanation of the differences between Bitcoin and Ethereum; and much more.
For two days, newcomers to the Bitcoin world could have listened to some of Bitcoin’s finest from the Czech Republic and Slovakia and receive educations equal to those gained from studying for hundreds of hours. I believe this highlights the importance of in-person conferences and affordable events that can help with orange pilling the mainstream.
Industry Day Rulez!
While the main conference presented on the Czech Stage and programming for Bitcoin beginners took part on June 9 and June 10, the industry day content focused on businesses started on June 8, and I believe this was the best day for making connections and new friends.
First of all, during the day, there were “only” two stages with talks and keynotes (the Czech Stage was not open at that time), meaning that there was less of an official program. This allowed people to spend more time in the well-thought-out and inspiring exposition area, where they could find dozens and dozens of companies and Bitcoin organizations. With more than 70 stalls and booths, attendees had a chance to talk to mining businesses, wallet providers, Bitcoin book shops, education organizations and countless other Bitcoin-related businesses.
And since the expo area was not as crowded on industry day, it provided the best chance for attendees to have in-depth conversations with all of the attending businesses. Having spent much of the first day in the expo area, I was really surprised by not only the openness and friendliness of all the participants, but also their willingness to have very thorough and informative discussions with anyone who was willing to listen and ask questions.
A Top-Notch Program
Michael Saylor, Adam Back, Eric Weiss, Giacomo Zucco, Stephan Livera, Marek “Slush” Palatinus, Ben Perrin, Peter McCormack, Rockstar Dev and many, many others spoke at the event. The BTC Prague conference had an incredible lineup with Bitcoin experts, developers, entrepreneurs, influencers and business people flying from literally all across the globe. The keynotes, discussion panels and talks were incredible.
As of this writing, the recordings for only two of the on-stage presentations have been released on the official YouTube channel. However, both of them are well worth a watch. Saylor’s “The Future Of Bitcoin” and Zucco’s “Ordinals Are Retarded,” for instance, filled the main hall to the last seat as people listened to these inspiring and educational keynotes. I highly recommend watching both of them.
The talks also included some interesting announcements from the speakers, but detailing what was announced would probably take up a whole article alone. Nevertheless, the announcements by Vexl Foundation, AmityAge, Fedimint and Aleks Svetski are worth looking into in particular
A Plethora Of Fascinating Side Events
Before the conference, some of my Bitcoin friends had mentioned that the most important parts would be the expo area and side events. As weird as that may sound, I now understand why they felt that way. While I was not able to personally attend all of the side events, I heard only the best feedback and opinions about the likes of “dev/hack/day,” a Nostr meetup and other events.
If the attendees really wanted to enjoy the talks and keynotes, and thus did not spend a lot of time in the expo area, the side events were an ideal chance for talking to people in a less formal way. From my observation, the vast majority of the employees from the conference stalls and booths were out and meeting with people even during the side events, giving the attendees a chance to talk with them in a more relaxed manner. Often, this was accompanied by a pint of renowned Czech beer at a restaurant serving homemade specialties of the local cuisine, making it even more pleasant.
Room For Improvement
Well, there is not much that I would have changed or that I believe is necessary to improve to make this event even more spectacular. However, one minor improvement might have led to even more satisfaction from attendees, yet, it was not related to the program, speakers or booths:
The food trucks were a source of friction that might be improved in the next event. At times, extremely long queues meant that people were waiting for their food for way longer than they should have, which could cost them precious time in such a tightly-packed conference schedule.
Additionally, while Lightning Network payments were available in all of the possible food court areas, with the exception of common areas of the hall, where I assume it was just not possible to accept Lightning payments, the food trucks often battled with this payment option.
I witnessed several problems with accepting Lightning as a payment method for food or drinks myself. Whether that was due to internet connection, problems with the operations of point-of-sale devices or mobile wallets, or just the pure frown on the face of a food vendor who was obviously tired of yet another “Bitcoin freak” paying with this internet money, the whole payment-in-Lightning experience could have been improved.
Obviously, this was not a big deal and I can hardly imagine a conference of this size being completely without flaws. And it should be noted that Lightning payments were available, if the vendors and buyers showed a bit of patience.
All in all, this was not critical to the overall feeling and outcome of the conference, but should the organizers strive for improvement for the next year, I would probably start here.
Will You Attend BTC Prague 2024?
And, speaking of next year, the organizers have officially announced that the second BTC Prague conference will take place, unsurprisingly, in Prague, between June 13 and June 15, 2024. If the level of the next year’s conference should be anywhere near the event I attended, it will be a blast for sure.
This is a guest post by Marek Feder. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.