A Retrospective on my time as Organizer of the SF Cryptocurrency Devs Meetup

Emergency Readings

One Thursday afternoon, Taariq excitedly posted a link with the following caption:

Check this out! It is the new Hotness! Avalanche, DAGS! ??

He was of course talking about Team Rocket’s recently published whitepaper, titled: Snowflake to Avalanche: A Novel Metastable Consensus Protocol Family for Cryptocurrencies

Rob, we need an event ASAP. How about we host a reading session to discuss this. We will call it an Emergency Reading and it will be this Sunday from 5PM to 7PM.

And just like that, Emergency Sunday readings became a bi-weekly Sunday event (my favorite event, socratic style, interactive discussions of the latest and greatest upcoming cryptography schemes, consensus protocols, etc.)

Pretty quickly we had a regular crowd, a dedicated community of people who voluntarily gave up their Sunday, every other weekend, to nerd-out with Taariq and myself. This seemingly came out of nowhere and ultimately made no-sense, at first. Why was a Sunday reading event so exciting? What inspired this dedicated bunch? What incentivized these engineers to spend time during the week, pre-reading, in preparation for the Sunday events?

TLDR: The Pareto principle is real. 80% of what I learned over the course of hosting this Meetup happened at 20% of the events (Sunday Emergency Readings). Of those events, 80% of the contributions came from 20% of the people. Let’s call these people stallions.

Bear with me, I have a point.

At the end of the day, most groups need some sort of leader, someone to push the group forward and to ward against laziness, inactivity, and complacency. Every time we had one of these Emergency Readings, a leader naturally took charge and bestowed upon the group his/her expertise in the subject.

  • For Avalanche, a distributed systems engineer explained how everything connected together.
  • For Mimble Wimble, I explained the elliptic curve cryptography behind blinded transactions and Pedersen commitments.
  • For threshold, proxy re-signatures, Taariq explained his own project’s signature scheme.
  • For Grin, Quinten Le Sceller explained the Dandelion protocol.

The experience of the group, and ultimately the success of the event could be credited to the exceptional efforts of a single individual.

Lesson #2: Find your stallion. Every community needs someone to push the group forward.

Posted by wiredgorilla