A Report from the First Day of the BlockDown 2020 Conference

As I wrote about earlier (here), the BlockDown 2020 blockchain/cryptocurrency virtual conference is taking place April 16th and 17th, 2020 on a special-purpose, white-label platform operated by Sinespace.

I got an email yesterday evening inviting me to download a special version of the BlockDown client software, visit the BlockDown Lobby area, and customize my avatar. (Note that this is a separate client from the regular Sinespace client, and you must have purchased a ticket to the conference to be able to attend.)

So I decided to pay a visit before the conference started at 9:00 a.m. CET (2:00 a.m. my local time here in Winnipeg). The BlockDown Lobby area is futuristic, spacious, and attractive, with plenty of space for avatars to mix and mingle:

However, there is no getting around the fact that there is still an overwhelming amount of information presented for newbies to process and digest, both in the PDF guide attached to that invitation email, and on in-world bulletin boards in the lobby!

There was always going to be a learning curve associated with holding a conference in a virtual world, but I really think this could have been drastically simplified. After all, these are crypto people first and foremost, who might not be all that interested in the finer details of avatar customization, attachment repositioning, and shopping for new duds to stand out from the crowd.

To make things a bit easier for those brand new to virtual worlds, there are eight starter avatar models at the landing point, which you just click on to grab a predetermined avatar look (four male and four female, including a couple of astronaut suits):

Me, I immediately hit the Shop button and spent some of my starter 30,000 “Blocks” currency to make myself look a little different from all the cookie-cutter avatars around me! (I also fattened myself up a bit to match the real-life me. Sinespace is still among the very few virtual worlds where I can actually adjust the body sliders to be overweight! Hey, it’s my reality, I may as well embrace it.)

New eyes, new skin, new hair, new jacket, a little extra avoirdupois…much better!

A couple of Sinespace employees were present to help out the newbies, whom I chatted with for a bit:

So, all set up for the conference, I set my alarm for 1:45 a.m. and went to bed. I landed up getting up once in the middle of the night for about half an hour, then going back to bed, and then finally waking up again this morning at 5:30 a.m. to revisit the conference.

There is a small trade show floor, rather sparsely attended when I visited, with virtual booths (some manned by avatar sales reps):

I was slightly disappointed when I realized that most, if not all, of the featured speakers were not going to be represented by in-world avatars, but by video screens in the conference auditorium:

To be honest, I really came more for the novelty of attending a white-label version of Sinespace, designed specifically for an event. I simply wanted to see what would be the same as regular Sinespace, and what would be different. My interest in blockchain and cryptocurrencies only extends as far as blockchain-based virtual worlds, so most of the presentation topics have not been not that applicable to me.

As I predicted, almost all the other avatars I encountered were one of the eight basic models provided in the lobby, with absolutely zero modifications. Were it not for the name tags over everybody else’s heads, I would have had a great deal of difficulty distinguishing between people!

The BlockDown 2020 conference runs all day today and tomorrow; here is the complete conference agenda. Tickets cost £20.00 and can be bought through their website.

The BlockDown 2020 Conference Will Be Running April 16th and 17th, 2020 in a Virtual World

A sneak peek at the Exhibition Floor (image source)

BlockDown 2020 is a two-day blockchain/cryptocurrency virtual conference, running from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. CET (Central European Time) each day on April 16th and 17th, 2020, with a rather impressive line-up of speakers:

Just a few of the big names who will be speaking at BlockDown 2020

The conference organizers say:

BlockDown is the new lockdown – and you’re invited. This digital spectacular promises to be the leading remote blockchain event of the year. Join us and take part in the new global digital revolution.

Investment

With the global economy set to experience testy times for the next few months at least, responsible investment in cryptocurrency is a topic that many will be wanting to explore in more detail.

Gaming

The gaming industry is certainly growing at an exponential rate and a look at how blockchain technology can support the new generation of game tech is sure to excite many of our audience.

DeFi

Decentralized finance is a gamechanger for businesses as more and more companies look to utilise smart contracts, protocols, and decentralized applications. Hear opinions from the biggest leaders in the space regarding what the future holds for DeFi.

Privacy

How does affect blockchain protect privacy? What’s the difference between public and private keys? How secure is blockchain really? We’re getting answers to your burning privacy questions right here, right now.

Social Impact

Blockchain technology has the power to change lives, which is why more and more projects are dedicating resources to making a difference; something many of our speakers at BlockDown are passionate about.

Trading

Trading can be intimidating, to say the least, which is why we’re bringing in experts and leaders to discuss the benefits of smart trading and what we should be mindful of in order to maximise our results.

Security

Security, blockchain and cryptocurrency – three words we often see together, and three topics that should always be spoken about together. Let all your security-related questions be answered here at BlockDown.

Enterprise

What enterprise blockchain trends can we expect to see throughout the rest of 2020, and will this year be the year that the corporate world and end-users are really ready to adopt and embrace blockchain?

The CoinTelegraph reports:

Blockchain and cryptocurrency enthusiasts have found new ways to come together amid the global coronavirus lockdown. A crypto conference called BlockDown 2020 is scheduled to take place in the virtual realm this month, with big name personalities from the blockchain community set to appear as digital 3D avatars.

Notable attendees on the docket include Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao, Stellar co-founder Jed McCaleb, and NEO founder Da Hongfei. Also appearing will be Roger Ver, executive chairman of Bitcoin.com, and Erik Voorhees, CEO and founder of Shapeshift. Musician-turned-crypto-innovator Akon will headline the event…

The conference is set to last the entire day, and will include live fireside chats hosted in a virtual 3D space. Live AMAs and Q&As will take place, and attendees will be free to network with other people in virtual space. They’ll even have the opportunity to pitch business ideas to Akon directly.

The NewsBTC website reports:

Virtual crypto conference BlockDown 2020 will utilize cutting edge tech that puts its visitors inside a virtual 3D conference.

On April 16-17, BlockDown 2020 will be defying government lockdowns to keep the crypto community networking, and it will be using a bleeding edge software package to do so.

BlockDown attendees will be able to design and choose their own avatar before sending it into the virtual conference hall, which will feature booths, stands and keynote speakers from some of crypto’s most colorful characters and businesses. Attendees are also encouraged to watch the BlockDown mainstage and panels all within the 3D environment.

“Think of it like a crypto version of ‘The Sims,”” said Erhan Korhaliller, organizer and founder of crypto PR agency EAK Digital.

“ We want the networking to be as natural as it would be at a real life conference, where you met your best friend at the water cooler, at the afterparty or in the networking/lounge area. Imagine your usual crypto conference, with booths, stands, branded t-shirts, stages and networking areas. This will be exactly the same but will allow attendees to control and direct their avatars to whatever content, speakers and booths they’re interested in.”

The entire conference will be run on a white label use of the Sinespace platform. Tickets for the conference cost £20, and can be purchased online here. If you already have an existing account on Sinespace, you can attend BlockDown 2020 if you purchase your ticket using the same email address as your Sinespace avatar account.

See you there!

You’d better be at BlockDown! (image source)

The Immersive Learning Research Network Partners with Educators in VR to Host the iLRN Conference in Virtual Reality, June 21st to 25th, 2020: How You Can Attend for Free!

I’m not sure how I missed it, but the Immersive Learning Research Network is among the many organizations that have decided to completely move their real-world conference this year into virtual reality (here’s the press release):

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Immersive Learning Research Network (iLRN) has made the decision to host its IEEE technically co-sponsored annual conference for 2020 fully online and in virtual reality (VR), supported by a number of other software platforms. iLRN will offer this conference, now in its sixth year, in conjunction with Educators in VR, the organizers of the highly successful Educators in VR International Summit that was held in VR in February of this year, which included over 170 speakers and attracted over 6,000 event attendees.

The iLRN Annual Conference is the premier scholarly event focusing on advances in the use of VR as well as augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and other extended reality (XR) technologies to support learners across the full span of learning—from K-12 through higher education to work-based, informal, and lifelong learning contexts. iLRN 2020 had been slated to take place at the California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo, California, USA from June 21 to 25. The conference dates remain the same despite the shift to the virtual format, though the deadline has been extended for work-in-progress academic papers as well as for practitioner presentations, workshops, panels, and special sessions to April 19, 2020.

And, as Educators in VR reminds us in this tweet, early-bird registration for students, faculty, teachers, and educational administrators is free! But you have to register by April 19th, 2020. Here’s the form to get your free tickets via EventBrite (please note that you must use an email address associated with your educational institution to take advantage of this offer).

CoinFest 2020 Runs March 30th to April 5th in Decentraland

CoinFest 2020, a virtual cryptocurrency conference, is taking place from March 30th to April 5th, 2020 within the blockchain-based virtual world Decentraland.

But, before we get to that, I have a bone to pick with one of the crypto news organizations that is covering this event. Let me rant.

The CoinTelegraph cryptocurrency news website actually used the following image to illustrate an article titled Crypto Conference Defies COVID-19 Lockdown by Hosting in Virtual Realm:

What the in name of sweet minty Jesus is this?!?? Somebody needs to inform the folks at CoinTelegraph that this is a pandemic, and not some goddamned mix-and-mingle cocktail party with face masks added as the latest trendy fashion accessory. The tone-deafness of this is absolutely astounding, and frankly I find it offensive.

The accompanying article states:

The COVID-19 crisis may have put a stop to millions of sports events, work conferences and meet-ups across the world, but it has not halted those in the cryptocurrency space.

The Coinfest Conference, which runs until April 4, has found a way to defy the coronavirus lockdown by setting up shop in the digital blockchain realm of Decentraland. 

The first day of the virtual conference kicked off on March 30th, beginning with a round of games that offered users the chance to win MANA tokens — one of Decentraland’s native currencies.


All right, now that I have gotten that off my chest, let’s get back to the actual conference itself.

You can get free tickets for Coinfest here, as well as see a complete schedule of events taking place.

All events take place at the Meeting Center at the Decentraland Conference Center (that last link should take you directly there, although you might have to set up an avatar first if you’ve never visited before). The owner and operator of the Conference Center, Carl Fravel, has provided a guide to getting started in Decentraland.

Carl himself will be giving a presentation at Coinfest at 6:30 p.m. UTC (11:30 a.m. Pacific Time) in Saturday, April 4th, on the topic Decentraland – A Virtual World on the Blockchain. And, if you like, you can join in the party which starts at 5:00 p.m. UTC at this location.

See you there!