I first learned that our community was interested in blockchain technology when the “Peninsula Digital Currency, Bitcoin, and Blockchain Meetup” – which regularly meets in our study rooms – could no longer fit in the room, having unexpectedly overflowed with eager participants. Sensing a possible program idea, I reached out to the group’s leader, Aaron Wu (an attorney and digital assets entrepreneur) and asked if he’d be interested in helping me coordinate a panel presentation on cryptocurrency. Since I knew very little about cryptocurrency and even less about blockchain, my first meeting with Aaron consisted of him scribbling drawings on my whiteboard and exclaiming how he often uses library transactions as a metaphor when breaking down blockchain mechanics to newbs (like myself). I was completely floored. I had no idea that the technology behind Bitcoin could have anything at all to do with libraries. Needless to say, my enthusiasm for the event ratcheted up about tenfold.
About two months later, and the event was a wild success. Aaron was able to secure seven industry experts brimming with excitement to talk with the community (especially newcomers to the technology) about how blockchain has the potential to completely revolutionize not only finance but also the very foundation of how we as consumers (and citizens) operate in a dynamic global economy. With over 55 in attendance in our small Tech Lab, the energy in the room was palpable and infectious. It was a two-hour panel presentation with no food and no breaks, and yet the participants stayed the entire time, asking questions and engaging with our panelists throughout – some even staying behind until closing to chat one-on-one with each other.
Aaron and I plan to stay in touch and possibly hold more events like this. The event largely focused on the logistics of cryptocurrency investing, but one theme resounded above all others: we are facing the genesis of something akin to the creation of the Internet that will likely impact society in ways we can’t begin to fathom. The panelists – including two women* – are all blockchain experts keen on educating their communities about the potential of blockchain and doing more to integrate this nascent technology into more high-minded projects, like governance, libraries, and even gun control. Hopefully, we of the information world can do more collaboration with these folks and help forge this exciting new path. Keep a lookout for future events! And let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
*I note this as there has been news coverage lately of the blockchain community being dominated by men, so hopefully the female presence on the panel is an indication that this male-dominated field will tip into a more egalitarian one.
Technical Services Manager
Burlingame Public Library