BTC++ Buenos Aires: First Person Shooter Chronicle

Take a look at BTC++ Buenos Aires in the eyes of Ed and take advantage of the high signal

BTC++ Buenos Aires: First Person Shooter Chronicle
March 8, 2024
Eduardo Prospero

I’m not a technical Bitcoiner, so, I was hesitant to buy a ticket for BTC++ Buenos Aires. The thing is, last year, I decided not to go to Labitconf because of ideological differences and my hands were itching for a Bitcoin-only conference. Also, the early bird tickets were selling fast. Following an impulse, I opened my Blink wallet, scanned the QR, got my confirmation e-mail, tweeted about it, joined the Telegram group, and forgot BTC++ Buenos Aires even existed for a few months.

The season changed, Buenos Aires got hot and steamy, and the BTC++ Telegram group started to catch fire. It was time to nerd out. According to their website, “bitcoin++ is a developer-focused conference series. We place a heavy emphasis on long form lectures and workshops, with smaller more-focused audiences who are excited to get deeper into the cutting edge of bitcoin tech.” The Buenos Aires edition was about payments, it focused “on the day to day transactions that bitcoin is enabling locally, digitally, and around the globe.”

A few days before the event, I went to an impromptu asado at La Crypta and met some of the organizers and panelists. I thought I was in. That I was already part of the BTC++ Buenos Aires crew. That I wasn’t going to have problems mingling in at the actual conference.

How wrong was I? Extremely wrong.

Social Anxiety @ Palermo Soho

I’m not a morning person. I arrived at BTC++ Buenos Aires’ first day around noon and fighting a headache. The conference was on a break while the staff served lunch. The catering was classy and food was flowing nonstop. Impressive. Also, since I bought an early ticket and prices in Argentina have been surging mercilessly, the whole endeavor suddenly turned into a good investment. Sometimes the crazy economic hurricanes that fiat money creates end up benefiting you.

I’m not particularly active in the city’s Bitcoin scene, but I’ve been to a few events and already knew some of the usual suspects. I greeted every familiar bitcoiner, including some of the characters from the impromptu asado night, and suddenly felt it— social anxiety. Not only mine, most people around me were freaking out and trying to hide it. There were no extroverts at BTC++ Buenos Aires. Networking at this particular event was going to be much harder than expected.

The talks resumed activity and I felt even more lost. As advertised, most of the panelists were speaking in code. I was out of my league. The technical jargon sounded like K-pop to me, completely incomprehensible. Also, and this is my only BTC++ Buenos Aires criticism, the sound was atrocious. It was most likely the venue’s fault; the three stages were divided by movable wooden walls that didn’t reach the ceiling, so all the talks merged into a soundscape from hell. The effort and focus needed to hear each one in its totality was monk-like.  

Nevertheless, I quickly discovered that in every set of three, at least one of the panels was for technically illiterate bitcoiners like myself. And I got used to the madness, strategically positioned myself near the speakers, and got to understand Carla Kirk-Cohen’s description of the Lightning Network’s vulnerabilities and hear Negrunch describe his new Mostro, among other things.

BTC++ Buenos Aires’ World Famous Mining LARP

To close BTC++ Buenos Aires’ second day, I joined a table with Bitcoiners from all over the world to participate in “Base58's World Famous Bitcoin LARP.” According to the official documentation, “These kits enable teams to re-enact the Bitcoin network in real time, using humans instead of computers to build and verify transactions, build a distributed network, and compete to find the next winning blockhash.”

The activity was a roaring success. It taught me elusive concepts about mining and how the Bitcoin network works, and it created a fun environment that broke most of the social anxiety barriers that I felt at BTC++ Buenos Aires. Teams of strangers worked together as a node trying to get their blocks in the chain. The competitive nature of the mining process makes for a phenomenal game that awakens the tiger within. 

That being said, my team, “The Hashers,” suffered a humiliating defeat. However, we bonded and learned, which was the real objective all along.

In any case, it’s worth noting that “Base58 got an OpenSats grant for scaling the World Famous Bitcoin LARP.” Their “goal is to build a LARP army that is full of experts that can run LARPs across the globe, in their language and on-demand for their community or situation” and they’re “doing a 2-day in-person training event in Mexico next month for LARP facilitators.”

My Friend Wins The Hackathon

Since in my real life everyone is sick of hearing me talk about Bitcoin, I usually jump at the chance of spending time doing just that. So, a month or so before BTC++ Buenos Aires, I had dinner with a Bitcoin developer whom I met through the Telegram group. We reunited at the event and kept the discussion going. However, since he had the means to understand the technical talks, we seldom went to the same ones. 

On the third day, BTC++ Buenos Aires was completely dedicated to a hackathon. While all the developers coded for five hours straight, I networked away where the action was: near the food. After that, more than ten teams presented very diverse projects. It was incredibly fun. My developer friend presented his Thunder project, which he describes as “Take a lightning invoice and broadcast it encoded in audio. Separately listen for such a broadcast and decode it to a lightning invoice. Pay the invoice via webln.”

He asked for silence, clicked play, the audio started in one window and the invoice arrived at the other. The place exploded in applause. He ended up winning the hackathon’s main prize and nobody objected. His victory was undeniable.

BTC++ Buenos Aires’ Conclusions

Meeting other Bitcoiners in meat space is always positive. It was awkward at first, I couldn’t connect with a few, and I had adamant discussions about spam and Ordinals with others, but BTC++ Buenos Aires was a positive experience. I learned a lot. I had a phenomenal time. I feel invigorated to grab this bull year by the horns.

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