ETHDenver: A Glimpse into the Future

Adrian Hanft
5 min readFeb 18, 2020

I signed up for ETHDenver 2020 hoping to learn more about cryptocurrency. What I came away with was questions about the viability of, well, everything. Yes, the blockchain promises to revolutionize our world, but it’s more than that. The thing that stood out after a weekend at ETHDenver wasn’t the tech, it was the people and the process. Let me try to explain what I saw and why it is important.

ETHDenver takes place at the Sports Castle, an old warehouse building that has nothing at all to do with sports or castles. With chipped paint, brick walls, exposed wires, and boarded up windows, the Sports Castle comes equipped with all the pleasantries of a hacker dystopia. The film crew for Mr. Robot could show up and begin filming without modification, and no, the homeless tents in the streets aren’t props.

For someone used to traditional hotel-style venues, the warehouse vibe was disorienting at first. I have been primed to expect dry danishes and empty conference rooms connected by long carpeted hallways where attendants avoid eye contact as they shuffle between PowerPoint presentations. ETHDenver isn’t your typical venue.

Once you get your bearings, the magic of the Sports Castle’s unique architecture becomes apparent. Despite it being a six story building, there isn’t an elevator. There are no doors, dividing walls, or separate rooms. Everything is open, connected, and accessible. Each floor is linked by a ramp that ascends to the next floor, corkscrewing you up another level. The effect is a seamless flow of people, united, alive, and activated. If the noise and bustle overwhelms you, there is a dark room behind a curtain filled with giant beanbag chairs where the workers are coaxed into a productive trance state by a DJ.

The coffee, energy drinks, fruit, and salty snacks are all free and regularly restocked by a dedicated crew that tries to keep pace with the hackers. If you need a full meal, there are food trucks parked right outside the front entrance. To pay, scan the QR code with a burner wallet, a compelling demonstration of cryptocurrency in action.

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Adrian Hanft

Author of User Zero: Inside the Tool that is Reshaping Dystopia