Community During Crisis

The last few weeks have upended the global economy and thrown many of our daily lives into disarray. The blockchain and digital assets community is no exception; because so many blockchain firms and startups have headquarters or team members in New York or in Silicon Valley, two areas with especially large and serious outbreaks.

CoinDesk’s Consensus: New York, the most prestigious and most important annual event in the blockchain industry, has announced that it will be going virtual, and smaller conferences are likely to be canceled or postponed. Though work continues, many offices sit empty: In the cause of safety, solidarity, and social distancing, many firms have established or expanded work from home.

Although the coronavirus emergency is good for no one, it has revealed some uncommon strengths in the cryptocurrency world. Blockchain proponents advocate a decentralized world; we’ve seen that social ties remain strong even when offices and firms are distributed. Similarly, the digital assets community, behind all the whitepapers and the memes and the controversies, is an essentially idealistic one: It believes that technology can improve the world and build a more equitable future. Blockchain companies and projects went remote well before other industries did. Of course, some of this response was possible because digital assets attract tech-savvy individuals. But it’s also the case that it attracts people who believe in doing the right thing, even when inconvenient. 

And while coronavirus means that some things, like the face-to-face meetings of New York Blockchain Week, just won’t happen, already the community has shown a knack for problem-solving and a talent for flexibility. With less than two months to go, CoinDesk decided that Consensus couldn’t be canceled because it could be online. The ambition and scale of their effort should be a model for other industries. 

Around the world, crypto enthusiasts and supporters are working to minimize the spread and mitigate the impact of coronavirus. Hedera Hashgraph is tracking the virus usings its distributed ledger protocol. CoinDesk reports that crypto fundraisers are in progress, while well-established distributed computing project [email protected], a forerunner to proof of work in some ways, has pivoted to virus research. Many firms across the industry have encouraged social isolation and work from home; in the case of New York-area firms, many were a week or more ahead of the mayor’s directive. 

Although we all wish this emergency had never happened and hope for a swift resolution, we can at least take comfort in the strength and goodness it has revealed in this industry. Even when socially isolating, the blockchain community sticks together.


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