GNOSIS provides an open platform for businesses to create their own prediction market applications on the Ethereum protocol, and they spent the last few months right here at betahaus. For Part 1 of this series, we sat down with Nadja, the Brand & Content Strategist for GNOSIS, to address some frequently asked questions in blockchain: what is blockchain, what are its advantages, and what does it mean to depend on third-parties?
Here's what she had to share!
"I like to describe blockchain as being something like a 'spreadsheet in the sky'. It's a shared, trusted, public ledger of transactions — a distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of transaction data records, cryptographically secured from tampering and revision. This ledger runs on a peer-to-peer network of computers that all run the blockchain protocol and hold an identical copy of the ledger of transactions. Distributed consensus based on economic incentive mechanisms (game theory) combined with cryptography allows for secure peer-to-peer validation of transactions, and hence bypassing the need for traditional trusted third parties (like banks).
Imagine Google Docs. Each person has the latest version of the document, and everybody can inspect it. In order to change the contents of the doc, users need to reach a mutual agreement (consensus). As opposed to Google Docs, the file is not centrally stored, but each node of the network keeps a copy of the blockchain — the distributed ledger recording all transaction history."
"The main advantage of blockchain is that users no longer have to trust a third party to validate transactions. With blockchain, a peer-to-peer network of computers validate transactions by majority vote (consensus). Everyone can inspect this public ledger of transactions, but no single user controls it. Blockchain, hence, provides an architecture for so called 'trustless trust' — it allows us to trust the outputs of the system without trusting any actor within it.
Imagine Anna is your best friend. She's traveling overseas and on the 3rd day of her vacation, she calls you and says: 'Girl, I need some money. I'm totally broke.' You, being a good friend and generally nice person, reply: 'I'll send some right away,' and hang up. You then call your account manager at your bank and tell him (of course you'd use N26 to do this, but let's look at the conservative way for illustration purposes): 'Please transfer 500€ from my account to Anna's account.' He opens up the register, checks your account balance to see if you have enough money to transfer 500€ to Anna. Because you have a lot of money, he makes an entry in the register like the following: Taylor sends Anna 500€ on February 8th, 2018. So, what just happened? You and Anna both trusted the bank to manage your money. There was no real movement of physical bills to transfer it. All that was needed was an entry in the register. Or more precisely, an entry in the register that neither you nor Anna controls or owns. And that is the problem with our current system: to establish trust between ourselves, we rely on individual third-parties."
"The problem is that if anything bad happens in society, all it requires is one person or organization to go corrupt, intentionally or unintentionally. What if that register in which the transaction was logged gets destroyed? What if, by mistake, your account manager had written 1000€ instead of 500€? What if he did that even on purpose? All this leads you to the question whether there's a way to maintain the register among ourselves instead of someone else doing it for us. You may have guessed it — blockchain is the answer. It is a method to maintain that register among ourselves instead of depending on someone else to do it for us."
The 10 Years in beta party was also the official opening of betahaus | Neukölln. Spring was the perfect time for our new project to start growing. The Club Lounge started filling, amazing new teams joined the community such as LAUDO, Obst Digital, Wonderwerk, Trybe and The Zeitsprung Project. Our Gil became the Lord of the house, giving hugs to everybody, fixing all kinds of problems in the ‘haus and keeping it run smoothly with the rest of the Front Desk team. This was also the month when we launched our beloved weekly yoga classes guided by our dear Cynthia from Arrive Yoga.
" People matter! Community was always what we were all about. ‘’
In June we launched #PeopleInbeta - our monthly blog post series in which our Content Manager - Vihra interviewed teams and freelancers from the betahaus community to present the variety of creatives we have in ‘haus, to understand their missions and get some useful advice for our audience. We talked on topics such as sustainability (with PlanA) , decentralized digital identity (with JOLOCOM), curated music experiences (with Bespoke Sounds), freelance photography (with Sara Herrlander), full-stack development (with Obst Digital), design (with LAUDO) and much more.
In the summer, we launched a couple of new events in Neukölln like Freelancers, Unite!, The Backyard Sessions and My friend’s BBQ.
Freelancers, Unite! developed as our productive coworking session with freelancers from in and outside the ‘haus. Once a month, we picked an important freelance topic (such as taxes, time-management, etc) and invited experts to give us insights on the topic. We saw so many new faces and had the chance to come back closer to where we started from - the freelance, grassroots culture.
Another event, which started in July (and turned out to be our favourite events) were The Backyard Sessions. Organised by our queen of Neukölln - Robbin – the Backyard Sessions are our creative evenings with live music jams, movie screenings and cocktails.
This last event was hilarious because for quite some time, nobody knew exactly who organised it or invited them. The friend was throwing a BBQ for the community in the garden and this led to all our members joining and staying after for a beer or two with us.
‘’My favourite moment this year was the second friends bbq which was actually cancelled because of the rain forecast. But despite the bad weather, people show up and it turned into a super nice intimate evening with Elizaveta and Paul giving a garden concert.’’ - Robbin (Community Manager, betahaus)
''In July, it was great how the casual after-work BBQ turned into an impromptu acoustic blues jam session with Elizavetta Barsegova and Paul, who have the voice of an angel. Actually, all of the My Friend's BBQ's and Backyard Sessions were AWESOME.’’ - Paige (Head of Marketing, betahaus)
This year we released a new event format in Kreuzberg called ‘’The betaSalon’’. It's an open panel discussion which aims to give stage to important topics and give free speech on them. The fist one we did on the EU elections, last month we talked about changemakers, but our favourite one for this season stays ‘’Mother + Founder’’ where we partnered with FemGems podcast and recorded a live podcast episode for them having Madeleine Gummer von Mohl (betahaus co-founder), Kristine Zeller (co-creater of ooshi period underwear) and Luisa Hoffman on the stage.
Every September, our co-founders take part in the Techfestival. in Copenhagen, spending a few days disconnecting from the daily life and focusing on creating a better, more human-centered tech future. This year the think tank which included our co-founders Madeleine and Max came up with the TechPledge. The Tech Pledge was made to emphasize the need for a new direction in tech. Similar to the Hippocratic oath for doctors, the Tech Pledge is a promise to make tech a force for good and ensure responsible and sustainable tech leadership. It’s a commitment to driving a new direction in technology.
One of the most exciting projects for betahausX this year (which is also continuing in 2020) is their new startup challenge called The Werder Lab - a global startup competition that aims to reimagine the way clubs like Werder work with athletes, fans and partners.
This year couldn’t end without us having our favourite events - the end-of-the-year holiday party and the BETAPITCH Global Finals. On the 6th of December we saw the 9 finalists of the regional BETAPITCH competitions pitching in front of our jury. Congrats to Troy from Hamburg for winning the big prize.
We finished the year at our Holiday Party celebrating anything and everything at betahaus | Neukölln together with our members, friends of friends and our favourite artists from Passiflora LIVE, Tapete and Kotoe.
Thank you for being with us in 2019. It's been a crazy big year for us and it wouldn't been possible without your support, trust and the hard work of our amazing team. Have an amazing holiday time and we'll see you again in 2020.