Devcon4 2018: Highlights of Ethereum Developer Conference

Devcon Ethereum Conference

Where the dysfunctional, decentralized community of Ethereans go to drink the kool-aid

Once a year, Devcon, the biggest conference for blockchain developers, rolls around; and distinctly, it’s unlike any other crypto conference. Its attendees laud the annual get-together as really just a big family reunion.

Devcon attracts representatives from almost every project in the cryptocurrency sector both within and without the nuclear family of Ethereum. It’s the watering hole where the weird cousins twice removed, the uncles you’ve never heard of, and the foster kid from the neighbors next door congregate to catch up and learn about the new things that the other guy is building. Indeed, it does seem like it is a big happy dysfunctional family. And nobody seems to know how to spell “build”.

This year, the foster kid from next door showed up — and he brought a scaling solution to the potluck.


The Cosmos Network gave a talk presenting its blockchain application framework, the Cosmos SDK, for building Web3-compatible pegged sidechains, with an added bonus — blockchain interoperability.

The talk, recorded on YouTube, by Cosmos’ core developer, Christopher Goes articulates the details of how the Cosmos Network provides the technology to do this. Ethermint was the proposed scaling solution for layer 1 horizontal scalability for Ethereum, giving dApp developers the ability to run dedicated EVM instances across multiple connected blockchains.

The SlideShare deck of the Ethermint talkEthermint 2.0 — An Ethereum Scaling Solution


Alexey Akhunov, the lead developer of Turbo-Geth, gave an exceptional talk detailing the optimizations he discovered for each of the Ethereum clients (Geth & Parity Technologies) and for how to reduce the uncle rate on the p2p layer.

Status Hackathon

As a precursor to the main event, Status held a hackathon. Vitalik Buterin made an informal appearance onstage to answer the burning question on everyone’s mind: What’s on the roadmap for Ethereum?

Team DADI giving the audience a demo of DADI’s vibrations.

At the end of the hackathon, the team that won the dishonorable mention award went to Team DADI. DADI  stood for  Decentralized Autonomous Dildo Interface. The standout project hijacked a bluetooth dildo, hooked it up to the Ethereum blockchain, and gave users the ability to bid to control the speed of the mechanic phallus in one block intervals.

Bidding is still possible at:

Vitalik Buterin closed out the pre-Devcon party.

The Main Event

The 5,000-person event was hosted in an impressive venue tucked away in the heart of Prague in a 140,000 sq. ft. exhibition hall.

The organizers got an impressive lineup of speakers from outside the blockchain sector: Glen Weyl and Stewart Brand to name two of them.

Vitalik Buterin welcomed everyone at Devcon4 with an opening keynote which laid out the roadmap of Ethereum, which included the much-anticipated Proof-of-Stake beacon chain, Shasper, and Serenity.

The Swag

Devcon4 was a swag hunter’s dream.

From left to right: Shirts from ConsenSys Design, socks from Polymath, backpack from Hoard, shirt from Status, hoodie from Interchain Foundation(Cosmos).

The Cosmos Network boasted a visual display of its test network with hexagonal doges representing full nodes.

The Afterparties

Left to right: Rockaway Blockchain party. The laser door at MEW (Myetherwallet’s) Casper’s Castle Devcon4 afterparty on Halloween night.
The tower party. Photo credit: Matej Nemček ⚡ 孔子

Art Installation — Neptune Room

One couldn’t help but think one walked into the middle of a Burning Man camp instead of a blockchain conference upon entering the Neptune Room. Yet it’s exactly the kind of experience you’d expect at an Ethereum event. Something about the hanging lights reacting to the sound of a didgeridoo, mbira, and a Hang drum playing in concert created an atmosphere fit for a meditation or a nap after a long day of dense talks.

Special Guest Appearances

Devcon4 was smack in the middle of Halloween, so nothing came as a surprise when people showed up in rather eccentric costumes. Some of the more unique characters who made appearances were:

The Pied Piper

The pied piper would play a song if you asked nicely.

Santa Claus

’Twas the night before DevCon, when all through the chain Not an Etherean was stirring, not even Vlad’s brain. The blocks were all hung on the blockchain with care, in hopes that Vitalik soon would be there. — Lane Rettig

Starring: Griff Green as Santa Claus.

A Caped Shapeshifter

Michael Perklin of traveled to Devcon by cape.

The Closing Ceremony

Aside from doges, the cats also made high profile appearances.

OmiseGO brought on Stewart Brand as the closing keynote.

Following the Thank You cat pawing at the screen in anthropomorphized appreciation was a series of moments consisting of the faces of the attendees themselves who tweeted #devcon4 during the event. And finally, the 4-day developer-oriented conference was closed out on a positive note, by way of a sing-along song.

The Faces

The tone paid a simple homage to its attendees—that the community of builders are the ones who give the technology meaning and relevance to the people who use it. Because absent the human element, decentralization technology in and of itself is easily relegated to the realm of empty promises.

Chjango Unchained

Head of Strategic Communications at Cosmos

Chjango Unchained is the Head of Strategic Communications at Tendermint for the Cosmos Network and is the lead technical writer and chief editor of the Cosmos blog. Chjango writes long-form articles which break down the coverage of protocols, distributed systems, and blockchain technologies for readers at all levels of understanding.