“Welcome to the new normal!” When I wrote that sentence as part of the title for my panel discussion at this year’s Hyperledger Global Forum, I reflected on how much had changed since last year’s in-person Global Forum that was held right before the worldwide pandemic shut everything down. In fact, that was the last in-person conference that I have attended in fifteen months, and Brian Behlendorf, Hyperledger’s Executive Director, mentioned during his opening keynote presentation that he had a similar experience. This new normal was the driver for my panel discussion at Global Forum with Alfonso Govela, Jyoti Ponnapali, David Boswell, and Jim Mason about the significant transition of Hyperledger Meetups from always being an in-person event to now trying to have the presentations appeal to a much broader virtual audience.
It was readily apparent from attending the three days of Global Forum that the attendees were very engaged in the virtual event and that the overall sense of community had grown stronger during the past year by virtue of having universal virtual collaboration across groups due to the pandemic. Arnaud Le Hors, Hyperledger TSC Chair, did a great job of highlighting all of the significant projects and innovation under the Hyperledger greenhouse during his keynote.
I enjoyed serving as a moderator for a few of the sessions, but I really want to congratulate the entire Hyperledger events team, especially Daniela Barbosa, Karen Ottoni, Emily Ruf, Celia Stamps and Helen Garneau, on their hard work and the monumental effort that went into creating a very successful, inclusive and diverse two track event that highlighted all of the contributors from around the world within one seamless event.
I attended a variety of technical, business and impact track events, and the Hopin virtual event platform worked well and allowed for good audience interaction with the breakout sessions. The virtual networking sessions in Gather.Town were also fun, as networking, whether virtual or in person, is a critical component of any successful conference. One of the other great fun networking events was the trivia session run by Alissa Worley, Global Marketing Director – Blockchain, as part of Accenture’s diversity and inclusion sponsorship, and the music provided by DJ JRIP. Who knew that Brian Behlendorf was also once a D.J.?!
One thing that really highlighted the commitment of Hyperledger Members like IBM to the open source community for me was the keynote announcement by Kareem Yusuf, General Manager AI Applications and Blockchain, that they were contributing source code for a number of new Hyperledger Labs, including Fabric Operations Console and one that supports token exchanges on Hyperledger Fabric.
The dynamic keynotes by David Treat of Accenture about his work with multi-party systems and FDA Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas around the use of blockchain to ensure food safety highlighted the thriving Hyperledger projects that are achieving real world success.
The rich content covered in the breakout sessions was phenomenal! I enjoyed many of the sessions that covered verifiable SSI credentials (Michelle Ghazal & Nate Sulat and Stephen Curran & John Jordan), industry blockchain consortia (Si Chen), blockchain interoperability (Peter Somogyvari), Central Bank Digital Currencies (David Treat, Jennifer Peve and John Velissarios), Hyperledger Ursa (Mike Lodder), supply chain security (Vipin Bharanthan), trade finance (Mark Cudden), and thriving ecosystems (Melanie Cutlan). (You can dive into the video stream of these sessions and more here.)
Some of the other keynote presentations that stood out to me included those on topics highly relevant to today such as the use of blockchain to fight climate change and to provide health credentials for international travel as well as the overview of the Hyperledger Governing Board by Robert Palantick of DTCC. It was also nice to hear about some of the new hot items such as NFTs with Imogen Heap, Daniel Heyman, Brendan Cooper, and Daniel Heyman, as well as how blockchain can take on misinformation in general as outlined in the keynote presentation by Jonathan Dotan.
Other highlights from Global Forum were some solid collaborations with the Ethereum and ConsenSys communities through Brian Behlendorf’s fireside chat with Vitalik Bueterin and the breakout sessions by Danno Ferrin, Grace Hartley and Adam Clark around Hyperledger Besu.
I’m proud to be a part of such a welcoming, purpose-driven, and inclusive community and looking forward to the next Hyperledger Global Forum when we can get back to having the “new normal” look much more like the “old normal.” It will be all the more welcoming when the diverse Hyperledger community can once again come together in person.