Bitcoin Miners and Developers Meet in California to “Improve Communications”

What was thought by some to be a secret meeting of Bitcoin miners and Bitcoin Core developers turned out to look more like a company retreat than anything else, according to those in attendance.

Although there have been some public statements of disagreement between the mining and development communities in Bitcoin, representatives from the two groups met in California over the weekend to improve communications and strengthen their business and personal relationships.

“Over the last few days, some Bitcoin developers and miners got together for a social gathering to improve communication, friendship, and to do some California sightseeing,” notes a statement released by the attendees and shared with Bitcoin Magazine.

Although some aspects of the gathering in California will be made public, a full list of attendees will not be available.

A Weekend of Team Building

The scaling debate was clearly discussed over the course of the meetup in California, but these talks were said to be mostly informal. There was no intention to come to a sort of agreement like the one that was made in Hong Kong earlier this year. The goal was to strengthen the unity between these two segments of the Bitcoin ecosystem.

While obvious topics, such as mining decentralization and progress for hard and soft forks, were discussed over the past few days, the participants in the gathering also had an open discussion with Professor Dan Boneh at Stanford and answered questions from Google employees at their campus.

“We think that Bitcoin’s strength comes from the consensus of its participants,” said those who attended the gathering via a group statement. “Many of us plan to attend Scaling Bitcoin 3 in Milan, Italy, and everyone would like to continue with gatherings like these and others in the future with all parts of the Bitcoin ecosystem. We hope to be releasing notes in the near future for parts of the community that were not attending.”

A Trip to Stanford

A transcript of Boneh’s cryptography talk at Stanford has already been made available by LedgerX Bitcoin Developer Bryan Bishop. During the presentation, Boneh discussed a private form of proof-of-solvency for Bitcoin custodians and exchanges. According to Boneh, this scheme would allow exchanges to prove their solvency without revealing their Bitcoin addresses, total holdings or liabilities, or any information about their customers.

“It’s a chicken-egg problem. Customers aren’t demanding it, so … someone needs to be the first one to step up and do it,” added Boneh. The method of proving solvency is outlined in a paper from last year, which lists Boneh as a co-author.

In addition to proof-of-solvency, Boneh discussed Schnorr signatures and other possible improvements for Bitcoin.

Why Weren’t Exchanges and Wallet Providers Invited?

One of the common questions among those who were not invited to the gathering has been related to the lack of participation from exchanges and wallet providers. Some members of the community expressed concerns over a perceived lack of transparency and sense of exclusion.

“Wow. Bitcoin governance collapses into closed technocratic control,” tweeted Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire.

Samson Mow from BTCC was in attendance, but the company is one of the few that operates both an exchange and as a mining pool.

“The main purpose was to improve communications between miners and Bitcoin Core developers,” Bitcoin Core contributor Eric Lombrozo told Bitcoin Magazine. “It’s harder to do that with a very large group — especially across the cultural and language barrier.”

Lombrozo sees value in these types of events. “In-person meetings help build relationships.” he said.

Bitcoin Core developer Greg Maxwell, who also attended the gathering, echoed this sentiment. “I thought it was really positive — and good to meet up with people face to face that I’d only talked with in email before,” he said in a post on bitcointalk.org.

“The Bitcoin industry seriously needs better communication — especially crossing language and cultural barriers — rather than hot comments on social media,” Maxwell said. “Improved communication will lead to fewer potential avenues for miscommunication and better cooperation in the future.”

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