Blockchain gurus preaching tech to Thai concertgoers

Digital met ‘def jam’ last week at Pattaya’s Wonderfruit music festival as blockchain gurus preached their gospel to young Thai concert-goers in hopes of making new digital technologies relatable and inspiring them to get more involved in the tech revolution.

“Blockchain is such an insular community, and it’s hard to break out of that bubble,” Ashoka Finley, an engineer for ConsenSys who made a presentation at the festival, told the Bangkok Post. ConsenSys is a software company that says it explores ways to use blockchain technology for social change.

Thailand is rapidly emerging as a hub for blockchain, digital technologies, and startups in Southeast Asia and East Asia. Major Thai banks have invested in blockchain startups and are using the technology. Financial regulators have approved the use of seven digital currencies. The National Innovation Agency and True Corporation have launched a digital development zone in Bangkok to provide homes for startups and innovative developers.

In one Bangkok neighborhood, residents recently began using blockchain to trade and conserve electricity.

Thailand’s younger generation will be the key, however, to the Kingdom’s digital future. “It’s important to make this stuff relatable for young people,” Ashoka said. “Blockchain can be so naval gaze-y, you need more conversations in spaces that are not blockchain focused.”

So he and other blockchain advocates set up a pavilion at Wonderfruit, the annual arts, music and culture festival in Chonburi province. The festival is a magnet for young people from all around the Kingdom, as well as foreign residents and tourists.

Inaugurated in 2014, Wonderfruit organizers make a point of promoting inclusion, social responsibility, and sustainability. Aside from music and art, the festival includes exhibits, seminars, and TED-style talks. They have covered everything from environmental awareness to permaculture, orangutan conservation, crystal healing, and raku ceramics workshops.

At this year’s festival in mid-December, Lance Diaresco, the director of brand and creative solutions at Google, ran a meditation seminar, encouraging the audience to face their fears by anthropomorphizing them and talking to them.

“Festivals have an important part to play in encouraging change and creating a dialogue. Where else does this happen in physical spaces besides at festivals?” said speaker Constant Tedder, chief executive of co-working space chain Hive.

Melissa Carpio, who traveled to Thailand from the United States to attend Wonderfruit, told the Bangkok Post, “If I’m going to dedicate my time to a music festival, I want an experience that encompasses many factors like art, culture, and learning. I’ve never seen education emphasized to this extent at any of the other big festivals.”

Photo courtesy of Wonderfruit