Digital Portsmouth event: All about BitcoinBy GRETYL MACALASTER
Special to the Union Leader
March 09. 2014 4:09PM
PORTSMOUTH — Bitcoin, which has generated international headlines in recent months, will be the topic of discussion during the Digital Portsmouth series at The Music Hall’s historic theater on Thursday, March 20, from 5:30 to 9 p.m.
“The Bitcoin Symposium” will feature an evening of networking and presentations to be followed by an open discussion to celebrate the third anniversary of The Music Hall’s Digital Portsmouth series.
The symposium will include several micro-talk presentations about the worldwide cryptocurrency, including how it is acquired and spent and how companies can start accepting it.
Talks will also focus on the legitimacy of the new currency and significant events around Bitcoins, including the recent closure of Mt. Gox, the currency’s largest exchange, and about potential market regulation of the currency.
Digital Portsmouth was launched three years ago by Monte Bohanan, director of marketing for The Music Hall, with a vision to engage digital creatives from across disciplines with face-to-face learning and networking opportunities focused around topics that excite them.
“It is great to get it out there, let people ask their questions, and talk about the good and the bad,” Bohanan said. “It does have this potential to really change how we view currency, but there is a dark underbelly possible there, and we are seeing it in recent headlines related to volatility and ease of use for people doing things they shouldn’t be.”
Bohanan said The Music Hall is committed to keeping up with current events. Digital Portsmouth events are held quarterly. Previous topics have included Web design, print and graphic design, video, code and open source software.
“We’ve traditionally held these all, except one other one, in the Loft and they’ve played to a full house … just about every time,” Bohanan said. “It’s a chance for people who work in agencies or who work in tech around here to get together, network, have a cocktail, listen to some microtalks and then have a discussion about these various topics.”
Micro-talks are short presentations, generally 10-15 minutes, that are more like TEDTalks.
The website blockchain.info is one of several event sponsors and has donated a Bitcoin, allowing Digital Portsmouth to give away centibits at the door to the first 100 people to arrive. Bohanan said a centibit is currently worth about $5.
The idea for the Bitcoin Symposium came from a conversation with Joshua Cyr of Alpha Loft, who pointed out that although there are many articles and a lot of news about Bitcoins, many people still don’t understand what they are or are afraid of the digital currency.
Alpha Loft also offers many educational and networking events and workshops and Cyr said he received many requests for more information on Bitcoin and how it works.
“It seemed like there was significant interest and confusion, which is a great catalyst for doing a great, educational event,” Cyr said.
He said New Hampshire has ranked high in terms of Bitcoin use. Overstock.com became the largest online retailer to accept the currency in January and a follow-up survey after the first week showed that per capita, New Hampshire had the highest amount of activity using Bitcoin, according to a map on businessinsider.com and other websites.
Cyr said he finds Bitcoin very interesting as a concept, and Alpha Loft accepts the currency as a form of payment.
He said people tend to think Bitcoin is complicated, but e-commerce in general right now is complicated, and incurs a lot of transfer fees, whereas Bitcoin does not.
It can also allow for “micro-transactions,” which traditional currency does not allow for.
He said it is still unclear whether Bitcoin will be a fad or be revolutionary.
“We don’t know, but it is certainly important to understand it,” Cyr said.
More information about the event is available at The Music Hall’s website, www.themusichall.org. Tickets for the event are $5 and are available through The Music Hall.