A gaggle of Ethereans will descend upon Berlin for a one-day gathering on Thursday, January 31. The event, known as GörliCon, will assemble both techies and non-techies with skin in the Ethereum movement.
The conference is ostensibly centered around Görli: a proof-of-authority, cross-client testnet on Ethereum. According to Görli's GitHub repository, no testnet currently exists "that is both widely usable across all client implementations, and robust enough to guarantee consistent availability and high reliability." Thus, Görli aims to sync the Parity Ethereum, Geth, Nethermind, Pantheon, and EthereumJS clients.
Although the testnet was born during the ETHBerlin hackathon in September 2018, the project has grown considerably since then, bringing in contributors and collaborators from teams at Parity Technologies, Infura, MakerDAO, POA Network, and ChainSafe, among others. It is entirely open source and built by the community.
However, GörliCon is more than the testnet that gives the event its name. The gathering is part Görli, part open-source community-building, and part ETHBerlin reunion. Further, the event marks the official debut of the Department of Decentralization (DoD), the group behind ETHBerlin and GörliCon, as a unified collective with its own identity (German wolpertingers, bears, and all).
María Paula Fernández, a key organizer for the DoD, told ETHNews that the conference will have three tracks. The first will be purely technical in nature and focused on Görli; the second will both educate attendees about how to support open-source development communities and present the DoD's two pilot projects; and the third will give ETHBerlin alumni a space to present the projects they are developing.
One of the DoD's pilot projects is a study to challenge current beliefs about the intersection of art and blockchain technology. A panel titled "There's No Such Thing as Blockchain Art: An Open Discussion" will introduce the project, convening artists and thinkers alike.
Programming will take place across two meeting halls, Görli and Kotti. The latter takes its name from the Kotti testnet, which is like Görli but for the Ethereum Classic network. As Parity's Afri Schoedon told ETHNews, "The difference is just the underlying protocol which differs slightly between ETH and ETC."
In line with the DoD's ethos, GörliCon is intended for a broad audience. Fernández emphasized that everyone is welcome at the event:
"[GörliCon is] fit for nontechnical, and technical people. Beginners, artists, coders, CEOs, communicators, and of course, this is Berlin, so our cardinal rule is to protect the beautiful diversity of our city and translate it to our technology."
Indeed, while a conference based on a testnet is atypical, GörliCon's significance emerges less from the event's topic and more from the diverse following that surrounds it. Fernández said one of the goals for the gathering is to continue to grow the Görli community. She characterized such an endeavor as "building a new stream of hacktivism."
"We might not be whistleblowers but we want to educate, break some stereotypes, and help build fair systems," she said. "So this is only another step towards that."
GörliCon is scheduled for Thursday, January 31, from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Central European Time in Factory Berlin Görlitzer Park, a collaborative space inspired by Andy Warhol's Factory in New York City. Individuals can register via Kickback with a 0.2 ETH deposit. This deposit, however, can either be reclaimed after attending the event or donated to help fund the Görli testnet.