It was a calm day in early August when we launched a call for contributions for ConsensusDay 21, the launch event for our ConsensusLab. Originally intended to be an intimate, one-day virtual workshop aiming to foster discussion of consensus research and bootstrap a collaboration network, it soon became clear that it was growing beyond our wildest expectations – and certainly beyond what we had planned and were prepared to accommodate.
While the expression “overwhelming interest” is overused in this context, we truly were overwhelmed. In order to cope with the increasing number of submissions and registrations, we extended the event to two days, enlisted additional organisation and hosting help, and recruited an expert TPC that helped review all submissions. While they worked in the backend, we’ll use this opportunity to acknowledge Alberto Sonnino, Alfonso de la Rocha, Barath Raghavan, Giuliano Losa, Irene Giacomelli, Luca Nizzardo, Matej Pavlovic, Nicolas Gailly, Petar Maymounkov, Sarah Azouvi, Vivien Quéma, Will Scott, and Yiannis Psaras – thank you!
When 6 October arrived, our programme included 24 accepted talks, selected from 41 high-quality submissions, and counted many top names and institutions in consensus research, spanning academia and industry and covering topics that included sharding, scaling and performance, asynchronous consensus, asymmetric trust, networking, checkpointing, eventual consistency, and more – just check out the full program! In addition to the submitted talks, we also had our own Marko Vukolić present our vision for ConnsensusLab and distributed computing, and Juan Benet motive the need for consensus breakthroughs in the context of Web3. Finally, we had a discussion panel on collaborative research.
Oh, we also had 252 registered attendees, 100 of whom were simultaneously in the room at one point, and get the credit for the extremely active discussions in Slack.
It’s fair to say that the event exceeded all of our expectations. More importantly, we were delighted to get the same feedback from the community, with several participants placing it among their top three virtual events. We’re certain that the event already laid the groundwork for future collaborations, not just with ConsensusLab but among attendees and speakers as well. This is not the end, though – we’re already thinking how we can keep the momentum going, with an improved event in 2022 and asynchronous discussion opportunities in the meantime.
Before we sign off, one final thank you to all of you: the authors, speakers, moderators, reviewers, and – last but not least – attendees. The community surprised us at every step of this journey and we couldn’t be more excited to be in this space and work alongside you.