Mark Simpson & Steven Wang: Bitcoin, Crypto Assets and Blockchain

While I understand the concepts behind Bitcoin and blockchain, I’ve never really understood how they actually worked. So, I was pleased when Mark Simpson and Steven Wang from RBS offered to come do a talk for us on the subject. This was our second industry talk of the 2017/8 academic year, the last one being Katie Fenn: Chrome DevTools, Inside Out.

Slides: PowerPoint file (University logins only)

I first met Mark when I saw him speak at Design It; Build It (read more in DiBi 2017 Reflections). I was very interested to learn about some of the innovative work that his team has been doing at RBS. Since then, we’ve been looking for an opportunity to work together, so I’m glad that it finally worked out!

This event was our most popular one yet – counting all sign-ups (including cancellations) and the waiting list, we had a total of almost 160 interested people. In the end, we had a full house of about 120 attendees. I would guess that this is due in part to the popular subject, and also in part to the fact that it took place so close to the Festival of Creative Learning, when many people are looking to attend events.

Those who have read my previous event write-ups know that I like to include a breakdown of the audience members. For organisers like me, it is interesting to see where people are coming from across the University.

This was quite an unusual talk in that over half of the audience (53%) came from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Most of these were from the Business School, which makes sense given the implications that Bitcoin and blockchain have for businesses. After this, the next largest group was from Information Services (24%), followed by other support services (17%). This is the first event we have done where the largest number of attendees did not come from Information Services, so it was exciting to see the reach of the community growing.

This was also the first talk we have done where we had equal numbers of students and staff attending. I was surprised to see one student sign up to the talk before I had even announced it! It was great to see so much interest from our students. Again, most of the students who attended came from the Business School.

Despite the fact that this was a more technical subject, most of the people who attended did not come from technical backgrounds. I hope that this is a trend we will continue to see more of at community events.