Categories: Bitcoin Entertainment

Building Latvia’s BTC Community: CoinTelegraph Hosts the October Riga Bitcoin Meetup

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Building Latvia’s BTC Community: CoinTelegraph Hosts the October Riga Bitcoin Meetup

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On October 16, CoinTelegraph hosted this month’s event of the Riga Bitcoin Meetup group at our head office.

Turnout exceeded CoinTelegraph’s expectations (translation: we ran out of chairs), but the coziness facilitated some lively discussions about recent news, the best location for a BTM in Riga, and a couple of talks presented by locals.

Up first was Yuri Filipov, who writes at Coinside.ru [RU]. Filipov spoke about privacy and anonymization within the Bitcoin network and within other cryptocurrency networks.

After Filipov was local writer Eric Barrier, who spoke about the evolving dynamics in the relationship among reporters, their sources and their readers.

“Consider reporters’ biases,” he said. “There are no reporters in Bitcoin or crypto or any of this kind of technology who are not personally interested in it. That’s just the nature of Bitcoin media coverage. For one, the learning curve is too deep — a newspaper can’t just pull its hockey writer and say, ‘Go cover Bitcoin now.’

“This means we are prone to advocacy. We get excited about good news, and we boo the Mt. Goxes and the Butterfly Labs of the world. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

Bitcoin in Latvia

Building Latvia’s BTC Community: CoinTelegraph Hosts the October Riga Bitcoin Meetup

Bitcoin has been slow to catch on in Latvia, as we have reported previously. National air carrier airBaltic accepts payment in bitcoins, as does local Riga bar SPOT Kafe.

Members of the Riga Bitcoin Meetup are keen to accelerate adoption of the currency locally.

“We are beginning the story of Bitcoin,” Riga Bitcoin Meetup organizer Rihards Gailums said, though he could have been speaking as much about Latvia as he was about the currency itself. “It’s the trial for how to make cryptocurrencies work.”

Gailums is currently working to call together a community of tech experts in Latvia. In his role as chairman of the board at the Riga High Tech University Foundation, he is trying to discover what kind of demand there is locally for education in things such as cryptography, entrepreneurship and engineering disruptive technology.

His plan is to establish an internationally focused, accredited private university in Riga that would teach these skills. Gailums began to organize meetups in 2014 to bring together anyone in Latvia who can contribute — the other meetups he organizes focus on UX design and 3D printing.

It’s a challenge, he said, to organize enthusiasts in these different fields, though. “Those potential students are living in different domains.”

Thus, he would like to merge these interests and capitalize on the native tech knowledge among Latvia’s workforce, which currently goes to support other industries — forex, online gaming, outsourced business processes — with strong local presences.

By switching the focus to more cutting-edge technology and its applications, Gailums hopes Latvia can cultivate a national image that would put it at least on par with neighboring Estonia, which does a better job of attracting talent and startups.

“Our student is a startuper who can create something,” Gailums said. His hope is that students could graduate a program at Riga High Tech University with the skills necessary to start up a tech company immediately.

But first, he needs professors, preferably Bitcoin veterans with higher education credentials who can teach students the fundamentals of the technology as well as the business side of things.

Those people are obviously not so easy to find, and Gailums worries about both public and state perception of a private, not-for-profit university — that is not a popular model for institutes of higher learning in Latvia.

The flip side of those concerns would be having an accredited program could change the perception of Bitcoin itself locally.

In Latvia, then, there is a bit of a chicken/egg problem with popular Bitcoin adoption and understanding. However, Gailums believes an influx of international knowledge, expertise and talent could turn that around.

Anyone interested in helping him build an education platform can go to Riga High Tech University’s website. Classes the schools hopes to teach will touch on cryptocurrencies, mobile app development, tech entrepreneurship, and various other topics.

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G+2Pinterest reddit Upvote Downvote submit inShare 2 On October 16, CoinTelegraph hosted this month’s event of the Riga Bitcoin Meetup group at our head office. Turnout exceeded CoinTelegraph’s expectations (translation: we ran out of chairs), but the coziness facilitated some lively discussions about recent news, the best location for a BTM in Riga, and a couple of talks presented by locals.Up […]

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