On Thursday 5th March, Head of Communications Lucy Lovegrove and business intelligence analyst Johnathan Ross had the opportunity to represent The Loki Foundation at Crypto and Blockchain 2020 and Beyond, a crypto and blockchain fundraiser in Melbourne. The event was organised by Blockchain Australia, who invited The Loki Foundation to showcase Session, our newly-launched blockchain-based messaging platform.
“The Loki founders met at a Melbourne blockchain meetup similar to this one, and there’s something so powerful about people in the community coming together in an offline, physical space like this,” Lucy said.
The 2020 Crypto and Blockchain event’s focus was on increasing awareness for the Crypto Fire Alliance, a crypto community initiative which is raising funds for the people affected by the devastating 2019-2020 Australian bushfires. So far, the Crypto Fire Alliance has raised more than AU$20,000 in cryptocurrency towards bushfire recovery efforts. Donations at the door of the Crypto and Blockchain event all contributed directly towards the Crypto Fire Alliance fundraising efforts.
“We have a long-standing relationship with Finder, which manages the funds for the Crypto Fire Alliance. We were given this great opportunity to present at the event, and we were so honored to be invited,” Johnathan said.
There was a healthy turnout at the event, with more than 50 people in attendance — a great sign of Melbourne’s thriving crypto and blockchain tech community. Many attendees were already aware of The Loki Foundation and our privacy tool offerings, and the meetup gave us a great opportunity to tell everyone about Session’s launch.
Lucy and Johnathan’s Session presentation had audience members downloading the app, asking questions, and even jumping out of their seats with an interactive demo of Session’s QR code contact-request functionality.
“We did a walk-through demo of Session, encouraging people to download it and walk through with us, and we had a speed prize — the first person to DM Jimmy on Session by scanning a QR code on the projector won some Session merch. It was great, it built a lot of energy in the room and people were having fun and participating!” Lucy explained.
With it being International Women’s Week, it would be remiss of us to ignore the fact that the blockchain industry remains mostly male-dominated. We were therefore very proud to have Lucy Lovegrove presenting on behalf of The Loki Foundation to the local Melbourne crowd as our fearless female leader, and to contribute to changing this lack of gender diversity. Diversity in blockchain is improving, albeit slowly. Lucy was encouraged to present by Karen Cohen (@blockmum), a mentor and prominent figure in the Melbourne blockchain community. Karen is a lead organiser of the Women in Blockchain events series, which encourages female involvement in the community.
“I was apprehensive at first but with Karen’s help and encouragement, it turned out to be a really positive experience,” said Lucy.
“I would definitely feel confident speaking on behalf at any event for Loki and Session in future.”
The Loki Foundation hopes to continue our work with both Blockchain Australia and the Crypto Fire Alliance to support our local blockchain community and the ongoing Australian bushfire recovery efforts.
On the same night, Loki founder and CMO Josh Jessop-Smith was invited onto local radio show Byte Into It (part of the Triple R 102.7 FM network) to talk about all things digital privacy, as well as the Session launch and the app itself.
As a ‘home-grown’ Australian blockchain project, the Loki Foundation is always eager to share our accomplishments with fellow Aussies first, especially with recent legislation such as the Assistance and Access bill raising questions over the future of privacy tech in Australia.
“JOSH: That was actually a major hit for tech and innovation here in Australia. It’s a question we still get to this day, “Well, how can you trust this Australian project when they’re trying to put backdoors into everything?” But this is one of those things that [the Loki Foundation’s commitment to] open source really mitigates, because if there are any backdoors to be placed, anyone can see it. You can look [into our code] and see if there’s some funny business going on.”
Hosted by technology commentator and broadcaster Vanessa Toholka, Byte Into It is a weekly look at what’s happening in tech, followed by a lively discussion where hosts and guests share their opinions. With a tech-minded audience who are curious about privacy, we knew Byte Into It listeners would be keen to hear our thoughts. As Josh aptly pointed out in his interview, there is no ‘perfect privacy’ online:
“JOSH: You can try to attain perfection […] but it’s this kind of cat and mouse game where someone will come up with a solution that works really well and people who want to break that will find a way […]. You continually create this chase situation where you try and outdo the other person.”
As Vanessa and Josh went on to discuss, we often don’t think about how much we tie back to our mobile numbers — which change a lot less than our home addresses or email addresses. So when private messengers such as Signal promise privacy but then prompt us to tie our phone number to them, Josh states these practices are “antithetical” to the stated mission of such apps. Even so, we are fairly safe when it comes to Australia — for now. That’s why Session is a ‘global project’ — we exist for people in countries who are under ‘harsh surveillance and harsh restrictions’.
“JOSH: We’ve been looking into ways where you can completely circumvent a shutdown, like even if there was an internet shut down – you’d still be able to utilise apps like Session.”
Josh further encouraged every listener to get involved with Session — not just to download and use the app, but to give their feedback, as the privacy needs of every user are constantly changing.
“JOSH: Oh, 100% they should get involved. I mean, the cool thing about open source projects is anyone can get involved and that’s where the power really lies. Everyone and anyone can get involved.”
Even their mums.
“JOSH: The first person I got on it was my mum.
VANESSA: They’re fantastic test subjects!
JOSH: They really are.
VANESSA: Mine’s a bit too advanced though, being a data scientist.
JOSH: Oh, mine’s interesting. The first message I got from her was, ‘Great! Now we can talk without the government spying on us!’”
You can now listen to the full episode of Byte Into It, featuring our CMO and founder Josh Jessop-Smith, and also hear from Kati Elizabeth at GLUCK — the Chrome extension exposing climate deniers.
Please consider donating to the Crypto Fire Alliance to support both the ongoing Australian bushfire recovery efforts and the Australian crypto and blockchain community.