Cleveland to Blockland?

By Shana Black

Sponsored post- Thanks to Blockland Cleveland for provide us with tickets to attend this conference

LinkedIn, Twitter, Crain’s Cleveland Business, and all over the local news, stories about this thing call Blockchain have been flooding timelines and feeds all over Cleveland.  Why? Because Cleveland is looking to become the hub for Blockchain technology and innovation. Looking to be proactive as opposed to having change forced upon me I decided and committed to learning about and understanding Blockchain

First things first- the FAQs

  • What is Blockchain? Short answer...It’s a technology that is geared towards moving from centralized data keeping to having smaller pieces of data stored on multiple “blocks” connected, by digital code called “chains” across multiple places. The idea is that no 1 place would have all of our information in case of hacks or data breaches.

    Read Denise’s post So What is Blockchain?

  • Do I HAVE to understand how it works? Not really but you will encounter and use it.  I’ve been explaining it as, I don’t understand all the technology behind Facebook or how apps are coded to work but I use the technology every day.

    Also, many jobs, careers, and industries will begin to use new software or implement new procedures because of blockchain technology.  I think it’s safe to say we can all expect to be sitting in training and having to learn new software in the future.

  • Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, blockchain..are they all the same thing? No.  Bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency (like a dollar or nickel), there are other cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency uses and is build with blockchain technology

  • What does being a blockchain hub mean to Clevelanders? Cleveland is looking to be the home of blockchain based and blockchain developing businesses.  That may mean attracting talent and developers from outside of Cleveland but that also means that there are opportunities for Clevelanders to begin tech startups.  Either way, the city is hoping that in creating an “ecosystem” for blockchain businesses there will be more job opportunities for Clevelanders.

  • Is cryptocurrency money? Yes, and it can be turned into “regular” money if you desire to do so. Most people prefer to spend and transact the money digitally. Think Paypal or CashApp-ing without connecting or depositing into a bank account, or on a credit card and instead using that balance to shop or pay for things.

  • What’s blockchain going to change?- Many things will look identical but it will change how we do business.  How we pay for things, buying a house or car, how we vote on things, and any agreements or contracts we currently sign. Eventually it will change how we apply for social services. It will also be able to pinpoint specific foods or the places and locations contaminated foods are or came from to recall instead of all of a food.

The Blockland Conference

The conference took place December 1st - 4th at the Huntington Convention Center. The first two days were filled with pre-conference with sessions for developers to learn how to code and build on different software. There was also a networking mixer and a VIP reception.

The full conference began on Monday the 3rd with an official kick off address from Bernie Moreno, the conference organizer, and a welcome from Mayor Jackson.  The conference featured over 150 speakers in 50+ session.

While there were over 50 sessions at the conference the sessions, the sessions that I found the most helpful here and impactful to me were;

  • Blockchain 101- This session had so many people interested that it had to have another session added and be moved to a bigger room.  The presenter used helpful graphics and was able to connect the abstract concept to current examples to help us understand. While the session was called Blockchain 101 I was excited to be understanding some things but realized I needed a Blockchain 099 or lower session.

  • Block and Rock- As someone who loves music, and produces a podcast and events about music I can attest to the jumbled red tape of citing, talking about and using music in public spaces.  In this session, we heard from an artist and Greg Harris from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on how blockchain can help with copyrights and making sure artist and all the people that are part of making music are acknowledged and paid.  This is where I learned about the local company called Votem a blockchain-based company that is helping with the Rock Hall induction fan vote.

  • Accepting Crypto at the Counter- Waverly Willis from Urban Kutz Barbershop and Joshua Holmes explained why they accept cryptocurrencies and how easy it is to accept for small businesses.  I left this session energized and full of ideas.

  • The fireside chat with John Donovan from AT&T -John Donovan spoke to how to go about a lot of things including 4G connection speeds, being able to watch TV with personalized ads and understanding blockchain. His words of encouragement were to “change your mindset” and don't get discouraged in learning about blockchain. He added, “It’s okay if you don't understand what’s being said, eventually, you will catch up. ...Don’t opt out by saying I’m not a tech person.”

Personal Growth after Blockland Cleveland

As a newbie and someone who would have said I’m not a tech person (no longer saying that),  I can say that I did learn a lot about blockchain, how it will affect us as citizens, cryptocurrency and a few things about Cleveland that I didn’t know. Plus I met so many cool people from all over the US and Canada.

 A little in-between session photo op

A little in-between session photo op

 Maybe one day I’ll understand enough about Blockchain to speak at the conference…LOL...It could happen

Maybe one day I’ll understand enough about Blockchain to speak at the conference…LOL...It could happen

As a result of attending, I now have a digital wallet with cryptocurrency in it.  It’s only a couple of dollars but its a start. I am also an investor in cryptocurrency, again I took baby steps I’m not sitting on thousands of dollars of Bitcoin or anything but maybe one day.

I understand how we are moving from having our info and data stored in one centralized and hackable place to decentralize network. Blockchain is said to be un-hackable and will only have pieces of info stored on each block. So in order to have all of your info at risk, multiple blocks across multiple computers, across various chains happening all at the same time would have to be attacked to get your info. Think about all the data and files we have stored in the cloud, the news stories and emails we get that one company was hacked and now your info is at risk)

I am also able to understand, see opportunities to create projects or initiatives to help my friends and clients that have small businesses. I truly believe that if we as a community begin to embrace this technology and other incentives earlier we’ll be able to access support and monies that will make it easier to grow our locally-owned, women-owned, and black-owned businesses more independently which in turn will strengthen our communities.


How can I learn more?


There are lot of YouTube videos, books are articles about blockchain out there. Here are a few resources to get you started.

In closing, the biggest thing that I learned by attending Blockland Cleveland is to not let my words and thoughts sacrifice my seat at the table.  As expected the majority of the attendees were white and there were more men than women. Words like diversity or People of Color were used to speak on including more white women or people of Asia, or Indian descent.

We are still in the early stages of Cleveland becoming Blockland and Blockchain technology with many seats still available at the table.  I would hope that if you are reading this you consider how you can embrace, learn about or get a seat at the Blockchain table.

Was this helpful? Share below in the comments, what you have learned about Blockchain or resources you have found helpful to understand blockchain or cryptocurrency