Bitcoin’s spirit animal is often referred to as the honey badger. This comparison was first popularized by Roger Ver, a Bitcoin evangelist turned Bitcoin Cash promoter, in 2013. Ver paid $1,500 a month to display a billboard in California that read, “Bitcoin is the Honey Badger of Money.” Since then, the honey badger has become a symbol for Bitcoin’s resilient and tenacious nature.
Although elusive, the honey badger occasionally makes appearances in memes and tweets. One event that draws Bitcoin enthusiasts is the annual hunt for the Baltic Honeybadger on the Baltic Coast of Europe. This gathering has become a favorite amongst the most ardent supporters of Bitcoin and its philosophy.
The Baltic Honeybadger conference, which began in 2017, is a significant event for Bitcoiners. It is held in Riga and is known for its focus on privacy, anti-surveillance, and cypherpunk principles. The conference features influential speakers like Andreas Antonopoulos and Elizabeth Stark, who are key figures in the Bitcoin community.
One of the highlights of the conference is the Cypherpunk Stage. This stage is strictly off-limits for cameras, recording devices, and live streams. Attendees are forbidden from sharing any media or photos from this stage. Security personnel, dubbed “Bitcoin Bears,” actively enforce this rule. This emphasis on privacy and secrecy creates an atmosphere conducive to open and honest discussions.
The conference attendees take privacy seriously, with many sporting badges indicating their preference to avoid photos. To further emphasize privacy-centric values, the conference goodie bag even includes a bandana. Attendees often inquire if others are “doxed,” meaning if their identity is shared or concealed online.
Freedom of speech is also a fundamental principle at the conference. Talks cover a range of Bitcoin-related topics, with speakers expressing their viewpoints openly. Rikki, a Bitcoin activist, compares Bitcoin in El Salvador to central bank digital currencies, exploring the impact of each on society. Giacomo Zucco, a Bitcoin educator, humorously differentiates between lower-intelligence Bitcoin advocates and “midwits” who struggle to understand the intricacies of the technology.
However, there are concerns that the Honeybadger’s unique charm may be under threat. Bitcoin conferences around the world are increasingly becoming social media spectacles, driven by mainstream interest and the rise of charismatic Bitcoin advocates. These conferences prioritize selfie opportunities and viral moments. Rigel Walshe of Swan Bitcoin jokingly compares Miami’s Bitcoin 2021 conference to a Christian rock festival, highlighting the stark contrast between the two events.
Unlike these larger conferences, Honeybadger maintains its focus on fostering open discussions. Bitcoin’s price is rarely the main topic of conversation, with only one panel touching on the subject. Instead, discussions revolve around macroeconomics and wider societal issues.
During the conference, various side events and activities capture attendees’ attention. Nostr, a decentralized protocol, hosts events and leads discussions. A Nostr Zaps party, funded via Bitcoin tips over Nostr, provides an environment for attendees to unwind. Additionally, a Chain Duel tournament, a social Bitcoin game, engages participants in friendly competition.
One prominent feature of Baltic Honeybadger is its integration of Lightning Network technology. Lightning-enabled interactions are woven throughout the conference. Food trucks and merchants accept Bitcoin and Lightning Network payments. Many attendees and merchants praise the ease and speed of Lightning transactions compared to traditional card payments.
Basement Bar, a popular hangout spot in Riga, further exemplifies Bitcoin’s integration into daily life. The bar accepts satoshis, the smallest denomination of Bitcoin, as a form of payment. This showcases the practicality and increasing adoption of Bitcoin for everyday transactions.
Despite its size, the Baltic Honeybadger conference embodies the core principles of Bitcoin and the cypherpunk movement. This event serves as a reminder that Bitcoin’s origins lie in the realm of privacy and anonymity. The conference’s focus on private discussions, preference for Lightning transactions, and the absence of headline-grabbing announcements distinguish it from larger Bitcoin conferences.
In conclusion, the Baltic Honeybadger conference represents the spirit and values of Bitcoin. It is a gathering where cypherpunk principles, privacy, and freedom of speech take precedence. The conference fosters open discussions about Bitcoin’s impact on society and promotes the adoption of Lightning Network technology. By embracing these principles, the Honeybadger conference remains true to Bitcoin’s disruptive and resilient nature.