The place looks like a cypherpunk’s wet dream. A darkened concrete edifice of a former sugar factory located on the outskirts of the Dutch city of Groningen gives a dramatic depth of field to the fluorescent lighting streaming across a hall the size of a football pitch. Groups of hackers huddle around dozens of tables. This is the Odyssey Hackathon, the biggest in the world.
The reason why hundreds of hackers from 29 different countries have travelled to Groningen is clear and unambiguous: code a new reality. This is not an event about cryptocurrencies or the speculative nature of projects relating to blockchain technology. The teams exhibit almost a feverish hunger to make manifest the theoretical concepts surrounding the blockchain to develop decentralized ledger technologies that can change the world. Whether it be in the field of data privacy or using the immutability of the blockchain as a source of provenance, each team is striving to achieve something that makes a difference in the real world.