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Blockchain with background music | Bangkok Post: news

Pranitan Phornprapha speaks at the Wonderfruit Eco Pavilion.

Like electronic, hip hop and rock blast coming from speakers competing in all directions, about a dozen festival goers gather under dozens of red umbrellas in a semicircle to hear a talk on the blockchain.

This idiosyncratic scene is what makes Wonderfruit, the four-day show last week outside of Pattaya, so different from other music festivals. In addition to traditional offers of music, alcohol and hippy-chic aesthetics, the festival offers seminars on technology, sustainability and awareness to fascinate young people around the world.

These types of talks and discussions take place continuously in Bangkok, but are rarely attended by an audience of occasional non-experts or non-affiliated with the specific field.

"Blockchain is such an insular community and it's hard to get out of that bubble," said Ashoka Finley, ConsenSys engineer, a software company that finds ways to use blockchain technology for social change.

The layout of the Wonderfruit festival, which aims to offer technology, sustainability and awareness.

Mr. Finley gave a talk on the blockchain with fellow ConsenSys to an experienced and committed crowd at the "Eco Pavilion," one of the many strenuously constructed stages of the event, built exclusively for Wonderfruit in the sprawling fields of the Siam Country Club.

"It's important to make these things accessible to young people," he said. "Blockchain can be such a naval look, you need more conversations in spaces that are not focused on the blockchain."

The stage was filled over the weekend with conferences from activists to visionaries in the technology sector, from topics ranging from urban agriculture to biotechnology, to decentralized waste solutions to simple self-seeking. Lance Diaresco, director of the brand and creative solutions at Google, organized a meditation seminar, encouraging the public to face their fears by anthropomorphing and talking to them.

Perhaps one of the most important speakers of the event, Constant Tedder, co-founder of Jagex, the creator of the hugely successful online game Runescape, and CEO of Hive, a co-working company with offices across the board. ; Asia, with two in Bangkok. He said he was surprised by the big crowd, who came to see him talk about the environment, abandoning the most selfish delights offered by the music festival.

"Festivals have an important role to play in encouraging change and creating dialogue," he said. "Where else happens in physical spaces in addition to parties".

He used Wonderfruit as an opportunity to speak for the first time of his next project, Earth.org, a work-in-progress initiative to track the effects of climate change and environmental destruction caused by man through satellite images. The project aims to one day become an open source data base that tracks the loss of flora and fauna throughout the world.

"We are still in the pre-launch phase, but we thought this was a friendly forum to start talking about it and fine-tune the language surrounding the project," he said.

In addition to enrichment, these speeches provided a living space to enter the shadows and out of the brutal heat, before the sun set and the seven or more musical stages were filled with dancers.

"If I dedicate my time to a music festival, I want an experience that includes many factors such as art, culture and learning," said Melissa Carpio, 37, of the United States who they participated in some of the Saturday talks. "I've never seen an education emphasized to this extent in any of the other great festivals."

Despite the uniqueness of Wonderfruit, it is hard not to compare the festival to Burning Man, the annual desert, hippie, art festival in the United States, which has not only become a popular institution, but it has also generated an alternative lifestyle brand.

In recent years Burning Man has become a central hub for the Silicon Valley elite – in contrast to its free and egalitarian values ​​- with shows such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg coming down from his helicopter to distribute cheeseburgers to the participants.

Wonderfruit has a similar mix of hippies, warmth and technology, although Wonderfruit's co-founder, Pranitan Phornprapha, stood up to the idea that his festival would become a gathering place for the region's technological elites.

"People from Silicon Valley gravitate around Burning Man because it's near," Pranitan said. "Thailand is not the technological center of the world, we are a country of farmers and artisans, so we have to work with what we have".

Yet the festival continues to bring technology to the fore. Wonderfruit has its smartphone app with an interactive map and a program. In previous years, blockchain technology was used to plant trees in order to offset the festival's environmental costs. The entire event is cashless, with participants charging money on a bracelet that can be scanned for food and drink.

Pranitan, scion of one of Thailand's most wealthy families and a full-fledged business man, offers a more practical approach to creating an ecologically sustainable show.

"Many people think that being sustainable means being a hippie," he said. "But you can have a business plan and an appropriate structure for this."

Wonderfruit takes its sustainability seriously and has an external organization, Thailand Greenhouse, which controls the festival. The organization collects and marks any negative impact caused by the festival, so it gives them a rating. The organizers then plant a certain amount of trees to compensate for their ecological footprint.

"Frankly, I'm not interested in doing a music festival," said Pranitan. "What we are really interested in is the creation of environmental contents that are stimulating, have a purpose, are subtle but also fun".

He said that his goal for the festival was to convert 95% of the people who came to a festival and did not care, and push them to change the environment or make the world a better place, even if they just want to party. He hopes to live in this alternative universe for a weekend, this place and structure will convince the apathetic to worry.

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