This interview makes very interesting reading as Prodromos first really started getting interested in the blockchain after working out the ways that the technology could improve the lives of lawyers immeasurably.
Coin Central write…
As the Executive Director of the non-profit Chicago Blockchain Center (CBC), Alexandra works closely with both the private and public sectors to grow and support the blockchain community in Illinois. From hosting meetups and student developer workshops to fighting against misinformation in mainstream media, the CBC is doing it all.
Other than her work at the CBC, Alexandra is also a Research and Market Strategist at Bloq, Inc and is earning her Master’s Degree in Information Systems at Northwestern University.
Coin Central’s Steven Buchko recently had the opportunity to steal a few minutes out of one of Alexandra’s jam-packed days to learn more about the CBC and her jump into cryptocurrency.
SB: How did you first get involved with blockchain technology and cryptocurrency?
AP: It’s a weird story, actually. I’m not a developer, although I am currently doing a Masters at Northwestern in Information Systems. It includes database administration and some coding as well, but that’s not my background.
My undergrad degree was in Political Science, and I wanted to go to law school. I was particularly interested in technologies that I thought could change or disrupt the legal space – automated discovery, for example. I was interested in how searching for keywords in thousands of pages of legal documents would change how lawyers would be billed or find precedent.
Around 2014, I heard about smart contracts. My immediate thought was, “How can these be applicable to legal contracts?” I started learning more about them independently and eventually discovered blockchain technology as a whole. Once I did, I realized that the technology expands beyond the legal space. I knew it was going to affect every industry.
This [blockchain] is similar to the foundational level of the internet – a secure method to transfer value that will affect the business processes of every industry going forward.
Once I realized that, I became infatuated. I constantly researched the topic, which at that time was mostly going through Reddit feeds and Twitter, and I read a few books on it. One of the first books I read was the Age of Cryptocurrency by Michael Casey and Paul Vigna. Both are contributors to the Wall Street Journal, and I thought they did a great job of explaining the crypto aspects I hadn’t been as involved in.
On top of that, I started going to conferences and meetups, trying to meet as many people as I could.
As a college graduation gift, my parents got me a ticket to the Consensus conference in New York. I heard people like Matthew Roszak talk, and I even met Vitalik Buterin briefly. He’s only around a month older than me, and I couldn’t believe he had done all that he had at that time.
It was at that conference that I heard the governor of Delaware present their Delaware Blockchain Initiative.
I thought to myself, “ Why can’t Chicago be a hub for blockchain? In terms of startup growth, it’s a more livable space than San Francisco or New York.”
I envisioned that we could work with the [Illinois] government to create less onerous legislation and regulation than what existed in New York. The New York BitLicense is infamous now.
I thought it was a great opportunity, so I put together a proposal and approached the newly created Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology. I ended up working with them on a blockchain workgroup as the only non-government participant. With the help of many other agencies, we created the Illinois Blockchain Initiative (IBI).
From there, I continued to go to conferences. About a year and a half ago, I met Matthew Roszak at one of the conferences, and he brought me onto Bloq. Since June, I’ve been heavily involved with the Chicago Blockchain Center carrying out the third prong of the Illinois Blockchain Initiative – ecosystem development in Chicago.
This involves creating the physical space for meetups, highlighting specific startups, and providing educational resources. The educational resources aren’t just for individuals, though. They’re also for specific industry entities that want to learn more about the technologies.
We’re working to combat a lot of the misleading reporting on the topic. Now that Bitcoin’s been thrust much more into the mainstream, our organization is more important than ever.
Read the rest of the interview at https://coincentral.com/meet-alexandra-prodromos-chicago-blockchain-center-executive-director/