What does decentral...
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What does decentralization require?

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Larry Sanger
Posts: 51
Topic starter
Joined: 12 years ago

I propose that decentralization requires:

  1. a common, neutral protocol (prevents protocol centralization)
  2. multiple independent, competing clients (prevents client centralization)
  3. multiple, independent content aggregators, or direct connections between all leaf nodes (prevents architectural centralization)
  4. governance that, one way or another, makes it practically impossible to change the neutrality of the network (prevents governance centralization)
  5. user identities or "accounts" on the network that can be wholly independent or part of arbitrary different nodes, as they wish (prevents identity centralization)
  6. user data is owned by users individually (in most cases), or designated agents/inheritors, or perhaps no one at all (prevents data centralization)
  7. user follow lists are wholly controlled by the individual user (prevents social networking centralization)
  8. a certain ease of use (prevents geek centralization) 

I think many systems that boast of being decentralized are in fact decentralized in one one or a few of these senses, and simply ignore the rest.

They're all important. Every single one of them will either prevent the movement from happening or else will co-opt effective control of it, permitting censorship.

Anything else?

By the way, please feel free to start your own topics.

1 Reply
Posts: 1
New Member
Joined: 2 years ago

Thank you, Larry, for starting this forum.  

I think decentralization first requires a shift in values on the part of Americans.  For many decades, to all generations, the biggest companies in all markets have had an inherent charisma and perceived reliability.  People flock to the largest brand names because they are known to all, so that one can brag to others about already purchasing and using the brand name that their acquaintances have already been thinking of buying.  Such a purchase of the prestigious good or service also brings some prestige to the buyer in the minds of others, as opposed to the maverick who opts instead for something esoteric, and may later face ridicule in case of choosing a lemon, as judged in time.  That is, people have to learn or re-learn that these are okay: different, unusual, boutique, independent, and yes, definitely decentralized.

A second hurdle for decentralizers is very hard: to overcome monopolist's price-cutting ability and advantage.  Monopolists' use of this in competitive markets tends to mercilessly slay any competition.  Only competitive advantage can overcome this.