The Future is About to be Decentralized

I’m currently at the BTS 2020 as a featured speaker. Yesterday, I delivered a talk about social media and user data. Is it a silver bullet or hot potato?

Almost two years into building Peer Social, and speaking to numerous technologists and academics about my vision, I’ve discovered that decentralization is about to get big, very big. So big, it’s about to become our way of life.

What is decentralization? I’ve spoken about it before. To reiterate, according to Wikipedia:

Decentralization is the process by which the activities of an organization, particularly those regarding planning and decision-making, are distributed or delegated away from a central, authoritative location or group

Those are a lot of buzzwords, so let me give you an analogy. Decentralization is like a bazaar. Kind of. You walk in, see a whole lot of hustle and bustle, with diverse merchants and clientele in the midst of bargaining. Though the atmosphere seems chaotic, everything works — this is capitalism at work. Its approach is massively different from big box retailers, but a bazaar has its own logic.

What makes decentralization work

A bazaar may not seem like it has much organization, but it does. Instead of abiding by a hierarchy of a typical Fortune 500, its planning and decision-making are distributed across the bazaar. What makes the bazaar work is implicit relationships of trust, that everyone who participates in the bazaar will respect the space, that this is a place where business happens.

Like a bazaar, decentralization at first seems chaotic but it’s not. Decentralization does not abide by a hierarchy. Planning and decision making are therefore distributed across multiple parties.

Unlike a bazaar, however, decentralization does not require relationships of trust to be implicit. Instead, trust is explicit. What makes trust explicit is that a transactional ledger, which is itself decentralized, makes a record of relationships’ nature.

After all, business — at its core — is about relationships. All the better that they be explicit.

Decentralization is coming

The future of business, technology, and relationships will be decentralized. In many ways, it already is. Yes, blockchain taking the business world by storm but social networks are discovering that centralization has a limit to how much it can scale.

Twitter has made that apparent.

Jack Dorsey

This is a paradigm shift. What decentralization means is that all parties, no matter their intent, will have full control over their own data. No governing authority, no hierarchy will need to verify your identity. That will be made explicit through explicit relationships of trust.

Finance already is in the process of decentralization. Business processes will soon follow suit. Very soon, our social networks will also be decentralized.

It will all resemble a bazaar, but better.