Commit 29548772 authored by Eugen Rochko's avatar Eugen Rochko

Update content/posts/2018-12-30_Why-does-decentralization-matter.md

parent 41f02ee1
Pipeline #434 passed with stages
in 18 seconds
......@@ -18,8 +18,8 @@ If you are Facebook, that's good for you. But if you are a user of Facebook... T
Decentralization is biodiversity of the digital world, the hallmark of a healthy ecosystem. A network such as Mastodon and the fediverse form allows different user interfaces, different software, different forms of government to co-exist and cooperate, and when some disaster strikes, some will be more adapted to it than others, and survive what a monoculture wouldn't. You don't have to think long for recent examples, take for example the FOSTA/SESTA bill passed in the US, which turned out to be awful for sex workers, and which affected literally every mainstream social network because they are all based in the US. In Germany, sex work is legal, so why should sex workers in Germany be unable to participate in social media?
One of the other things a decentralized network is more resilient to is censorship, and I do mean the real kind, not the "they won't let me post swastikas" kind. Some will claim that a large corporation can resist government requests better, but in practice, commercial companies struggle to resist government requests from markets where they want to operate their business (see e.g. Google's lackluster opposition to censhorship in China). Twitter regularly blocks Turkish activists on behalf of the Turkish government. The strength of a decentralized network here is in numbers--some will be blocked, some will comply, but not all, and creating new servers is easy.
One of the other things a decentralized network is more resilient to is censorship, and I do mean the real kind, not the "they won't let me post swastikas" kind. Some will claim that a large corporation can resist government requests better. But in practice, commercial companies struggle to resist government requests from markets where they want to operate their business. See for example Google's lackluster opposition to censorship in China and Twitter's regular blocks of Turkish activists. The strength of a decentralized network here is in numbers--some servers will be blocked, some will comply, but not all. And creating new servers is easy.
Last but not least, decentralization is about fixing power assymetry. A centralized social media platform has a hierarchical structure where rules and their enforcement, the development and direction of the platform are decided by the CEO, board of governors, and CTO, with the users having close to no options of disagreeing. You can't walk away when the platform holds all your friends, contacts and audience. A decentralized network deliberately relinquishes control of the platform owner by, essentially, not having one. For example I, as the developer of Mastodon, have only an advisory influence: I can develop new features and publish new releases, but cannot force anyone to upgrade to them if they don't want to; have no control over any Mastodon server except my own no more than I have control over any other website on the internet. That means the network is not subject to my whims, it can adapt to situations faster than I, and serve use cases I couldn't have predicted.
Last but not least, decentralization is about fixing power asymmetry. A centralized social media platform has a hierarchical structure where rules and their enforcement, the development and direction of the platform are decided by the CEO, board of governors, and CTO, with the users having close to no options of disagreeing. You can't walk away when the platform holds all your friends, contacts and audience. A decentralized network deliberately relinquishes control of the platform owner by, essentially, not having one. For example I, as the developer of Mastodon, have only an advisory influence: I can develop new features and publish new releases, but cannot force anyone to upgrade to them if they don't want to; have no control over any Mastodon server except my own no more than I have control over any other website on the internet. That means the network is not subject to my whims, it can adapt to situations faster than I, and serve use cases I couldn't have predicted.
Any alternative social network that rejects decentralization will ultimately struggle with these issues, and if it won't perish like those that tried and failed before it, it will simply become that which it was meant to replace.
\ No newline at end of file
Any alternative social network that rejects decentralization will ultimately struggle with these issues. And if it won't perish like those that tried and failed before it, it will simply become that which it was meant to replace.
\ No newline at end of file
Markdown is supported
0% or
You are about to add 0 people to the discussion. Proceed with caution.
Finish editing this message first!
Please register or to comment