Commit 8754013f authored by Eugen Rochko's avatar Eugen Rochko

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

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...@@ -13,6 +13,8 @@ Decentralization is biodiversity of the digital world, the hallmark of a healthy ...@@ -13,6 +13,8 @@ Decentralization is biodiversity of the digital world, the hallmark of a healthy
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 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.
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. 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.
But the good thing about a centralized platform, I hear, is that everything is in one place, so you don't have to search around! If you think about it though, is that really a good thing, or is that the reason that Mark Zuckerberg had to answer in front of the congress? Is that why a security breach affecting Facebook (or one of their "special relationships" with other companies) exposes private information of millions of people at the same time?
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 become that which it replaces. 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 become that which it replaces.
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