Spreading the Gospel of Decentralization

There’s a growing community forming around decentralization. Every day, more and more citizens of the internet are realizing that something is very wrong with the way it has consolidated. They see how this level of centralization spills over into society, they see how it has dire consequences for our way of life, and they are coming to the conclusion that something needs to be done.

Some of these internet citizens are developers who are building decentralized applications in order to make decentralization a reality. Others are technology early adopters who see the promise of a decentralized future and spread the gospel.

Unfortunately, however, the cult of decentralization is still fairly niche. It’s safe to say that mainstream consumers at large do not know exactly what decentralization means or why they should care.

The way that this can change, though, is for decentralization to be communicated more effectively and for people to see how it can meaningfully impact their lives.

It’s important to recognize that decentralization is a property of a system that is not beneficial per se. Rather, it is the derivative properties of decentralization that are beneficial — properties like innovation, inclusion, independence, and information security (the 4 I’s of decentralization). All of these properties have a meaningful impact on people’s lives, and it is these properties that should be focused on when spreading the gospel of decentralization to consumers. One must sell the benefits of decentralization just like one must sell the benefits of democracy or free trade.

People care about innovation. They know that it means progress, it allows economies to grow, and it creates jobs for them and people they know.

People care about inclusion. When more people can participate in an economy and sell their goods and services to others, there’s more economic equality, a stronger middle class, and a stronger economy.

People care about independence. It is a natural human desire to want to be free from the control of others. It means that they can do what they want, when they want, and it means that they can have a greater level of control over their destiny.

People care about information security. They regularly hear about data breaches in the news and about companies mismanaging their information. They worry about mass identity theft and about getting targeted and hacked. And they worry that in the future they won’t be safe if something is not done soon.

Innovation, inclusion, independence, and information security — all four of these concepts are foundations for stories that can be told about why decentralization is important and why people should care.

As we focus more on the real impact that decentralization has on people’s daily lives, we will see decentralization gaining more and more steam and reaching a wider audience.

That said, the story behind decentralization needs to have substance to back it up. We can sell people on the benefits of decentralization but they need to experience the benefits as well. In order for decentralization to become a household name, just like democracy is today, people need to have a taste of decentralization. They need to use decentralized applications on a daily basis and they need to recognize that what makes them better than traditional applications is the fact that they are decentralized.

We need to remind people that the internet is so great because it is an open, global network that nobody controls. We need to remind people that email, perhaps the most widely used decentralized application, is so pervasive and so versatile simply because it is decentralized and interoperable and free. We need to show people the possibilities that await with decentralized applications like Bitcoin and OpenBazaar. We need to show people how all the applications they use could be rebuilt on platforms like Blockstack and could allow them to be fully in control of their data, their identities, their software, and their lives.

This is how we get people to care about decentralization and clear the way for the gospel of decentralization to reach the mainstream. Let’s get started.