A Missing Piece
April 4, 2022
There is something off with the web. Even though it makes information abundant - Infinite copies and variants of information are moving and replicating with little to no cost. Even though the web treats information equally. No information on the internet is inherently at a higher rank than other data. Troves of unorganized information are moving equally and freely. What can possibly be wrong with that?
Information abundance is a good thing because people want access to information and now they have it. But for humans to squeeze the most value out of abundant information there must also be filtering, since only a tiny (relatively speaking) bit (figuratively speaking) of information can be absorbed by humans. Immediately when you start ranking information you still have abundant information, but you also have scarcity, because there is only limited space at the top of the ranking, which is where the scarcity occurs. Scarcity is necessary. Usually, a by-product of creating this scarcity on the web, a place built with decentralization in mind, is centralization.
Google, of course, has built a layer to index information on the web. Google does filtering dictatorially through its proprietary algorithm. Reddit and Twitter do so democratically by giving everyone the ability to participate (at least partially) in the ranking. Both systems are nevertheless centralized. Even democratic systems exist only in centralized form, within their own silos.
All different kinds of information that is transferred on the internet are organized and made manageable, scarce, through centralization. Information that someone close to you is willing to drive you somewhere is published and managed through Uber. Information that someone on the other side of the world is willing to do work for you is published on Fiverr. The five-star rating systems manage the scarce attention of the consumer. Similarly, Twitter-likes and Reddit-karma manage scarcity and increase the usefulness of their own product, but none of these are usable outside of their own silos, and thus centralized. The user is stuck. Reddit, Twitter, Uber and Fiverr are in charge of organizing and ranking the information. The consequence is that when Fiverr goes bankrupt, the ratings are useless.
We got stuck with decentralized information organized through centralized scarcity because that was all that internet technology seemed to allow for. Scarcity, a necessity for making sense of it all, came only with centralized silos.
We now know that it is also possible to create a decentralized system on the web to manage scarcity. With blockchain technology, nothing stops there from being an alternative uber app where drivers can take their five-star reviews, thank you very much, and leave. Drivers can plug those ratings into a competing service, without anyone doubting that those ratings are real.
Whatever you can't take with you when you want to leave, you don't own. That's why most things on the internet are not yours, even if it feels like it and you have spent a lot of time working to get them or paid money for them. The items have just locked you even more into the centralized product.
Giggers, Unite. Because one day, the technology that has forced you to stay within one solution will exist openly, as a decentralized protocol, that you can leave as you wish. Even if the application is still centralized, the most important thing, the data, can be decentralized. You can take it with you as you wish. You truly own it.