What decentralization is good for (part 3): growth

Picking up the series on which decentralization is great for (part 1component two ), today I would like to concentrate on one of the most exciting features of decentralization: expansion. 

In cases like this, when I say”decentralized”, what I actually mean is”open and non-proprietary”. 

Ok, so why are open, decentralized systems especially great for growth? When a tech is open (anyone can use, extend, alter, build on) and decentralized (no 1 party or business is in full control), it has the potential to spread like wildfire, for precisely those reasons. Since it’s free to use without limitation, permissionless invention is possible — meaning anyone who feels like it can pick it up and operate. And since open, decentralized systems decrease platform risk, programmers can feel comfortable building on them with less of a danger of getting the rug pulled out from under them.

Everyone knows that it is safe to assemble to the Bluetooth standard without stage risk. And what that means is that anybody, regardless of what company they’re with, or what country they reside in, has the capacity to grow the stage. This sort of omni-directional growth is truly only possible with open, un-owned, decentralized technologies. 

Quite often, though, a single firm drives the growth of those open, un-owned, decentralized technologies. By way of instance, the General Transit Feed Specification is on open data format which powers the majority of the public transit industry.  As I have written about before, this standard came to market in large part due to Google’s first efforts, and was subsequently adopted and developed by a large community of other people (including our job at OpenPlans back in 2009-2012). Or, to go further back, we can examine the function that Mozilla/Firefox played in bringing modern web standards (includuing Cascading Style Sheets) to advertise. Or to now, and Apple’s and Google’s role in bringing USB-C to advertise (of course, Apple doesn’t have the best track record on this subject ). The point is, it can be challenging for open, nonproprietary, decentralized technology to take off — they want some type of catapult. Historically that has come from businesses with some self-interest — that has been a fantastic thing (generally speaking).

Today, along with businesses driving open technologies, we’ve got the capacity to use cryptocurrencies to induce first adoption. It does not work every time — and we will without doubt continue to see a parade of flameouts — but if it does work, it has the capacity to operate in a gigantic, exceedingly rapid, and international way.

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