Decentralisation update — January 2021

Photo by Pierre Borthiry via Unsplash

Every month I am aspiring to write about some of the recent developments concerning decentralisation. Here are some examples:

Internet and Social Media

It’s FOSS has an article about 9 decentralised alternatives to social media as Facebook and Twitter. Find out more about alternatives as Minds and Mastodon.

Hackernoon is publishing about The Nexus protocol, an architectural blueprint for building a decentralized and uncensorable internet. The new internet will be driven by a blockchain-based operating system (LX-OS) and communications protocol (Nexus Protocol), that a distributed satellite-based mesh network will connect.

Ruben Verbogh writes in “Power to the people: Re-decentralizing the Web, for good this time” that originally designed as a decentralised ecosystem, the Web has undergone a significant centralization in recent years. In order to regain control over our digital self, over the digital aspects of our lives, we need to understand how we arrived at this point and how we can get back on track. His article focuses on the history of decentralisation in the Web context and what can be done in the future.

Via TechCrunch, Lucas Matney is writing about “the Bluesky” project, aiming for decentralisation and building a “durable” web standard that will ultimately ensure that platforms like Twitter have less centralized responsibility in deciding which users and communities have a voice on the internet. Matney states that while this could protect speech from marginalized groups, it may also upend modern moderation techniques and efforts to prevent online radicalization.

Concerning web-decentralisation ideas. Valerian Benett writes via CoinDesk in relation to the “Capitol riots”, political violence in the USA interactions with social media as Twitter. Benett refers to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, for the need to “decentralize the web and take back power from the forces that have profited from centralizing it.” One of Benett’s main arguments is that government action against “tech giants”, however bold, will not solve the problem. Instead, people need to re-engineer the internet ourselves, rather than just relying on top-down help:

“Just as bitcoin redistributed power from the legacy financial system in favor of peer-to-peer electronic cash, the next-generation internet aims to redistribute power from corporate giants like Google and Facebook to sovereign individuals who own and control their own data.”

Decentralised applications (Dapps)

IEEE DAPPS 2021 conference is taking place this year 23–26 August.

The conference will be held as an online event and based on topics as:

  • Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT)
  • Smart contract theory
  • Languages and tools for (secure) dApps
  • Decentralized identity
  • Token Economy
  • Off-chain dApps
  • dApps/DLT/Blockchain governance
  • dApps/DLT/Blockchain interoperability
  • dApps/DLT/Blockchain security

The UK-based Algorand Foundation and Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering launched a competition for building decentralised applications on 11th January. This competition is open for teams up to six students who are studying at the Imperial College London. There is no restriction on the theme of the designed application, but in accordance with the competition rules, each theme has to include substantial use of the Algorand blockchain.

Energy

Interested in decentralised energy. Find out more via PEI about the recent projects.

A paper called “A novel decentralized platform for peer-to-peer energy trading market with blockchain technology”. The paper highlights aspects of a decentralized P2P energy trading platform composed of market and blockchain layers and a pool-structured market layer offering inter-temporal market products.

Health-care

How are things developing in the health-care sector? This article by Marie Mc Carthy states among other things that during 2021, the industry will witness the year of decentralisation, with the growing implementation of digital health technologies, in-home clinical services and remote monitoring across drug development programmes.

Researchers Peckham, Greener, Powell and Exworth write that their article examines the continuing debate about, and inter-relationship between, the National Health Service (UK:s NHS), decentralization and local participation.

Markets and economy

Decentralized Financial Market Infrastructures” has been published by Tom Swanson The Journal of FinTech. The paper states that over the past decade, advances in public-key cryptography, hash functions, virtualisation, distributed consensus, multiparty computation, and peer-to-peer networking have led to experimentation around record sharing between erstwhile competitive firms. With these developments, many of the services that centralised intermediaries currently provide could potentially be replaced by decentralised infrastructures or decentralised financial market infrastructure (dFMI).

KNOWLEDGE magazine has published the article “In Bad Times, Decentralised Firms Outperform Their Rivals” by Professors Aghinon and Laporte. They argue that when there’s increased turbulence, delegating power improves sales and productivity, boosting a firm’s chance of survival. Based on their paper, they recommend that governments implement pro-competition and pro-entry policies. In fact, any policy encouraging innovation and creative destruction can provide the right soil for decentralisation to take hold.

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