The Fractalization of Information and Power Structures
Reflections of data within ourselves.
If the 2016 United States Presidential Election Cycle or “Fake News” has demonstrated anything, it is that the current age of hypermedia is putting immense stress on our cultural systems. Black swan events are seemingly becoming the norm, as centralized organizations are able to shape stories and yield spectacle in powerful ways. Over relying on centralized data architectures enables for trust models that pave a path for censorship.
A movement is building to transition towards decentralized technologies and counteracts these dangerous forces of over-reliance. Romania and the D10e Conference in Bucharest are excited to be a part of this movement.
The world is full of data. Our phones generate data when we use apps and make calls. Our credit cards generate data when we make purchases. Our web browser generates ‘cookies’ when we browse the web, and these are even sold between third party advertisers. We put our data online, all the time, both knowingly and unknowingly.
Lots of effort goes into protecting your data and keeping it centralized. Server farms in places such as Eastern Washington are guarded and strategically placed, geographically. Data is what makes SnapChat worth #19+ Billion. SnapChat owns the data… information is essentially a form of internet real-estate. Employees are trained for days in places like St. Charles, Illinois, just so the gatekeepers of that data do everything they can to keep the information safe, secure, and in-house.
Simultaneously, we live in a world where power structures have been and continue to remain centralized. We bestow decision making authority to Representatives and Congressmen, rather than accessing the information and educating ourselves on each issue. We have bosses and CEOs who coordinate tasks, and banks hold the power to decide who to lend money to. Our power structures are, non-coincidentally, a reflection of our means of handling data.
Traditionally, this made a lot of sense. Information was stored centrally, in books, and housed in centralized libraries. Universities were the centers of knowledge. Radio, Newspapers and Television were the best means of spreading the news over long distances, and state capitals were placed in the center of most United States’ states so that the post office and citizens could access those areas more easily. Centralization was crucial; we hadn’t developed automated machinery yet to perform crucial tasks for us, nor did we have the computers or hardware to distribute information widely.
Thankfully, technology is driving an explosion of change, trending towards decentralized systems. Information does not have to be stored centrally on “Siren Servers”, ones where a singular authority can access that information and that only; instead, emerging solutions such as Ethereum are leveraging a distributed computing infrastructure (thousands of computers placed all around the world) to share the responsibility of monitoring the integrity of the information’s accuracy. All the while, the mathematics behind cryptography do the difficult work of keeping information safe.
Perhaps if our information systems become decentralized, and trust becomes decentralized with it, then we will all trust one another more.
We will be forced to, because we’ll know each other’s information in new and semi-cryptic ways. We won’t have to rely on organizations for our decision making needs, instead opting for the Code as Law model.
Decentralized information is the same as decentralized power — the two are parallels. More than this, because data itself is human produced and a reflection of our humanity, a shift in the technology used to manage data will inevitably affect the relationships between people and data and also between people and people.
The responsibilities in managing information are quite literally shaping our government, classrooms, and lives. The tie between information and data is so strong that they are actually a fractal of one another.
Here’s three cheers for Decentralization! Perhaps all-of-this, in the end, will really help lead to a more just, friendlier, and more trustworthy world.
After all, “Knowledge is power”!!!
Everyone has power, everyone has the power within themselves to be strong, courageous, and self-ruling.
This is more than decentralization. This is the world as is.