On April 29th in Turkey at 8:00 AM local time, Wikipedia went down. The beehive encyclopedia that many are dependent on could not be accessed nationwide, as a government court order led to Internet service providers to block access. This capability of governments to restrict access to the internet, an Invisible Hand we do not see, can edit and censor content online at a top down level.
In response to the issue, local communities began using a local network routing blockchain solution known as the Interplanetary File System (IPFS) to circumvent the government’s restrictions and access Wikipedia. IPFS is a peer-to-peer blockchain distributed globally that can store files or all kinds, including websites. When faced with conflict, local internet users ported their IP addresses to this network and the local internet services provides become secondary.
Adam Smith first spoke of the forces of this proverbial “Invisible Hand” in the context of economics. As information morphs into the newest form of currency, however, the factors that applied to shaping economic markets have traditionally also applied to viewing information online. China builds firewalls to block many websites, Facebook censors posts daily, and users are at the whims governments, internet service providers, and all parties who find themselves along the centralized, redundant, and not publicly-visible information supply chain.
Blockchain technology, where nodes are decentralized around the globe, does not enable the sort of metaphorical erasing that the Invisible Hand very clearly did in Turkey. Rather, blockchain data architectures are peer-to-peer, meaning that the computers interact with one another directly and without reliance on any intermediary parties. Therefore, when an outside actor wants to interfere with a blockchain, they cannot due to the shared computing resources that apply world class cryptography to protect their independence. The true permanence of data or applications runs on top the network.
Decentralization of technological architectures more widely, therefore, is actively bringing the Internet itself into the next wave of power structures. No longer can centralized groups decide what information can and cannot be seen. Turkey and the Wikipedia example from recent weeks demonstrate how impactful and imperative the ongoing transition can be.
No longer are we at the whims of the Invisible Hand, and the wizards who operate it. With blockchain and decentralization technologies, there is another option.
Want to learn more about decentralization technologies? Join us for D10e in Israel June 6-7 in Tel Aviv.