There are many reasons why decentralized is better than centralized. However there is one reason why centralized still wins – discovery. There is no value being on the decentralized platform that is perfectly open, public, neutral, borderless & censorship resistant if few people find you there. That is why decentralized discovery is the missing piece at the infrastructure level that we explore in this chapter.
This is Part 1/chapter 18 in The Blockchain Economy book. This serialised book is a practical guidebook for investors, entrepreneurs and employees who want to learn how to prosper during the transition to an economy where value exchange is permissionless and disintermediated. For the index please go here.
YouTube crypto content ban illustrates the problem
When YouTube banned many crypto content creators in December 2019, many people suggested that the crypto content creators abandon the evil centralised YouTube/Google in favour of one of the many decentralized alternatives to YouTube. This is where two worlds clashed. The crypto content creators believe that decentralized alternatives to YouTube that are open, public, neutral, borderless & censorship resistant are a good thing. But their site requires enough people people to view their content to keep sponsors/advertisers happy. They need to be discovered.
Centralized discovery is a solved problem. All the Big Tech companies do this well. However, decentralized discovery is a tough problem.
Why decentralized discovery is so hard
Think about what has to happen for decentralized discovery to work. Somebody who never thinks for a moment about the difference between centralized and decentralized has to find something that is stored on a decentralized service.
The first problem to solve is technical.
Microservices Swarm meet Blockchain
Microservices – also known as the microservice architecture – is an architectural style that structures an application as a collection of services that are:
- Highly maintainable and testable
- Loosely coupled
- Independently deployable
- Organized around business capabilities
- Owned by a small team
The microservice architecture enables the rapid, frequent and reliable delivery of large, complex applications. It also enables an organization to evolve its technology stack.
For more on Microservices please go here.
To understand swarming, think of a flock of geese or other natural adaptive systems – where nobody is in charge. Adaptive systems are naturally decentralized and resilient and antifragile.
Many developers think Blockchain is just marketing hype, a slow distributed database at best. You hear that opinion a lot on sites such as Hacker News where developers hang out online. Much of the criticism is valid – the Blockchain space has more than its fair share of hype masters. Yet Bitcoin is a great example of an adaptive system that is naturally resilient and antifragile and that already works at scale.
Technically, swarming uses techniques such as message queues that anybody who has worked on high speed trading systems will be familiar with. For a deeper dive, please go to this hour long video on YouTube.
Once there is a technical way of doing decentralized discovery, the user access problem needs to be solved. For that we need a Duck.
Duck Duck Go could solve the user access problem
I switched to Duck Duck Go a few years ago. It took a few seconds to change my default search engine in my browser and the results have been good enough. That combination of low friction and good enough plus a firm commitment to privacy has got Duck Duck Go a lot of traction. That matters because Google lives off advertising and tracking us, so although they can solve decentralized discovery at a technical level, they are not motivated to do so.
Watch this space, it could get interesting. If you are working on a solution to the decentralized discovery problem please get in touch with us.
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