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[liberationtech] Decentralization

Alberto Cammozzo ac+lists at
Mon Feb 6 03:35:38 PST 2017

As Moxie Marlinspike put it: "cannibalizing a federated
application-layer protocol into a centralized service is almost a sure
recipe for a successful consumer product today."
Successful, but short-sighted. No federated or even interoperable
infrastructure will likely emerge from here.

If e-mail system was to be built today, we would have one for Facebook,
one for Google, one for Apple...
All of them proprietary and probably non-interoperable: you would need
at least four accounts to talk to everybody.

Our current Web-centered communication ecosystem is similar to the
balkanized pre-Internet: Bitnet, SNA, DECNET, Fidonet, OSI X.400, uucp...
IBM, Digital and others were then profitably competing over a
communication infrastructure and had no interest in cooperating to build
a federated one.
This impasse ended with government-funded TCP/IP: it was suitable,
simple, free, open. It won quickly (but ICT users were literate then).
What was the return on investment? On the immediate, zero.
On the long period? Huge. ROI was systemic.

We are in a similar market failure condition: "centralized" dominant
companies won't drop profitable business, and "decentralized" startups
wont get zero-ROI funding.
Business can go an for a while in this ecosystem (where most users don't
care of the architecture).
It makes rather sense that governments, or non-profits or crowdfunded
initiatives sponsor systemic infrastructures upon which business can
evolve and competition thrive (as it makes sense that governments break
monopolies, too).
The EU should be a good candidate, only if it was rational about


[1] <>

Alberto Cammozzo

On 05/02/2017 21:17, Yosem Companys wrote:
> Hi All,
> One of the problems may decentralized startups are confronting in
> Silicon Valley is that venture capitalists are telling them that they
> need to be centralized because there is no business model in
> decentralization. 
> For an example, think Diaspora: The original vision of Diaspora was a
> social network where each person could have his or her own node in the
> network and connect to others to share data similar to how Napster
> connected people to download music. But the data would live in your
> machine, not Facebook's.
> Can anyone think of decentralized business models that are profitable
> so folks on this list who are struggling with pitching
> decentralization as a business model can succeed?
> Thanks,
> Yosem


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