Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

"Decentralization," writes the author, "is the direction in which user sovereignty increases." I would tend to use the word 'autonomy' to avoid some of the connotations of 'sovereignty'. "All decentralized systems are distributed systems," they continue, "networks where the primary functions of the network are performed by the nodes in the network and not a set of central servers." But here's the gist: "In a decentralized system, users are free to join and leave at will and take their data with them in a portable format. They have absolute control over what data is shared with others and the system as a whole as well as the ability to completely delete their data at any time." The problem with decentralization is that it reduces to atomism, with no connection between individuals at all. That's what creates the 'nine problems of distributed systems' described by the author, in my view. To preserve autonomy in a decentralized system, again in my view, standards and protocols should focus on the connections (ie., the syntax) of the network, not the content of the nodes (ie., the semantics).

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
stephen@downes.ca

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Last Updated: Sept 06, 2021 11:38 a.m.