🔖 On Emergent Centralization (archive)
There is a principle of Defensive Decentralization: when besieged, a well constructed decentralized system will further decentralize.
The corollary of which is: A well constructed decentralized system will identify & attack emergent centralization.
There has been a tendency for some decentralized systems to move towards centralization, even in non-adversarial conditions — most email going through Google servers, or a few Mastadon servers hosting a bulk of the users. The centralization isn’t always in-protocol, sometimes it can be political, in code, or in design — as seen in many blockchain projects. Designing systems that defend against this is an open problem.
🔖 Federation is the Worst of all Worlds (archive)
The threat model and economics of federated systems devolve to concentrating trust in the hands of a few, while missing out on the scale advantages of purely centralized solutions.
Since privacy isn’t always built into the protocol the user has to trust the federated server. The problem can be partly solved by building a privacy preserving data persistence layer, and an application layer on top of it.
It’s much easier to load my thoughts into someone else’s little box and hit “Submit” (perhaps the most well-chosen interface word of all time). But submission comes at a price. My personal information, my finances, my family connections, my ideas—all are now in the hands of those to whom I have submitted.
From Reboot the World by Paul Ford