Internet is decentralized by design. This stands till now. It hasn't changed. The very basis of the technology, the infrastructure on which the web was built, is decentralized. In reality, though, the governance of available information for the majority of internet users, is heavily centralized. For example, recently Facebook banned (and then reversed the ban) the sharing of Australian news links in their platform.
We can thank the Cold War
Isn't it interesting that the internet is the product of an attempt to minimise the repercussions of a nuclear attack? The US invented it, in order to have a data communications network that could withstand a possible attack from the USSR. Information that is only stored in a single point (a computer, in our case) is lost, if the said single point is destroyed somehow. So why not build a network of points or nodes that can share and transfer data to one another? Almost 60 years later - at this very moment - this tech allows me to share conscious thoughts in a digital space.
Internet vs. the use of internet
The way we, humans, manipulate a technology is a completely different subject from the foundation of the technology itself. Internet was no exception, of course.
And, in my opinion, we exploited it. In a good way. We created a mega-brain, a collective of computing power and capacity, unlike anything that the world has ever seen before. I can't even imagine how exciting would it felt to be involved in the early internet of the 90's. Early adopters envisioned a cyberspace free of all the fallacies of its analog counterpart. They even wrote manifestos.
There is a catch. While the ultimate goal of internet's use remained the same: boundless communication, as more users flooded in, an inevitable knowledge gap formed between them. There were people that knew how to do things and people who didn't. I mean... take this website for example. I built it on WordPress. That's enough to prove my point, I think.
Opportunities arise - needs call for solutions
Back to the "knowledge gap" subject. Naturally, some of the more proficient people capitalized on the fact that they understood the tech better than the others. Therefore, they began creating solutions. They automated processes that would, otherwise, require copious amounts of time to be executed by common users, as myself.
The procedure stated above, consequently, branched into the two following outcomes:
- Common people got to experience internet's potential to a higher extent. This brought even more people on board.
- The trust that was put into these companies offering the aforementioned web solutions grew exponentially.
So, we have more users coming in, due to the network effect. These people will, sequentially, put their trust on a number of platforms that facilitate interaction with the internet. Platforms' power grows and they build their own networks. Some networks are larger, so they absorb the smaller ones. Big fish eats the small fish, and so on...
I'm gonna continue writing on this on another post.