They seem not to notice the pattern: decentralized technology alone does not guarantee decentralized outcomes. When centralization arises elsewhere in an apparently decentralized system, it comes as a surprise or simply goes ignored.
The building of the blockchain is predicted to harken the end of the contemporary sovereign order. Some go further to claim that as a powerful decentering technology, blockchain contests the continued functioning of world capitalism. Are such claims merited? In this paper we consider sovereignty and blockchain technology theoretically, posing possible futures for sovereignty in a blockchain world. These possibilities include various forms of individual, popular, technological, corporate, and techno-totalitarian state sovereignty. We identify seven structural tendencies of blockchain technology and give examples as to how these have manifested in the construction of new forms of sovereignty. We conclude that the future of sovereignty in a blockchain world will be articulated in the conjuncture of social struggle and technological agency and we call for a stronger alliance between technologists and democrats.
Imagine meeting a stranger and entering into a trusted economic exchange without needing a third party to vouch for you. What changes in your theoretical perspective in such a world? That model of interaction is what distributed trust technologies such as blockchain bring. I introduce the basic concept of distributed trust, describe some early instances, and highlight how organizational theories need to be updated to no longer rely upon fundamental assumptions about trust which are becoming outdated. Distributed trust fundamentally transforms boundaries of organizations and challenges assumptions about internalizing organizational functions to overcome market trust coordination issues. Implicit assumptions about the legitimacy and power of central network positions no longer ring true. This is very fertile ground for organizations research as the core tenet of the field—what roles and functions should group together within an organization—is being called into question at the most fundamental
And blockchain will bring those better products?
For me, the most interesting part of blockchain technology is that you can provide much richer and more advanced protocols. They have the best features of Web One in that they’re governed in a decentralized way, and in a way that the rules are fixed and people can build on them and invest in them and know that the rules won’t change. But they have more advanced functionality than protocols of the Web One era.
One way to think of a blockchain is as a community-owned database. In Web One, there were no databases. In computer science terminology, there’s no way to keep state. You just look at Ethereum today, you can store any arbitrary code, any arbitrary names, any arbitrary thing. It’s a very rich kind of database, and so you can build much more powerful services that also have those properties of Web One and Web Two. Some people call it Web Three.
It is supposed to be like the web you know but without relying on centralised operators. In the early days of the world wide web, which came into existence in 1989, you connected directly with your friends through desktop computers that talked to each other. But from the early 2000s, with the advent of Web 2.0, we began to communicate with each other and share information through centralised services provided by big companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon. It is now on Facebook’s platform, in its so called “walled garden”, that you talk to your friends. “Our laptops have become just screens. They cannot do anything useful without the cloud,” says Muneeb Ali, co-founder of Blockstack, a platform for building decentralised apps. The DWeb is about re-decentralising things – so we aren’t reliant on these intermediaries to connect us. Instead users keep control of their data and connect and interact and exchange messages directly with others in their network.
The cryptocurrency movement is the spiritual heir to previous open computing movements, including the open source software movement led most visibly by Linux, and the open information movement led most visibly by Wikipedia.1991: Linus Torvalds’ forum post announcing Linux; 2001: the first Wikipedia pageBoth of these movements were once niche and controversial. Today Linux is the dominant worldwide operating system, and Wikipedia is the most popular informational website in the world.Crypto tokens are currently niche and controversial. If present trends continue, they will soon be seen as a breakthrough in the design and development of open networks, combining the societal benefits of open protocols with the financial and architectural benefits of proprietary networks. They are also an extremely promising development for those hoping to keep the internet accessible to entrepreneurs, developers, and other independent creators.
When designed properly, decentralized, open source, tokenized cryptoasset networks solve the problem of incentive alignment between network creators and network participants. When the software is public, and the organizing body is a nonprofit rather than a for-profit, the Extraction Imperative is eliminated — because there are literally no longer shareholders with a claim on cash flows. The value is held in the network itself, represented by token ownership. Everyone who participates in the activity of the network, using and accruing tokens in the process, is effectively a network “owner.” Because there is no division between owners and participants, there is no point at which their incentives diverge.
The potential opened by distributed ledger technologies for peer-to-peer exchange enabling users and developers to co-own their platforms, organize their own communities and share the value generated according to their own rules has led many to believe in the ‘sharing economy’ as a way to foster cooperation between individuals on large scale, leading to a new, socially pacified post-capitalism era. In spite of any such utopian expectation, however, this paper argues that capitalism has simply strengthened, not only through the growing centralization of peer-to-peer digital services on proprietary platforms, but also through highly speculative practices embedded in decentralized architectural protocols. We tackle the new challenges raised by the engineering of human interactions through algorithmic governance, stressing the necessity to carefully evaluate sharing economy and platform cooperativism as complex phenomena with risks, benefits and unintended consequences inevitably intertwined in the fabric of human existence.
The following discussion of computational capital takes the electronic database, an infrastructure for storing in-formation, as vantage point. Following a brief look into how database systems serve in-formation desires, the notion of ‘database as discourse’ by Mark Poster is explored and further developed. Database as discourse establishes a machinic agency, directed towards the individual in a specific mode of hailing. This mode of hailing in turn leads to a scattered form of subjectivity, that is identified with Manuela Ott and Gerald Raunig as dividual. How does dividualization emerge from database infrastructure? What is the specific quality of data, that is produced by and being harvested from in/dividuals into databases, and what are the consequences of such a shifted view?