Decentralized Networks Yield Centralized Systems

From the yearly World Question center, this year their question is ‘What have you changed your mind about?’ Nicholas Carr muses:

Like many others, I mistakenly interpreted a technical structure as a metaphor for human liberty. In recent years, we have seen clear signs that while the Net may be a decentralized communications system, its technical and commercial workings actually promote the centralization of power and control. Look, for instance, at the growing concentration of web traffic…. Or look at how Google continues to expand its hegemony over web searching. … It’s not hard to understand how the Net promotes centralization. For one thing, its prevailing navigational aids, such as search engine algorithms, form feedback loops. By directing people to the most popular sites, they make those sites even more popular. On the web as elsewhere, people stream down the paths of least resistance. … To what end will the web giants deploy their power? They will, of course, seek to further their own commercial or political interests by monitoring, analyzing, and manipulating the behavior of “users.” … Even though the Internet has no center, technically speaking, control can be wielded, through software code, from anywhere. What’s different, in comparison to the physical world, is that acts of control are more difficult to detect.

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About Andy Wibbels

Andy is an award-winning blogger and author of the book Blogwild! A Guide for Small Business Blogging. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Wired, Business Week, Forbes, and other national and international media. He was worked at several San Francisco startups including Get Satisfaction, SAY Media, InMobi, Keas, and Mindjet. Currently, Andy is Director of Marketing at Lucidworks. Tw · Fb · G+ · Li

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