Using a Centralized Internet to Create a Decentralized One

How do we get to an Internet that is truly decentralized?

I’m assuming a decentralized, highly secure “Web 3” Internet running on the blockchain is better because it will create more wealth and options for more people.

But that kind of world will disrupt many of the businesses and families and governments who have consolidated information and power. And they’re not going to like it, right? So what’s the path?

Is it to build a decentralized Internet from scratch and get it to critical mass?

Maybe, but there’s another way we should work on in parallel, which is to intelligently combine decentralized and centralized aspects of the Internet.

For example, I was listening to Ryan Shea and Muneeb Ali talk to Laura Shin about how they’re building out their Blockstack platform, which they view as an alternative to the Ethereum platform.

Blockstack has a decentralized storage layer called Gaia, which also allows you to use centralized storage like Dropbox and Google Drive. That makes a lot of sense to me . Why not leverage more mature technologies to help launch decentralized ones?

Albert Wenger makes this same point in his post on “The Unknown Path to a Decentralized Future“:

. . . it may be possible to take a stepwise path where some centralized elements remain at first (for instance, ones that demand throughput right now that’s not yet achievable on blockchains) with a view to decentralizing those elements in the future.

The trick, of course, will be to have a clear enough vision to leverage centralized elements without letting them coopt the decentralized ones. I think it’s worth the risk as we also build a purely decentralized Internet.

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