decentralized is a term that appears frequently in conversations about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. but what does decentralized mean, and what are the benefits of it.

The first step to understanding decentralized systems is to see them as defined by distributed computing. A distributed system shares its data across multiple variables which can exist in various locations or even in different parts of the world. This means that there is no central node within the network where everything gathers together for processing, instead each individual part processes an action simultaneously from its own location which then communicates with the other nodes through messaging services. The actions taken from separate sources don’t have a specific point of origin so you can’t track them back to a single user/system/place etc., this is a key difference from a centralized system.

A decentralized network has no central point of failure which makes it difficult to shutdown or control the flow of information through censorship, this is useful for example if you want to avoid being shut down by governments or internet service providers (ISP’s). The computers within the network work together to share and exchange data allowing them to make decisions that would be near impossible for individuals on their own such as finding solutions faster than possible with an individual computer. This is especially useful if your trying to send messages over long distances that can’t be controlled by any single entity like satellite companies or governments.

Decentralization makes sense for services like government voting records and currency exchanges but what about more common applications? Can decentralized systems be applied to social media, news sources, or messaging apps?

Decentralized systems can be used as the solution for a lot of issues such as Facebook’s censorship and privacy concerns. Instead of relying on a singular application for news/discussion/etc, you could open up content hosting over multiple systems where information is shared freely through peer-to-peer connections. A big issue with this idea right now however is that the user experience will ultimately suffer if it means having to copy and paste links instead of simply sharing an article directly from your source of choice, that’s why decentralized social media networks are still in their early stages where they’re not very accessible to users, but for someone looking into coding these applications its worth checking out some projects likeATOM and Diaspora ( which was created by Swartz )

A lot of services like Dropbox and even Github offer file hosting for developers to share code which helps them solve problems faster when working together, but there isn’t much collaboration between engineers or anyone that might not know how to code. If we could bring cryptocurrency into the mix then we could manage these projects in a way that allows us to promote positive change around the world, because people can contribute money directly through micropayments making it feel less intimidating than contributing time and effort. This would open up development opportunities for people who aren’t looking for careers in coding and allow them to work with other peers on various projects whether it’s improving current products or creating new software altogether. These different teams wouldn’t have to rely on central authorities to manage and fund their projects, they could take donations and crowdsource money directly from the user base. There wouldn’t be any middlemen like you find with Kickstarter which means more of your money goes towards development instead of fees and commissions.

Decentralized social media sites would also provide a much-needed solution for the censorship issues we’re currently facing, right now anyone who attempts to create these decentralized systems is at risk of having their accounts shut down because there are still companies like Twitter that control what kind of content can be posted using their service. An example is when people were protesting against the mass surveillance brought up by Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013 and 2015 where social media sites began suspending the accounts even though they were posting about an issue that we still face today.

There are a number of organizations and foundations working on connecting people with technology so they can easily communicate without third parties interfering such as Freedom Box,, and GNU social which along with the Tor network help people circumvent the censorship present in some countries.

The next step is to figure out ways of promoting decentralized systems that provide privacy for our users while still providing them with a quality experience that doesn’t put up too much friction for more mainstream audiences who might not know how to code or be interested in crypto currency yet but want a solution to a problem like Facebook’s censorship where they can actually make a difference by contributing money directly towards development rather than going through a middle man.

This will allow the user base to influence development in a way that they can be more involved with projects without relying on central authorities.

This is why it’s important to educate people about these things because decentralization is a powerful tool, but there needs to be some work done before we hit the point where it’s accessible enough for users who aren’t interested in coding or understanding how all of this works. However, if someone does want to contribute code towards open source projects they could join organizations like Riseup and learn from other peers allowing them to grow as coders while still being directly involved with something that does the positive change in this world.


All of this sounds great so how do we get there?

It starts with educating people about the various ways they can contribute to these projects, but right now there are no systems in place that are easy enough for someone who isn’t interested in coding or crypto currency. However, if we create simple interfaces then it will be easier for people to participate and see that it’s not as complex as it seems like it is right now which means more contributions towards development even if they don’t want to code. Ideally, one-day software would run directly off blockchains without third parties controlling them, but until our computer’s architecture is capable of handling all the processes required by decentralized systems I think its unrealistic to expect too much from developers who aren’t willing to learn how to code or look into how to bring it in the hands of the mainstream audience.

There are some start ups working on blockchain-based social media sites but I think there need to be more people working on this, if you have any ideas about getting involved with these projects feel free to contact me so we can talk about ways in which I can help spread awareness and support projects that are trying to make a positive change in the world.

One great resource for decentralization is Decentralized Web Summit where they recently had their third annual event at Stanford University, its an international group that aims at educating people about decentralized solutions while also figuring out how we’re going move away from centralizing systems like Facebook, Google, Twitter etc towards something that serves the users first so they have more control over their virtual lives.


This is why its important to join organizations like this because it helps educate people about these things, but there need to be systems in place which are simple enough for any audience so the decentralized web can become a reality.

One good example of an organization which has been doing great work on promoting decentralization is Riseup which according to their website is a “social justice-oriented email & Webhosting provider for people and organizations fighting for progressive change”.

They have a great starter guide that is geared towards helping users get involved with Riseup, obviously, if you want to join they will ask you why you are interested in decentralized systems so I suggest coming up with your own project idea before contacting them.


If you want to learn more about Riseup check out their website or if you would like to get involved with the Decentralized Web Summit visit their community page for more information on how they are trying to promote decentralized solutions, these organizations can be great resources for people who are interested in getting involved with projects that contribute towards open source initiatives for the greater good.

I wrote this article to show people that there are ways for them to support open-source projects even if they don’t want to code, so hopefully, you can find some inspiration from these suggestions and get involved with your favorite project or start your own.