Decentralization & Governance: Can Bitcoin Have the Best of Both?

Ariel Deschapell is content manager for blockchain real estate startup Ubitquity, and a recent Henry Hazlitt fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education.
In this opinion piece, Deschapell argues that in order to solve issues around decentralized governance, the blockchain community must ask difficult questions about what kind of decentralization solutions need.
Since the earliest days of bitcoin, decentralization has been key to its value proposition. But it’s also been its greatest obstacle.
Whether it’s the block size debate, or the ethereum classic debacle more broadly, decentralization in public blockchain networks presents significant hurdles to what can seem like straightforward objectives. After seven years of open-source study, decentralized governance remains a little explored and unsolved enigma.
But solving it will likely mean going back to the beginning, asking what exactly we mean by ‘decentralization’. Do we mean the distribution of hash power? The number of nodes? The inherent ability to fork and secede as recently demonstrated by ethereum?
The exact definition of decentralization in cryptocurrency debates depends on the context. Yet, semantics and technical terms tend to obscure the fact that, at its heart, “decentralization” refers to a system of voluntary cooperation between peers.

This post was published at Coin Desk on August 13, 2016.

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