There is this decentralization trend going on that is driven by technology. We are slowly, slowly moving towards a more decentralized society in which we design institutions less like classic bureaucratic hierarchies and more like technology driven networks. Media were the first industry to feel this decentralization. News, video content, journalists were part of this classic centralized model. Now, a second wave of decentralization is on the rise. The hotel industry is getting decentralized trough services like AirBNB, transportation is building a decentralized model with services like Uber, money finds its way to good ideas on Kickstarter.
This has a lot to do with the idea of ‘unbundling’; the packaging of products and services and how the delivery to markets is designed. Here are 3 things that are getting decentralized right now by technology driven networks:
Sure, bitcoin is in the news right now but I’m not talking cryptocurrencies here. I’m talking a lot of stuff we do at banks. Services like Square Cash, VenMo and Dwolla are cutting out the bank by creating a platform and framework for online payments between peers. Or what about loans? Over $2.4 billion in peer-to-peer loans were issued in 2013. Services like Lending Club, Zopa, and Prosper are cutting out banks by enabling people to make loans directly to each other.
Here’s a video on how Dwolla works
Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCS) are opening up some parts of educational system with a larger goal of decentralizing education to the extent that college become accessible to everyone. Learning communities likeDuolingo and CodeAcademy have established peer networks to help people learn from each other, but platforms like Coursera open how existing institutions can alter their delivery to market. In stead of a Stanford-course being available only on Stanford, and only for students of Stanford, some courses from colleges all over the US are now available to everyone online.
I’m currently working on our research paper on smart cities and I’m amazed by the number of platforms available to boost civic engagement. Crowdsourcing platforms like Dear City enable citizens to get a city planner’s attention and others can up-vote or down-vote the concern. And each city seems to have is own platform as well. And luckily it’s not only about just posting ideas, but also about finding capitol do actually do something. Platforms like Citizinvestor, ZenFunder and neighbor.ly enable citizens to pitch for money to pay for their civic projects and infrastructure.
More on this in what Sander has dubbed the best talk of the past leWeb conference.