Money, Education, Civic Engagement and Decentralizing Technology Driven Networks

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 CashVenMo 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 ClubZopa, 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.  

Here’s a list of all available courses.

Civic Engagement
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 CitizinvestorZenFunder and enable citizens to pitch for money to pay for their civic projects and infrastructure.

Schermafbeelding 2014-03-03 om 10.18.38

More on this in what Sander has dubbed the best talk of the past leWeb conference.

One comment on “Money, Education, Civic Engagement and Decentralizing Technology Driven Networks

  1. “Technology concentrates power.

    In the 90’s, it looked like the Internet might be an exception, that it could be a decentralizing, democratizing force. No one controlled it, no one designed it, it was just kind of assembling itself in an appealing, anarchic way. The companies that first tried to centralize the Internet, like AOL and Microsoft, failed risibly. And open source looked ready to slay any dragon.

    But those days are gone. We’ve centralized the bejesus out of the Internet now. There’s one search engine (plus the one no one uses), one social network (plus the one no one uses), one Twitter. We use one ad network, one analytics suite. Anywhere you look online, one or two giant American companies utterly dominate the field.”


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