Centralized Decentralization

in #steem2 years ago

A Lot has been said in the last couple of days about our decentralized blockchain and the need for some (new) direction for it. Direction, by whatever name you might call it is by definition centralized.

Do we need it on Steem? If yes, how much? Who decides?

It has occured to me in the last 24 hours that I have lived the last 29 years in an analogous situation: AA

Stay with me a paragraph or two and let me explain. I have been a member of Alcoholics Anonymous for 29 years and a successful member for well over 28. I live the life every single day.

I’m guessing here, but I think AA is the most decentralized large organization ever. It has no leaders (our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern) and no articles of incorporation. No body, individual or group can tell you to do anything. They can’t even tell you to not come back (the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking). I think there are some correlations between the two that bear looking at.


The Case For Centralization of Certain Aspects of Steem.

The first question is why? Why do we need leadership/centralization?

1: Left to it’s own devices, a herd will wander aimlessly. They may follow a leader for a ways, but will inevitably wander off. You’ve heard the analogy of herding cats? That IS the case here.

2: Some decisions have to be made. Why not let the already established witnesses handle it? The things I’m talking about are entirely out of the purview of the witnesses. They do what they do surprisingly well, but they are not leaders or trusted servants. They are witnesses.

3: Unified and trusted spokespeople are essential for our ‘outside’ reputation. Public Relations and Marketing will go a long ways toward the ultimate success or failure and those two need to have a unified front.

How do we organize a central authority on a decentralized blockchain?

1: With the least possible organization. It simply must reflect the voice of the majority in all things.

2: That said, the minority voice must be heard and considered IN ALL THINGS.

3: Consensus is utterly the key. If the opinion is 40% yes and 40% no with 10% undecided then the problem hasn’t been properly explained or studied.


Why not just leave this all to the witnesses? They are already in place.

1: It is NOT their job. Their job is make sure the information that constitutes the blockchain is safely stored and cared for and to monitor the health of the blockchain itself. By definition that basically precludes them from leadership. Not that I’m saying individual witnesses can’t be leaders, but as a group it is not possible.

2: Stake Voting does NOT represent the majority, it represents the money,

3: To me it would represent a conflict of interest.

Where Does AA Come Into This?

AA absolutely is organized with the least possible organization. Terms for elected offices in AA (there aren’t many) are strictly limited to two years. One year to learn your job, one year to do your job and done. Next in line.


Even the salaried workers are rotated in different jobs on a regular basis. The organizational experience is collective and cooperative.

If you think for a moment that organizing Steem Stakeholders is like herding cats, you might want to consider trying it with rummies. There is not a more contrary group in the world in my experience.

One more question? Am I angling for a leadership position with this?

Absolutely not. I have no desire to return to (futile disputes over money, property and prestige).

All the words in bold in this article are direct quotes from the 12 Traditions of AA (short form). You can find a full copy of them here. I wrote this article with out reference to this list, it is committed to my memory. They are read before every meeting and I have been to literally thousands of meetings.

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I know you didn't post this for a pat on the back, but you are getting it anyway. I understand the first year is the hardest, harder than all but the next 28. That's quite an achievement. 28 years, one day at a time.

Trust me, I'm a doctor.


Awwwww, thanks. It's been quite a journey, and I've enjoyed most of it... And probably learned more due to the less enjoyable parts.

I will be honest I had not igiven this issue a lot of thought but you presented the issues is such a clear way and a good comparison with the setup of AA, and after readign your post and from the little I have read, I think I am leaning towards not seeing a need for it to be centrally controlled and dare I say centrally manipulated

I'd really like to see as absolutely little organization as possible, or just a little less. Decentralized is a truly great asset and the closer we can steer to that mark the better off we are. That isn't to say that we don't need any, just that I think less is better.

I do agree, and I hope it stays that way as well

1: It is NOT their job. Their job is make sure the information that constitutes the blockchain is safely stored and cared for and to monitor the health of the blockchain itself. By definition that basically precludes them from leadership. Not that I’m saying individual witnesses can’t be leaders, but as a group it is not possible.

LOVE this post!

all great points!!

Thanks Snook!

Kudos for almost 30 great years in AA, 30 will be a great celebration indeed 💚💚💚
You made excellent points, maybe rotating witnesses (those who volunteer for it) might just get the job done. There are amazing people in that bunch :)

Well, it will be a good thing, if I live long enough to hit 30. Just so I don't get a swelled head, one of my friends celebrated 61 years on Christmas Day. And he's since had his 98th birthday.

There are a few witnesses I'd like to see involved. They are amazing and have a unique perspective on Steem. Valued voices to be certain.

Much food for thought here @bigtom. Interesting correlation to AA, much I was not familiar with. Congrats on your 29 years! Something to be proud of, taking it one day at a time :)

Thank you! It just occurred to me that I had been a willing and active participant in the great decentralized zone. I even did a couple of elected terms. Glad to start, glad to finish on them!

Wow, those are some really good points. I have said in the past that I think witnesses would be good people to step up as leaders because they already have a larger vested interest in the blockchain performing well. I can see your point though about how it might be a conflict of interest.

Good stuff!

Another benefit of AA shown right here, nice job Tom. Great things can be done without a lot of hierarchy.

YES! Great things can be accomplished with out a lot of 'leaders'. I really think we can do it.

If you think for a moment that organizing Steem Stakeholders is like herding cats, you might want to consider trying it with rummies.

Ok, this was my laugh-out-loud moment for the night!!

Comes from some laugh out loud experiences I can assure you.

While I agree that AA might have one of the best decentralized organization ever created and that has staying power. Before they got to that stage..

They had a clear mission, clear goals and then added to that the traditions.

Absolutely. A mission, a mission statement and a road map are primary.

For AA it wasn't always that clear. In fact it was pretty muddy and murky at the very start. We were very lucky that the first two were bright and motivated. Once they started gathering more members it came together pretty quickly. There may even be an analogy there :)

Some similarities to the situation here on Steem.
For a decentralised path on Steem best fit would probably be an incremental strategy with a bundle of actions. Developing a mision statement would probably be to early now. Community-driven stratgy building could help determine these actions starting from SOS-forums. Since these are a central point of reference, things won't drift apart.

Having regular - let's say monthly - SOS-forums in future would almost guarantee that we catch the right moment to start a discussion on a mission statement with a good probability of success. @pennsif Would monthly be OK?

Actually right now, there is a test on this going on on Steem. Please participate by answering five polls: https://busy.org/@impactn/where-to-go-setting-up-a-strategy-for-the-future-of-steem-test-stage-1

I am open to options, depending on community demand and interest.

What she said ☝🏽💜

I think the SOS forums that @pennsif organizes will come up with some solution to decentralized leadership on Steem. I highly recommend to anyone who cares about the future of Steem to listen to the recordings of the first 3 forums that already took place and look forward to the rest of them. The 4th one is scheduled for tomorrow.

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Thank you. The forums are at least a good starting point to bring people together to share ideas etc.

I certainly tend to believe that those forums represent our current best option. Pennsif and Team Humble do a wonderful job!

Yes and it's so valuable to listen to the recordings if we can't make it to the show for the rest of us.

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Thanks for the info!

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That's a good comparison... It puts the blockchain in an easier to understand light. As I read the above, what comes to mind is the way flocks of birds fly... The formation as a whole body that moves in beautiful design, as if at a single command but with no visible leader or fixed plan... if you know what I mean...
(Ok, just found that its called a 'murmuration' by starlings)

Yes. Exactly. That possibility is open to us, I believe. Murmuration. I hadn't heard that term in years, but it is a perfect example of what can happen.

Thanks Ackhoo!

This post has been included in the latest edition of SOS Daily News - a digest of all you need to know about the State of Steem.

Thank you my friend! I truly do appreciate it!

This is really good information about Centralized and Decentralization.
Thanks for share with us..

You are most welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

This is an argument so well made @bigtom13 I'm reposting this stat.

As for me, I must say I do always think of our Steemit as a little village in the vast world of the Internet whilst Facebook might be London or NYC, we are a village and I think to come together and decide sounds good, but having a council to help us decide seems wise as well.

I'm a selfish member of this village, sticking to my own ways and not even really understanding how it all works. But, I do know that I want it to keep working so we can not lose our Village! Let's hope some good comes to us all on Steemit in this vein.

I love the analogy. Our little village. Absolutely apt.

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Howdy sir bigtom13! I learned alot about how AA works in this post and never knew their organization could be similar to steemit but this is very interesting! There needs to be at least a little bit of organization here, no one knows how to get things changed if needed, right?