Accelerating the Inevitable Decentralisation of Trade
Like many consumed in the world of IT I am excited by the possibility of contributing to the use of technology in making the world a better place. My belief in the transformative power of technology is what keeps me motivated to dedicate a highly disproportionate amount of my waking though to maximising my capabilities. It is an idealistic conviction that drives me to spend countless unpaid hours fiddling with bits of code, reviewing new frameworks and to choose jobs and projects that align with the desire to bring me one step closer to fulfilling a dream of empowering people to live a fairer, more productive and less stressful lives.
My first written assignment at university back in 1989 required me to consider the extent to which the IT Revolution was in fact a Revolution. Ever since then I’ve tried to keep the technological evolution trends in mind and imagine the most positive impact on people’s lives and align with that.
For me, the thing that I return to is empowering people to contribute economically, that is, to work; without the inequity and power conflicts that characterise work in the 20th century.
Without going into detail into the problems I see in workplace, organisation and economic theory I think that most can agree that there is plenty of scope to improve how things get done and that technology is a key part of the solution.
We hear much of ‘disruptive innovation’ and yet I say that the examples people talk about aren’t disruptive at all – in fact they are a natural refinement of the same outdated commercial monopolistic tendencies of a system in decline. The real disruption is only just beginning and the impact will be vastly more pervasive. The coming disruption will not be based on owning the marketing space for a product or service – the coming disruption will eliminate centralisation of power and control.
Returning to my vision and how I aspire to connect to what I consider as the inevitable decentralisation of power at both a macro and micro level I start with my first instincts in acquiring the localshop.com.au domain around the turn of the century. For decisions to be made at the most efficient point in the service chain, as complete a set of information relating to that decision must be available and that information delivery will ultimately be a shared and common utility as opposed to being owned, controlled and exploited.
But coming back to how this translates to what I envisage before I lose you in abstraction … I believe that a common set of applications that allow individuals to trade and offer services to each other directly is something that I can try to help realise.
In the medium term ( next 5 years ) I believe that I can create applications that a community can use to empower them to control what they charge, what services or products they offer and how they connect with others doing the same without relying on a centralised managed marketplace to bring them together.
For me, the ShotgunDriver components I have developed are components that will evolve into realising this vision. Using these systems, a user can schedule and record service delivery on-site including capture of agreement that the service was provided as promised.
The Localshop directory and related products are ultimately aimed at bringing together buyers and suppliers. Ultimately this will incorporate a trust based search prioritisation to allow the consuming community to drive marketing exposure directly without the need for any third party.
Let me finish with a simplistic example use-case that aligns with my vision of a decentralised trading future.
Jenny and her son Nathan finish breakfast and see that the weather is looking good so they decide to take a trip to the beach. They don’t want to miss the best of the morning surf so are willing to pay a premium to avoid delay. Their extended trust network includes Joseph who agrees to collect them as this doesn’t conflict with his own schedule and is on his way. Joseph has never met Jenny but they trust each other through their network of mutual friends. The system they use handles the request for a ride, the service fee (without middle man commission), the feedback back into the trust network etc.
Imagine that the system that they used in this scenario was managed by a peer-to-peer open network that was not operated for profit and that all components required to tap into that system were available for anybody. Compare this to the Uber model in which a commission of 20+% is extracted and where all issues relating to trust are managed centrally.