Decentralization provides a means to uphold democratic norms while also allowing domestic and international innovation systems to thrive.
Technology tends to oscillate between centralized and decentralized architectures, depending on the scientific challenges of the time. The internet started out highly decentralized, but funding the infrastructure and scale required to properly monetize it required a few hyperscalers to become centralized. In contrast, software systems have swung in the opposite direction, beginning with big, monolithic code bases and evolving to decentralized open-source projects and cloud microservices. With varied outcomes, the Web3 phenomena attempted to decentralize a wide range of digital assets and services.
This tug-of-war has been evident in software for decades, as demonstrated by the differences between the Apple and Android mobile ecosystems. However, in this case, we investigate a broader mental model that is applicable not only to the technology systems themselves, but also to the innovation process that generates them in the first place. In this paper, we argue that decentralization provides a means to uphold democratic norms while also allowing domestic and international innovation systems to thrive.