- Internet & the Web
Decentralization in Social Networking
Who would have thought in 1974 when the first TCP/IP protocol suite was launched, the development of the internet would ever have grown into the amazing phenomenon that it has become. And years later, through leaps and bounds and in astronomical proportion, it spun from it one of its premier and most profound by-products, “Social networking “.
In the last 10 years or so, the popularity of social "networks" has grown so tremendously I dare say the subsequent generation will remember ground mail or home phones. Face to face communication has become a luxury experienced only by those who have not completely sold their souls to technology. Even so, after being an avid observer and participant in its evolution, I can hardly say that I blame them. In a matter of minutes we can transfer a plethora of information that would have normally taken hours of even days to convey. And to add more icing to the cake, and to some, more salt to the wound, it can all be done at the cost of a cup of coffee.
Evolving into the passive-aggressive communicators that Social networking has made us; it is without a doubt an important part of our social, political, educational, professional, personal and business life. Although “Online Social Networking” sites offer services that are invaluable to us, be warned…it is not without issues and challenges. Although social networking sites provide a space to share opinions and knowledge, the increased number of users has also created centralized information silos that jeopardize privacy and the control personal information.
In the current centralized structure, a single user might register in several different social networking sites all for different purposes. Their user information is scattered over these different social networks and stored at the sites own data silos. All users’ information is completely controlled by the social networking sites and the user cannot filter what information is being presented or which are being restricted. More so, users can not even be sure their data is erased if they deactivate a particular account. The remedy for this challenge and these uncertainties…”Decentralization”.
Decentralization framework is proposed as a solution to the challenges created by these silos. Decentralization would mean an immediate increase of productivity in practically all organizations, provide a greater security, decrease lapses in privacy breaches, and help to maintain immediate and complete information to consumers.
A decentralized structure means that all the users’ "information" will be hosted in one trusted location with users having full control. Through decentralization, three different aspects of controlling information are considered; 1) Privacy - Users are able to select what and to whom the data is shown with certain level of restrictions, 2) Ownership - The information now belongs to the user and is stored inside a trusted machine rather than being control by social network applications, and 3) Dissemination - How information is disseminated is based on the user's own preference and relationship.
In essence, decentralization gives users benefits of using social networking sites without being bound by continuous registrations. In turn, social network applications benefit in the ability to access a larger pool of users thus breaking social network boundaries and giving a more sound foundation for networking resources.