Decentralized Culture - Principles #14

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Principles Series
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Apr 9, 2022 01:41 PM
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Yesterday we covered the benefits of distributed systems. One prime example of distributed systems is our culture.
This is interesting because it wasn’t always the case.
Throughout much of history, culture was heavily swayed by government and media. That’s not to say that people weren’t a force as well. But with all mass communication being run through either the government or one of the three main television channels, our culture resembled much more a centralized system than the world of today.
As noted, the internet and more recently social media has broken this system down. Seemingly anyone can gain hundreds of thousands of followers. Don’t believe it? That guy who hosted Fear Factor is now one of the most influential voices in the country. And he’s not even the craziest example: another reality TV show host somehow became our President!
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So what does this mean? We spoke about this a bit when we discussed culture, but it is controlled by both everyone and no one, a trademark of a distributed system. And while some people may sway it more than others, no one person or institution is able to control it (not even the aforementioned reality TV show hosts).
Given that culture is distributed, what does this mean? We can turn to computer science for an answer, as they’ve studied distributed systems for decades. Such a system is stable and infinitely scalable. These are good things. But they also have tremendous ability to evolve such that it’s inherently unpredictable, and it is very difficult to identify and fix any errors that do arise.
Hence, what I mentioned back a month ago still holds: the responsibilities of each of us to leverage our sway wisely are greater than ever, even if it feels as though we are all powerless.