Philip Sheldrake

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Tag: semantic

Why decentralization needs more than cryptonetworks – the Internetome

Aldous Huxley (1937) regarded the decentralization of industry and government necessary for a better society. Norbert Wiener’s insights (1950) into the dynamics and ethics of humans and large computer systems hinted at the advantages. Marshall McLuhan (1962) anticipated a shift from the centralized mechanical age to the decentralized electronic age, coining the term global village as shorthand for such a welcome outcome. E.F. Schumacher (1973) considered decentralization allied with freedom and one of “the truths revealed by nature’s living processes”. Steven Levy’s hacker ethic (1984) includes the tenet “mistrust authority – promote decentralization”. And Nicholas Negroponte (1995) regards decentralization as one of the four cardinal virtues of the information society (alongside globalization, harmonization and empowerment).

When centralization is mediated by an organization, governmental or corporate, its best interests must be aligned perfectly and continuously with the parties subject to its gravity in the mediating context – otherwise decentralization must be preferred to avoid the appropriation and erosion of those parties' valuable agency. Importantly, decentralization demands decentralization at every level without exception for any exception would be centralization. By definition.

This post aims to scope the challenge that still lies ahead to secure decentralization even with the rise and rise of cryptonetworks such as Ethereum. For more information about decentralization in general and why it's important, see Decentralization – a deep cause of causes you care about deeply, written for the World Wide Web Foundation.

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How data is transforming digital marketing

Digital marketing has come a long way in the past decade, as we’ve moved beyond putting existing materials online and learned how to really harness the native advantages of digital technologies.

The pace of change continues unabated, and among its most important drivers is data – and the meaning of that data.

Every one of us is going to be producing more data describing our use of digital products and services. This is what I like to call digital detritus. Detritus – discarded organic matter which is decomposed by microorganisms and reappropriated by animal and plant life – is interestingly analogous to our regard for, and treatment of, the data that we’re all shedding.

Big data

When it comes to the increase in data, we’re working on a logarithmic scale: we’re talking about hundreds and thousands of times more. Data in such quantities may well prove to have important new mathematical properties that are attractive to marketers, customer service and product development teams. Moreover, we don’t actually do much with the digital detritus today – it mostly resides in inaccessible log files, although the technology for collating it is becoming increasingly achievable and affordable.

What does this mean in everyday terms? Read more