Decentralization over time is an ethos that many crypto projects espouse. To date, however, few have completed this journey. Talking the talk is easy, but when it comes down to it, only a handful of projects are bold enough to walk the walk and willingly entrust their fate to the community.
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The Road to Decentralization Is Littered With Good Intentions
Decentralization today evokes the “blockchain, not bitcoin” mantra of 2016: a popular concept, but with few real-world success stories to cite. Even Facebook, in its 26-page technical paper for Libra, has gotten on the decentralization bandwagon, outlining a “roadmap for the shift toward a permissionless system.” “I’m pretty sure this would be the first time a distributed network transitioned from permissioned to permissionless,” noted Jameson Lopp. Long before Facebook took an interest in the lingua franca of cryptocurrency, numerous projects within the ecosystem expressed the desire to distribute control over time. Today, projects as diverse as Icon, Iota, Digitex and Digibyte are intent on pursuing various implementations of this goal.
To understand the extent to which it’s possible to decentralize a project, it’s first necessary to understand why. What is it about decentralization that’s so sexy in the eyes of so many within the cryptosphere? Ultimately, it all comes back to Bitcoin. There are many things that Bitcoin got right from day one, from its fair launch to its absence of a formal team that could be subpoenaed or cowed into submission. As Anthony Pompliano put it, the day Congress ordered Facebook to halt development of Libra, “Wait till Congress finds out they can’t send letters to Bitcoin.” Decentralization was and still is one of Bitcoin’s killer features.