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What is Decentralization?

November 4, 2021

Many users don't understand what it is to be decentralized - they often state that: "the process of creating an account on SoMee, to post onto the blockchain should be so simple that the user has to do NOTHING to get this done." But, to see if that's possible, we first have to understand the difference between being CENTRALIZED and DECENTRALIZED.

What is Centralization?

To state something is centralized is to say that it all happens in ONE place or the control of ONE entity - for example, Facebook is a centralized application. Why? Because their user base, database, content base, are all controlled by a single company: Facebook. The same goes for Twitter, LinkedIn, and almost every other platform. So, at any time, Facebook and these companies can go ahead and restrict access to the user data, content data, and site data, to prevent users from doing actions on the network. And, at their discretion, they can use that data in any shape or form, even without the users' permission.

To state, in the blockchain space, that something is centralized is often a negative thing. After all, taking the control out of the USER's hands and relying on a company to manage control is a difficult thing to swallow for most. They want to make sure their money, their tokens, their information is always within their control.

What is Decentralization?

"The transfer of control of an activity or organization to several local offices or authorities rather than one single one" -- This is the classic definition of what it means to be decentralized. To put that in more simple terms:

Instead of a single company controlling the database, the data is stored on multiple nodes of a single blockchain, such that if one node goes down, the other nodes still have the data, and the user can maintain their data.

Think of it like if you were using your bank - you want to make sure you have 100% control of your money at all times - and always have access to it, regardless of the bank's condition. The money is held on the blockchain ledger, and there are thousands of nodes out in the world that help replicate that information across the network, thus giving broader reach for the bank. In Ukraine, the nodes went down, and the bank had to close down due to political issues. That's unfortunate, but it doesn't affect the ability of the user to obtain their money because nodes throughout the world already have the data on there. So while the bank is closed, the capital and access to the funds are not dependant on the bank being open. Instead, they are on the nodes so that the user can access the money.

When you extend that to social media, you have to ask yourself:

  • Who is in control of my data?
  • If the main site/project goes down, who has my data?
  • Can i access and use my data at anytime?
  • Can someone STOP me from using my data or the service at anytime?

For all of the questions above the reality, today is that the company that operates social media can control all of it - it's a very centralized system. So even if an application CLAIMS to be fully decentralized, unless there are many other nodes out there, being operated by many other witnesses, and their entire business logic to include application logic is hosted on the blockchain, they are at least in SOME WAY centralized.

SoMee wants to change this

SoMee wants to be one of the first social media applications that are TRULY decentralized - this means:

  • Site logic
  • Site application data
  • Site content
  • User information
  • User data
  • User content

It is all stored on a decentralized system, such that witnesses can spin up any other design or node throughout the world to extend the reach of SoMee and still allow users to post and interact with the blockchain in a secure and friendly way.

To accomplish this, we are implementing:

  • Stratos decentralized data storage - which is a storage engine that allows us to store data in the cloud (like we do now), but on secure blockchains replicated throughout the world, so that no one node is resposnible for the data
  • Stratos decentralized database - which is a database engine that allows us to store application data and logic on the decentralized database hosted on many nodes thorughout the world.
  • Stratos decentralized computing - which allows the entire business logic and frontend of somee to operate on the cloud, and will eventually support our microservices to be able to talk to the database and storage engines.

To accomplish the concept of a decentralized monetization promise, SoMee is also introducing a multi-chain monetization approach - meaning we will allow the posts that are created with the SoMee platform to be posted on multiple blockchains and then pay out the user the native token on that chain as a reward once the post has tips to offer.

That's just a fancy way of saying we'll post your post to multiple places, not just our database.

But what does this require?

It does require you to have an account with the blockchains we support - this means you must either have a wallet, or an account already linked with that blockchain, to allow us to interact with that chain when posting on your behalf.

Why doesn't SoMee create the accounts for us?

Think about what you just asked. If we created the accounts FOR you, who is in control of that account? Is it YOU? Is it SoMee? Do you really know? If someone else creates your account FOR YOU, they can control that account, even if all they do is give you the login details on the screen. That's not a very friendly and secure way to manage a budget, let alone your security.

So users must create their accounts and be able to LINK them to SoMee. This is what we are doing with HIVE and HIVE SIGNER right now.

As of 11/2021:

Users can monetize their posts if they a) create their account on HIVE and b) link their hive account with SoMee.

If they do these two actions, they'll be able to obtain monetization for their posts. And, the user can CHOOSE which post to monetize. This means that if they ran out of credits to post on the blockchain (HIVE) or don't wish to monetize the post, then the post would simply be retained on the project network, not on the blockchain network.

The benefit here is that you will always be able to post, even if it's not monetized. After all, SoMee wants to be your voice in the unfair world of social media and the geopolitical state of the current unstable world we have.

The Onus is on the User

While SoMee will do everything it can to make the process smoother, untimely, the user is still responsible for creating their account on whatever service they would like to LINK to SoMee. Be that monetization, posting to other services, or using other services on SoMee - think 3Speak and Presearch, for example. SoMee cannot be held to the standard that we must sync all your data with these companies without SOME interaction from the user to authorize us. That would be considered unsafe and not realistic.

That's why the onus is on the user.

True decentralization is a hard thing to accomplish - and while other smaller projects claim to post stuff on the blockchain and that all posts, all actions are always on the chain - you have to consider what that means - just because it's on the blockchain doesn't mean it's decentralized - and just because they have multiple nodes, doesn't mean that node ownership is delegated away from their network. True decentralization takes control away from a single authority and gives it to numerous sources, and right now, not a single project has this accomplished.

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