A close observer might say that the recent experience with decentralization is that it often leads to an unanticipated re-aggregation that creates extraordinary market power and financial returns. This is certainly the story of the TCP/IP and HTTP protocols that are the foundation of the Internet. Those protocols radically decentralized the creation and distribution of media and fundamentally changed the structure of the media industry. But the challenge in this newly decentralized world was discovery. When media was defined by distribution, the newspaper, radio station or cable franchise decided what was available to you. In a world where anything was available, the hard problem was finding what you want. The answer was search. And Google, whether they fully understood it or not, stepped in to meet that need and reaggregated human attention is a way that created an enormous amount of market value.
And that is where we are today. We still are overloaded with content and heavily search dependent. Brad argues in his piece that an open source protocol called “Open Bazaar” by OB1 may be a step forward. There are concerns, but Open Bazaar may be able to create a more seamless market environment.
There is another way of lo9oking at this. We search AFTER we have decided that we need something, whether that something is information, products, services or whatever. in other words, search is a post decision service platform. Search is less effective in helping us before we have formulated what we want. In other words, it can help us decide which shirt to buy, but not so much whether to buy a shirt at all.
What kind of service helps us there? the answer has to do with the processes we use to add value. We add value within frameworks. So, for example, as a lawyer, I add value via the framework of a legal system. I provide access to it and products from it. I do not control, however, what kinds of services that the framework can offer. The framework is bigger than I am.
We rely on these frameworks to support us. Indeed, we could not survive long without them. And yet, we also know that these frameworks are limited. And frameworks limit our choices. The major step forward, therefore, should be in how we can make frameworks more friendly and accessible.
You might think of this as market creation. And I think this is what OB1 wants to achieve with Open Bazaar. The power to create frameworks that we want rather than just to be stuck with the ones that others created for their own purposes.