Why I knee-jerkedly favor decentralized over centralized communications

(This post is pursuant to a discussion on twitter.)

Amongst humans, centralized communication, centralized knowledge, centralized control, and centralized power seem to go together. That makes sense, as a lot of what Power is, in these times, is the ability to define what's acceptable discourse: what things are worth talking about, and how they should be talked about.

My history with Power has not been good. I tend to be the person talking about the wrong thing, often in the wrong way.

Therefore, in any group I will tend do better if there's less centralization1.

So my bias toward decentralization is self-interested.

I feel only a little shame in admitting that. For some years, my goal has not been to be maximally efficient, maximally productive, maximally anything-that's-externally-measurable. It has been to (1) work the way I like, (2) do that productively enough that people will pay me, and (3) have the leeway to improve the way I work - just because I enjoy improving that.

So I acknowledge that total-utility-as-measured-by-money is quite likely2 maximized via centralized graphs of communication and control, but I'm interested in personal utility for me and people like me.


  1. Relatively early in my career, I had a lot of informal influence on the person at the center of a Power-web. I did there see the multiplicative effects of centralization. Odds seem against that happening again.

  2. I do worry about the truism that what increases efficiency reduces resilience: it's probably actually true. Systemic underestimation of black swans, and all that.