What is Decentralized?

Decentralized means that something is spread out and not controlled by one single person or group.

Imagine a big company where all the decisions are made by the boss. That's what you call a centralized system. But if you spread out the decision making power among different people in the company, that's what you call a decentralized system.

In the case of Bitcoin, it is a decentralized and distributed ledger. This means that instead of one central group controlling it, different people and groups all around the world are using it and trading it. This makes it more secure and less likely to be affected by any one group or person. Decentralization is one of the key features of cryptocurrency, as it helps to ensure that the network is not controlled by a single group and that it is more resistant to tampering. This is important for the integrity and security of the network. Another example of a decentralized system is a community garden where everyone pitches in to take care of the garden, instead of one person being in charge of it.

In simple terms, Decentralized refers to a system in which the activities of an organization, particularly those regarding planning and decision making, are distributed away from a central entity. It is a way of spreading out control and decision making power among different people or groups, which can make things more secure, fair and resistant to tampering.

Simplified Example

Imagine you and your friends want to play a game of dodgeball, but you need to choose someone to be the captain and make all the rules. In a centralized game, one person would be in charge and make all the rules, but in a decentralized game, everyone would have an equal say and work together to make the rules.

In the same way, a decentralized system is one where power is spread out among many people or things, rather than being held by one central authority. For example, in a decentralized network, instead of having one person or company in charge, many people or devices work together to share information and make decisions. This makes the system more fair and secure, because no one person or group has too much control.

History of the Term Decentralized

The term "decentralized" has a rich and multifaceted history, evolving from its initial use in political discourse to encompass a wide range of applications across various fields. Its origins can be traced back to the early 1800s, where it emerged in political discussions surrounding the distribution of power away from centralized authorities. This concept gained prominence in the mid-19th century with the rise of socialist and anarchist movements advocating for decentralized forms of governance and economic organization.

The advent of technology further expanded the concept of decentralization beyond its political roots, finding applications in computer science, economics, and social organization. In the 1960s, computer scientists like Paul Baran and Joseph Weizenbaum envisioned decentralized communication networks that could withstand censorship and failures, paving the way for the development of the internet.

The 1980s saw the emergence of cryptography, which played a pivotal role in advancing decentralized systems. David Chaum, a pioneer in cryptography, developed protocols for anonymous communication and digital cash, laying the groundwork for decentralized applications and currencies.

The term "decentralized" gained renewed significance in the 2010s with the rise of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin, the first widely adopted cryptocurrency, introduced a decentralized approach to money, operating without the need for intermediaries or centralized control. The success of Bitcoin ignited a wave of innovation in decentralized technologies, encompassing a diverse range of applications and industries.


Decentralized Finance (DeFi): Decentralized finance refers to a new financial system built on blockchain technology, which operates without intermediaries like banks or centralized financial institutions. In DeFi, transactions are processed on a decentralized network, making them more secure and transparent. Some examples of DeFi applications include decentralized exchanges (DEXs), lending platforms, and stablecoins. For instance, a decentralized exchange allows users to trade cryptocurrencies directly with each other, without the need for a central authority to process the transactions. This not only makes the process faster and cheaper but also gives users more control over their assets, as they are stored in a decentralized wallet.

Decentralized Identity: Decentralized identity refers to a system where individuals control their own digital identity and personal information, instead of relying on central authorities such as governments or corporations. This information is stored on a blockchain, allowing individuals to share only the information they choose to, and ensuring that the information is secure and cannot be altered or deleted without their permission.

Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs): A Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) is a decentralized, blockchain-based organization that operates using smart contracts. DAOs are run by code, not by people, and decisions are made by consensus among the members of the organization. This allows DAOs to operate transparently, securely, and without the need for a central authority. For example, a DAO can be set up to manage a decentralized investment fund, where members can pool their resources and make investment decisions together. The DAO can also be programmed to automatically distribute profits among members based on their contributions, making the investment process more democratic and fair.

  • Decentralized Currency: Decentralized currency, also known as cryptocurrency, is a digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography and a decentralized network to secure and verify transactions.

  • Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO): A Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) is a type of organization that operates on the blockchain and is governed by smart contracts.