FREED Technology – Economics and Social Good of Decentralization

In 2001 I started a Peer to Peer (P2P) company, RazorPop, that used the Internet to free media from the control of giant entertainment conglomerates and give the power of choice back to consumers.  Since the late 90s there have been waves of Internet decentralization with terms like P2P, Saas (Software as a Service), cloud computing, and now blockchains.

The utilitarian nature of technology leads to an ongoing process of creative disruption.  Accelerating returns can quickly create monopolies.  Competitors out innovate them or disaggregate the business or technology.  The market becomes redefined.  And the cycle starts anew.

Technology being evil was first attributed to Microsoft, and then in addition and more recently, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon.  The evil refers to the inevitable problems of such monopolies. As the companies focus on revenues they increasingly lock in their business ecology, including customers, platform, technology, and data.  Despite their size, actual innovation slows as resources are redirected to reinforcing the market and existing products.  Both overtly and indirectly monopolies co-opt government, inhibit natural creative destruction, and crowd out actual and would-be competitors.  Economically this effect is called the monopoly rent.

Monopolies are contrary to the social good of a free and fair market, whether they’re tech or not.  It’s why technology should be freed and decentralized.

Chris Dixon has an updated take on decentralization for cryptonetworks in Why Decentralization Matters. Here is a key excerpt.

Decentralization is a commonly misunderstood concept. For example, it is sometimes said that the reason cryptonetwork advocates favor decentralization is to resist government censorship, or because of libertarian political views. These are not the main reasons decentralization is important.

Let’s look at the problems with centralized platforms. Centralized platforms follow a predictable life cycle. When they start out, they do everything they can to recruit users and 3rd-party complements like developers, businesses, and media organizations. They do this to make their services more valuable, as platforms (by definition) are systems with multi-sided network effects. As platforms move up the adoption S-curve, their power over users and 3rd parties steadily grows.

When they hit the top of the S-curve, their relationships with network participants change from positive-sum to zero-sum. The easiest way to continue growing lies in extracting data from users and competing with complements over audiences and profits. Historical examples of this are Microsoft vs Netscape, Google vs Yelp, Facebook vs Zynga, and Twitter vs its 3rd-party clients. Operating systems like iOS and Android have behaved better, although still take a healthy 30% tax, reject apps for seemingly arbitrary reasons, and subsume the functionality of 3rd-party apps at will.

For 3rd parties, this transition from cooperation to competition feels like a bait-and-switch. Over time, the best entrepreneurs, developers, and investors have become wary of building on top of centralized platforms. We now have decades of evidence that doing so will end in disappointment. In addition, users give up privacy, control of their data, and become vulnerable to security breaches. These problems with centralized platforms will likely become even more pronounced in the future.



Posted by Marc Freedman in Articles, Commentary, Economics, Entrepreneurs, Philosophy, 0 comments

Is it too late to stop the virus killing American democracy?

The Trump-sponsored Nunes memo that alleges an FBI and Justice Department anti-Trump bias represents the latest Republican break with reality when:

  • Their heads were appointed by Trump.
  • The departments are typically staffed by Republicans
  • The FBI influenced the presidential election in Trump’s favor with Comey’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails.
  • The GOP was the law and order party.

It’s Trump’s latest inept and corrosive attack on our democracy, this time to deflect attention away from the Russian investigation.

It’s a part of a much larger puzzle.  This isn’t a typical meme or swing of the political pendulum.  A fundamental change started 30 years ago when the extreme far right was infected with a certain anarchy.  The infection mutated outside the normal bounds of political convention.  American politics had no immunity.

Its goal was not to take over  government but to destroy and remake it.  The virus was unbound by tradition.

As a result, the infection spread over the years.  It leaped from person to person, from group to group.  It expanded its sphere from haters to the fearful to the docile.  It bulldozed facts, science, truth, moderation, cooperation, bipartisanship, and outsiders.  It took over the party where it started. With the normal checks and balances dissolved, the virus infected the government itself.  Yesterday it was local and state government. Today it’s the FBI.  Tomorrow the press.

We last saw this in the 1930’s. All that’s left is the naked ambition of the Boy King, the craven acceptance of enthralled acolytes, and the tyranny of the mob.

How do you explain the unchecked success of an infection that’s spanned an entire generation? Is it just a natural political mutation that incubated in the right brew of schemers, money, and power.

Perhaps.  If you’re willing to settle for an easy and neat answer.  The one they want you to have.

But I see order, the blueprint of a 30 year old plan.  This virus is brilliant, a feat of social, political, and information engineering that predicted the future that we’re at today.

Is is the inevitable endgame of unrestrained capitalism? …

A plutocratic takeover that germinated in the 1970s military industrial complex? …

The fruition of a Russian KGB operation hatched amid the deaththroes of the Soviet Union?

Or something else?

Is it too late to kill the virus when you don’t know where it came from and it’s already killing its host?



Posted by Marc Freedman in Articles, Commentary, Current events, Donald Trump, History, Philosophy, Republicans, 1 comment

Thank you, Trump

#ThankyouTrump While we all knew Trump’s presidency would be a disaster – and it is – there is much to be thankful there.  We only learn when we’re tested and the limits are pushed, which they surely have. This isn’t politics as usual.  It’s a generational aberration.  So we’re learning and thanking him for a lot.

Trump’s lack of experience, maturity, manners, dignity, grace, class, professionalism, empathy, truth telling, business sense, negotiation ability, self-awareness, and critical thinking (one could go on, but I’ll stop here)  has tested – and in many cases redefined – politics, the Presidency, and our culture.  If Americans want to be FREED, it’s imperative that all free thinkers learn from this painful experience.

We’ll update this list with your suggestions, corrections, data, and comments below or sent to us.

The Bottom Line

  • What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  While the country regresses in the short term, we believe that Trump’s extremism ultimately provides a superior environment for real change – sooner rather than later – compared to a Clinton presidency … that is if Americans don’t continue to be vigilant, engaged, and politically active.

Special thank yous

  • Activate the left.  Obama and Bernie excited millions.  But they engaged few who typically didn’t participate in voting and the normal political process.  It took the real horrors of Trump to do that, get millions marching in the streets, and create #TheResistance.
  • Accelerate social change. There have been and will be more significant social justice losses with Republicans in control of the federal government.  Those losses will eventually be reversed.  What is significant is that new change is already happening.  Consider #MeToo, the culture surrounding the harassment of women. Within a year Trump’s Neanderthal misogyny and his election gave rise to the next generation women’s movement.  You can draw a direct line from Trump’s rise to his pussy grabbing to the downfall of Fox’s Roger Ailes and Bill O‘Reilly to the disclosures bringing down many other political, entertainment, and business figures.
  • The rise of the common man.  While Trump as a billionaire is no more common than a US Senator, his election does give hope through one example that the country is receptive to candidates outside the normal political sphere, which is dominated by people who are typically male, white, straight, religious, and from the government or legal profession.

Everything old is new again

Thank you for the history lesson and reminders!

  • Rage rules. From an historical perspective, the past 50 years have been relatively sedate politically.  However earlier times have exhibited the mob mentality encouraged by Trump. Rage can be a powerful force.
  • Populism returns. Bernie Sanders’ rise signaled a return to populism.  Clinton’s campaign took notice and tacked to the left. However it was insufficient as Trump was able to take away geographically critical voters.  The combination of populism + rage + personality was just enough to beat sanity and experience.  This lesson isn’t new.  But it’s one Democrats often fail to embrace.
  • The limits of democracy.  Often a threat is insufficient.  It takes a generational attack on our institutions to see how fragile they are and not take them for granted.
  • The strength of democracy.  See above.  Trump’s blundering will affect government for decades.  But at the same time life (so far) has largely continued as normal.  The federal government was sufficiently robust and checked by state, and local government, patriotic federal government employees who placed country above party or Russian puppet, the media, and an active citizenry.
  • The Real Fake News.  Lies and fake news have been a part of politics forever.  It’s seen an asymmetric expansion on the right the past few decades as a part of the Republican toolkit (see Swiftboating and Truthiness).  Attacking legitimate media as cover for your own lies is natural, both as the next step in the evolution of this trend and Trump’s tenuous grasp of reality.  However Trump has reached a breaking point.   His lies now are so prevalent that they not only keep comics and the media busy on an hourly basis, they’ve also reached the limit where they severely damaged the credibility of anything the speaker and party says.

21st Century Rules

Donald, you, sir, are a trailblazer.

  • Connected America. Trump won the presidency by breaking the traditional rules that required government experience, expensive advertising, and extensive local ground organizations.   Instead he owned the mass, social, and partisan media and engaged a foreign government.  While it’s possible – though not clear – that mass media will be more balanced in the future, what is certain is that media, technology, and marketing are new and huge factors in the game of politics.

Could have been worse

  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) poster child.  Psychiatrists can’t ethically diagnose someone who is not a patient.  But his NPD affliction is clear to thousands of mental health professionals.  Millions of Americans now know what this sad disease looks like.
  • Not a true authoritarian (yet).  Many have feared the rise of totalitarianism and a strongman based on Trump’s rhetoric,  tweets, and inability to focus outside himself.  However this pathology – so far – appears to be more internally directed (see NPD above) than an externalized megalomania.

Lying to your own supporters

Not that they listen.  Or care. Or their media will cover or tell the truth about it.

Trump promised to support the middle class that was left behind by international trade, elites, and wealthy donors. Instead he proposed and enacted administrative rules and laws that were the total opposite.  Trump, we thank thee for these gifts.

They show your real truth and will eventually help FREE America.

  • They not only didn’t expand his core voters, but they also harmed the populist part of his base.
  • They drew overwhelming support from the Republican party, which makes both Trump and the party responsible.
  • They provide strong ammunition for future candidates that demonstrate Trump’s and the GOP’s true intentions.


Additional articles in which we’re grateful for Trump.



Posted by Marc Freedman in Articles, Commentary, Donald Trump, Philosophy, Politics, Resistance, 0 comments

The Abyss Widens

Post-modern civilization is threatened.

In the absence of global wars  the inevitable ups and down of civilization are economic.  And the the rich have been more than ready to play.  Unrestrained capitalism has corrupted the political system and created an abyss between the haves and have-nots in both Europe and the US.  The oligarchs of wealth have choreographed the rise of emotion over logic during the past 20 years, which has come to fruition with regressive authoritarian populism.  The ruling class – the haves – have expanded the abyss by changing the rules of the game.  They trump conflicts that don’t exist, ignore facts and science, and sell an alternate reality.  A billionaire was voted in the White House against the clear self-interest of his voters – the have-nots.

The good news is that progress is rarely linear.  The current Hot Tub Time Machine return to 1950s cannot be permanent. Political complacency on the left has been replaced by a new engagement. The pendulum will swing back, though the cost may be great.  Rationality will return victorious, but only after a painful lesson in humility.

One cost that’s not fully collected yet is the damage to traditional liberalism.

The continued protest on college campuses over nationalist and ultra-conservative speakers is one example.  The tumult on campus has been troubling. But it’s not just a few people or one school.  It’s easy to denigrate students and call them pampered babies.  There is something significant that is not being heard.

Ulrich Baer writes in the NY Times that the campus change is generational in What ‘Snowflakes’ Get Right About Free Speech.

During the 1980s and ’90s, a shift occurred in American culture; personal experience and testimony, especially of suffering and oppression, began to challenge the primacy of argument. Freedom of expression became a flash point in this shift. Then as now, both liberals and conservatives were wary of the privileging of personal experience, with its powerful emotional impact, over reason and argument, which some fear will bring an end to civilization, or at least to freedom of speech. …

The recent student demonstrations at Auburn — as well as protests on other campuses against Charles Murray, Milo Yiannopoulos and others — should be understood as an attempt to ensure the conditions of free speech for a greater group of people, rather than censorship. Liberal free-speech advocates rush to point out that the views of these individuals must be heard first to be rejected. But this is not the case. Universities invite speakers not chiefly to present otherwise unavailable discoveries, but to present to the public views they have presented elsewhere. When those views invalidate the humanity of some people, they restrict speech as a public good.

The pure free speech argument is a longtime liberal plank.  It has a lot of merit.  But there is a bigger picture in which to view these campus protests.   The controversial speakers are yet another example of false equivalencies.  In civilized society freedom of speech is a public good.  But we’re no longer in that idealized world when reality itself is under assault.

The campus protests illustrate the corrosive effect of the oligarchic programs on not just their followers but also the liberals on the other side.  When formerly common facts are denied, the middle ground for agreement vanishes (thus the Republican party asymmetrically becomes a party of No, not governance).  First principles are not always accurate.   Nuance becomes increasingly important and as we’ve seen with campus protest, it’s … HARD.  If it’s challenging for people committed to self-reflection, what hope is there for those in the Time Machine who don’t question Fox News? The gulf between the haves and have-nots can exponentially increase.

The pendulum will swing back.  But how far can it go when the abyss continues to widen?

Posted by Marc Freedman in Articles, Commentary, Marc Freedman, Philosophy, Republicans, 0 comments

Whose World Do You Want To Live In?

I want to tell you a story. You’ve been hearing it for the past two years.  It’s about darkness, fear, and despair.   The world is collapsing.  Our borders let in murderers and rapists.  Muslims are killing the Americans left alive.  Women, minorities, and non-Christians get preferred treatment over white men.  Billionaires and corporations should be treated as gods.  Science is for sissies.  Our national intelligence and military are not respected.  Freedom is for the chosen few.

It’s the 1950s Happy Days … or the 1930s Weimar … or 1900 BC.

That’s Trump’s story.  That’s what he wants to make great again.

I want to tell you another story, an alternate set of facts, if you please.

Once upon a time America was respected across the world. People everywhere admired the country for its rule of law, focus on the future, dynamism, individual rights, vigorous media, practicality, and openness to difference.

Government wasn’t perfect.  It allowed billionaires and corporations to corrupt institutions, cheat on their taxes,  pollute our air, water, and food, and keep most of the money at expense of everyone else.

But on the whole government was good when it could stand up for the people.  It protected the weak, provided basic health care for all, and supported the young, disabled, and elderly.  It forced everyone to respect other people’s rights and let them be who they want to be in peace. It strove to have FEWER Flint Michigan disasters, not more.

It was a time when conservative stewardship meant protecting this land not just for us, but for our children, and our children’s children … not for ever more corporate exploitation and profits.

It was a time when science,  logic, and open and transparent inquiry were respected and treasured, for they formed the basis of a good share of everyday life, from America’s military might to popular media to amazing advances in health and agriculture to the latest electronics, phones, Internet, and technology.

Despite occasional myopic, meddlesome, and, er, Trumped up wars, the U.S. exuded optimism and kept moving forward and upward.  The nation was a shining beacon across the planet for freedom and progress.

Life was good.  Many were happy.  All the women were strong, the men good looking, and the children above average.  And not just the white folks.  Too bad the kids weren’t as excellent at school as other first world countries and were taught the world revolved around them.  But they typically grew up to be fine citizens and weren’t sheep.  And we still managed to out-innovate everyone else.

This time was 2016.

So, forget the rhetoric and politics.  Ask yourself one question.  OK, just a few actually.

What time do you want to live in?

What world do you want to live in?

What will you do to make your world a reality?

Be FREED. Not Trumped.

Posted by Marc Freedman in About, Articles, Commentary, Inspiration, Marc Freedman, Philosophy, Politics, Resistance, Society, 0 comments

Make America Great Again … Again

The past 50 years have seen more innovation than the rest of the entire 200,000 million year history of modern man.  The tidal wave of change has finally caught up to society.

The world is in flux. Media has exploded. The election of a TV celebrity to President shows the power today of mass media and the Internet to catapult neophytes to stardom and insulate people in their own tribes.

Capitalism has run amok. The rich have continued a multi-decade march to reshape society in their image and own the government. They’ve destroyed liberalism and unions, which have given a voice to the common man.   They’ve destroyed the checks and balances of American civilization that enabled a thriving middle class.  As a result income inequality has robbed an entire generation of the promise of a better future.  The ultimate expression has arrived today with a billionaire in the White House who lives in a different reality of alternative facts and has brought his fellow billionaires to play and dismantle the government.

Many despair. Some withdraw. Others fight. A few cling to the old activism.

There is another choice. A new model for a new time.

We can make American great again … again.   Here is how.

  • Use the power of the Internet to connect and grow.
  • Conquer a weak brand with a stronger brand.
  • Embrace the madness with absurdity and humor.
  • Turn to the light and the love.
  • Revel in facts and logic.
  • Think for yourself.
  • Join a growing resistance of millions.
  • Take back power for yourself, your community, and your country!

Get FREED.  Not Trumped.

Posted by Marc Freedman in About, Articles, Commentary, FREED Brand, Inspiration, Marc Freedman, Philosophy, Politics, Resistance