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Centralization & Decentralization

By definition, the two are the antitheses of one another.

Essentially, if something is centralized, there’s a single point that does all of the work involved in any given action. On the flip side, if something is decentralized, there are multiple points that do the work.

Think about it this way: the US government is split into both centralized and decentralized parties. In this case, the federal government is centralized. This is because it resides in Washington, DC, and all decisions are made from this particular location. On the other hand, state governments and legislatures are decentralized because there are 50 spread throughout the United States. The states must work in tandem, in order to be a cohesive unit, while the federal government works as a single unit.

Big Names in the Game

Systems are either centralized or decentralized. Both types of networks currently exist, and you’ve more than likely interacted with or heard of at least one of each.

  • Centralized platforms require all data (communications/information/etc.) to enter into, and leave through a central hub. That is to say, you physically can’t send or receive any information without it going through that single point, which is often a private server or hub.
  • Unlike centralized platforms, decentralized platforms do not require information to pass through a single point. Instead, many points connect, known as a peer-to-peer (P2P) network.

When you download a torrent file, you are interacting with a decentralized network. Torrenting is essentially the sharing of a particular file across a large network. Let’s say you want to download a copy of your favorite movie, from a popular website such as Pirate Bay. When choosing the best file to download, you’ll notice two numbers dubbed “seeders” and “leechers.”