Shorts: The Discovery Problem & Connection Portability

One of the reasons that blockchain is a great fit for DSNP is that blockchains excel at ensuring that every piece of information reaches every node in the network through a process known as “gossiping”. For communications that need to flow from a single known point to another, this is grossly inefficient. However, if the receiving point is unknown, broadcasting can help all nodes learn of new information. This is known as the “discovery problem”: How do you learn about something that you do not know even exists?

In a centralized system, the central authority chooses what the clients get to know and what they do not. The central system must be trusted to let the clients know about all the information they are interested in. To be able to remove that central authority, information must be discoverable by any node in the network and preferably without issue if nodes go offline or join later.

DSNP uses the broadcast nature of the blockchain to provide metadata that allows the existence of information to be discovered by anyone. Announcements are designed to provide as much information as needed to allow the discovery of information while providing a minimum of the information itself. This meta-data provides for efficient discovery of new data without a centrally-controlled system.

Broadcasting this metadata to the entire network is a key part of shifting control to the user. In a traditional social network for example, a user is limited in access to the information that is provided by the single centralized platform and through that platform’s blessed clients. Everything is platform-centric. A user who wants to use a different client with a different experience is penalized by losing their connections.

Today on social networks, Lock-in is Real. Many have focused on the approach of data portability, yet, portability of data does not guarantee portability of connections nor expand the size of the network as the Internet did in the beginning. DSNP and other advances are focused on connection portability instead of disconnected exported data. A shared common broadcast network makes connection portability a reality.

We don’t have to imagine a world where this has changed from being platform-centric to user-centric. In the early 1990’s AOL and Prodigy provided users with access to their network only instead of access to the Internet. Access to these networks was limited to subscribers. However, these networks floundered in the face of access to the Internet and those who tried to maintain platform-centric approaches have been forgotten. We move toward a future that is decentralized and connected, instead of the centralized and disconnected islands of yesterday.