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Towards decentralized city building

One of the
most profound shifts taking place today – because of new technologies – is
that of decentralization. I’ve written about this before, but I keep coming
back to it because I find it so fascinating.

happening to varying degrees, but as a general trend, I believe it is leading
to better data (less information asymmetries), more efficient markets, and the
removal of many middle people. In the past, some intermediaries were necessary in
order to act as proxies for portions of the market. But I believe that is

So what’s
an example of this? Bitcoin. Bitcoin is an example of decentralization because
no one entity controls it. It operates through a decentralized public ledger.
And because of this, it has the potential to be highly disruptive to the way we
think about currencies today.

Put another
way, I see decentralization as a way to leverage the wisdom of crowds. I am
convinced that large groups of people can be incredibly intelligent when they’re
allowed to contribute in the right ways. And I think this could solve many
different problems, from the infighting we see within cities to broader market phenomena.

As another example,
there’s something new in the venture capital space called DAO – which stands
for Decentralized
Autonomous Organization
. Essentially it’s a decentralized VC platform based
off of a Bitcoin derivative currency.

But perhaps
the most noteworthy and relevant feature is that it allows its large pool of
investors to anonymously vote on which investments to pursue. This is in
contrast to a more centralized approach where an investment committee would
meet behind closed doors in a big boardroom and make a decision. This would be the
more typical approach.

If you’re
not in the tech space, the above may not seem all that exciting to you. But I
see many parallels between venture capital and real estate development, which is
one of the reasons I follow the space. So I can’t help but wonder what this
trend could ultimately mean for real estate, design, and other city building industries.

I can
certainly imagine a world where the forces that shape our cities are more
collective and decentralized in nature. It’s already starting to happen through crowdsourcing, social media, ridesharing, and other online platforms.

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