From Digital Feudalism to a Free Market

The Problem

The social platforms we use today are all centralized under the control of large corporations. Our conversations, our identities, private documents, and public announcements are hosted on their servers. The vast majority of people online live in a feudal society dominated by Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple and Microsoft. This is also true of small businesses, whether they sell their products on Amazon, release apps on Apple’s store, announce events on Facebook, reach their followers on Twitter, or blog on Medium. They even put their brand behind the brand name of the rent-seeking platform that hosts the infrastructure.

But the societal problem is even bigger. As a society, the problem is that our public forums, spaces and discourse take place on privately owned platforms. The mentality of “I built it, so I own it” has led to Mark Zuckerberg controlling Facebook, Jeff Bezos controlling Amazon, and so on. With great power comes great responsibility, and these companies are often held directly responsible to somehow do “the right thing” on an impossibly wide variety of circumstances. Even public interest groups like EFF admit it may be infeasible. Zuckerberg was excoriated by Congress in 2019 for not taking down certain content, but then in 2020 grilled for censoring similar content. For everyday communication online, most people are forced to trust large corporations whose interests may not align with our own. The issues of deplatforming and money in politics are actually secondary symptoms of this main problem.

The Solution

The solution is open source software that can move our digital society from feudalism into a free market. Such software is motivated by principles of agorism and distributism rather than pure capitalism. Tim Berners-Lee invented the Web, Linus Torvalds built Linux, and Vitalik Buterin launched Ethereum, but they don’t “own” it. The Web, Linux and Ethereum are permissionless for anyone to use, and this is precisely why they have led to an explosion of wealth for the world.

There was a time when America Online, CompuServe, Prodigy and MSN were the companies through which most communication online happened. People dialed in and chatted. But the open Web changed all that: companies were suddenly able to serve their websites with a large free market of hosting providers, and domain names were available to everyone.  People no longer needed to rely on infrastructure provided by AOL, cable channels, TV stations, radio stations and other gatekeepers. As a result, the Web has led to trillions of dollars in business models like E-Commerce and Software-As-A-Service, which would not have been possible otherwise. Google and Amazon could not have built their businesses on top of AOL; they were given their start precisely because the Web was open.

Today, WordPress powers nearly 40% of all websites in the world. But it is good for one-way publishing (Web 1.0) . When it comes to community software (Web 2.0), people turn to Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube to connect and interact. In order to liberate people from this feudalism, there has to be an open source solution like WordPress, but to provide an alternative to those companies. Just as the Web once provided an an alternative to AOL, MSN, etc.

At Qbix, we’ve been speaking about these issues for years, and how to fix them. Here’s our article in CoinTelegraph from October 2019, a month before Tim Berners-Lee published one in the New York Times. In 2020, he left MIT and raised $10M for a company called Inrupt to try to fix it. We founded Qbix a decade earlier, with friends and family funding. And since then we’ve built the open source Qbix Platform and reached over 8 million users in 95+ countries.

The Qbix Platform allows you to deploy your own open source Community Server, and totally own your data, brand and relationships. No more need to pay Facebook to reach your own audience. No need to worry if Apple kicks your app off their Store. You’ll always be accessible on the open Web. And if hosting on Amazon gets too expensive, back up your database and move it somewhere else. Install third party plug-ins from a growing ecosystem of developers, built on open standards. The software is yours. Do with it as you wish.

Learn more about it in the video below. If you to get in touch, back our project, or just want us to build an app for your community, fill out the form at

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