Throughout history, society has swung a pendulum route between chaos and organization. Seeking that perfect balance between anarchy and tyranny has been the elusive goal of many social movements. When everyone is shouting, no one can be heard. It is this chaos that leads to the growth of a centralized authority. A central authority has the power to silence most voices so that a few can be heard. While this enables society to function, it greatly limits competition and efficiency. Producers and consumers coordinate through this central organization, and it has enables rules to be enforced.
When societies are small, one individual customer can easily select a business to serve their needs. When societies get large and varied, this process becomes much more difficult. More options appear and a society can get disorganized. All the options can be confusing and difficult for consumers and businesses to sort through and often a centralized middleman agency takes over the market. For example, 80% of hotel bookings are now done through three main online agencies.
Although centralized conglomerates help with coordination between producers and consumers, there are significant problems that inevitably overwhelm their usefulness. Since there are few options considered apart from these large middlemen, there is little restriction on their prices. These companies often charge far in excess of the value of the services they provide. The worst problem, however, is the practical bottleneck they form. No single organization can provide an outlet for all of the creativity in their respective industry. Even if they were large enough to coordinate each and every business transaction, the needs of each individual are simply too varied for any single organization to deal with. This is the great problem of middleman monopolies. Because they are the central coordinator, for the sake of their own corporate efficiency, all the businesses that interact with them must do so on a lowest common denominator basis. The creativity and unique characteristics of each individual business suffers because no single entity can meet the needs of an entire industry.
While this system functions, it is hardly ideal. What is needed is a new method of organization. A system whereby trust can be established between people without a large central monopoly. Also, where value and information could be exchanged directly between producers and consumers. Businesses need a structure that would be flexible enough to encourage individual creativity, and durable enough to withstand the recklessness of that very creativity. So often creativity can be disruptive and every organizational system needs to has some basic restraints. With the invention of blockchain technology, a way to accomplish these goals is becoming available. Blockchains form a transparent, immutable and universally accessible way of helping people interact with each other.
A Decentralized Authority
The earliest practical applications of blockchain technology were focused on a single type of organization, such as cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. As people became aware of the potential of blockchain technology, multi-use platform blockchains were developed. The earliest, and still the biggest of these platforms, is Ethereum. Although the technical aspect of the opensource code can be intimidating, the basic ideas are not complicated. Each person enters the Ethereum (Crypto: ETH) system on an equal footing. One identity/address is equally as significant as any other. Since Ethereum is run and verified on over 20,000 nodes worldwide, the system has no central point of failure. Each of these nodes runs the same software and is constantly checking to see that the software protocol has not been tampered with. As a result, any transaction that tries to break the basic guidelines inherent in the protocol is considered invalid and rejected by the rest of the nodes. It is this universal agreement that enables individuals that ordinarily would not be able to trust each other to function on an equal footing and in a trusted manner with every user on the network.
The most useful aspect of the Ethereum system, however, is the ability to form specialized portals for people to interact with each other. With the Turing complete code base, any application necessary can be written and run on the decentralized software. Since Ethereum is basically an open source decentralized computer with a transparent and immutable structure, anyone with the proper skills can write an application to run on it.
The Trouble with Travel
One of the areas that centralized monopoly middlemen have struck hard is the field of travel. Airlines, hotel chain giants, and political jurisdictions all take their toll on individuals wishing to go from place to place. We have already reviewed the predominance of a few middlemen in the hotel industry, and another example of this inefficiency is having to exchange currencies between jurisdictions. If an individual takes a plane to a different country, they must exchange their currency to rent a hotel room or car, etc. With a global blockchain enabling trust between vendors regardless of political borders, a single currency can be used, potentially leading to vast improvements in efficiency. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. An innovative entity called Winding Tree (Crypto: LIF) is building a network on the Ethereum blockchain that has the potential to revolutionize the travel industry as we know it.
Winding Tree, Enabling Efficiency and Healthy Competition
Winding Tree is seeking to bring back efficiency and competition to the travel industry. They are doing this by creating a peer to peer travel platform on the Ethereum blockchain. This platform will function as a business-to-business marketplace. Any business that wishes could list their inventory on this platform and any other individual/business could then search this platform. The key element in this project is that the platform will not require a central authority to manage or operate it. It will be both public and automated.
Universal Access for Individual Needs
Not only will any travel business, regardless of size, have free and open access to the platform, each business will be able to customize the way they list their inventory and interact with customers. A hotel could set up a smart contract that would offer bonuses for referrals. Travel agencies could set up software to take advantage of those bonuses and offer travel bundles to individual travelers. Because of the globally verified blockchain nature of the platform, individual travelers will have a universal way of both identifying themselves and paying for goods and services. The currency of the Winding Tree network will enable payments to be made instantly and effortlessly, even across national borders.
Setting the Standard
The beauty of blockchain technology is that while it is both universal and all controlling in its system, at the same time, it is extremely limited. On the Ethereum network the blockchain sets the universal standard for legitimate transactions. In the Winding Tree platform, the rules and contracts provide a versatile structure for businesses to interact productively, without overshadowing each other. However, there is nothing forcing any business to participate. Just as individuals can freely use the service, they can freely opt out.
What Winding Tree is doing is much different than what a centralized monopoly does through its defacto coercion. Winding Tree, with its revolutionary, decentralized platform, is leading the industry towards a new way of organizing business. By bringing efficiency and fair competition back into the travel industry, they are setting the standard that any business or industry could follow.
How to Follow for Updates
One of the best ways to stay engaged is following via Twitter: Winding Tree Twitter
Contributed by: Josh Justice Follow @josh0mattoc
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