A Decentralised systems use functions to acquire data, that is often called ‘Peer to Peer’. The term ‘peer to peer’ has had some very bad connotations put upon it, through its capacity to be used for narfarious purposes, which has been the subject of very successful product commercialisation and related press coverage. In-turn, many think ‘peer to peer’ is a bad quality, rather than considering the merit of the technology or its purpose. Many people do not know, that ‘peer to peer’ technology runs on every computer as a basic and mandatory requirement for internet technology. The way systems find internet addresses, is a ‘peer to peer’ application.
The technical Meaning of ‘peer to peer’ essentially means that two entities are able to communicate without authority, inclusion, conference and direction of a mediating entity.
A sociological example would be to consider a centralised system, as a method that requires two parties to communicate via a lawyer. The lawyer has specific language they prefer to use, and will interpret the communications between two entities on their behalf. Perhaps Both parties have Lawyers and the lawyers communicate. When working with lawyers, lawyers often prefer that the parties do not communicate without the presence and utility of the lawyer.
In this way, Centralised systems share a similar trait as an individual who is represented by a lawyer. They are unable to communicate directly, and as such need to transmit and receive information via their lawyer.
A peer to peer application is like a multitude of entities communicating directly to each-other, without the need for lawyers.
Just because an application uses Peer to Peer communications, do not mean that people are not accountable for what they transmit / receive. The flaws in internet technology relating to accountability can arguably be fixed through the use of peer-to-peer technology, in ways simply not capable for centralised systems. Computer systems are not similar to verbal conversations in person. Computers record all data put upon a system, until such a time as a command is sent to that machine that it is ok to delete the data; and most-often even after that command has been received by the computer, that the area for storing the information on the computer is reused to store something else.