To dislocate over a larger area. Often used in the computer world to remove a single or centralized structure either to allow greater outside participation and/or to make it more difficult to attack.
In the computer world, decentralization most frequently refers to a file sharing and networks like Gnutella. One of the goals of current p2p development is to decentralise functionality, eg with distributed hash tables. This sort of autonomous distribution structure comes the elimination of the need for any centralized core.
Concept and development
Decentralization allows each peer, or participant, to communicate as an equal to any other peer. Some decentralized networks like Gnutella were designed specifically to weather an attack, as in the case of Napster's legality hurting all users.
These networks have no body to attack, only individual members or users.
An early example of decentralization is the TCP/IP protocol designed to withstand extreme forms of attack through some decentralization and foundation of the Internet. Many peer-to-peer technologies are far more decentralized and also far more robust, making them attractive to both business and the military.
Often, decentralization is cited as the example of how a system can at least theoretically be made immune to outside influences, specifically in those arguments claiming that any one member persuing illegal activities can threaten all members.
Crossing physical boundaries
As networks continue to cross legal and national jurisdictions, this prevents the effective prosecution of an entire network, sometimes of copywrited materials, possibly prompting a larger authority, such as in the case of the World Copyright Treaty.