More than ever the news and debates over the past few months deeply underscore that we need to re-think data ownership away from server-side controlled data monopolies — and back to the user / client-side that is generating the data in the first place. The decentralized web stack and its protocols provide us with the infrastructure to accomplish this. However, the decentralized web still suffers from poor UI/UX and is missing applications that provide entry points and allow users to harness its capabilities.
Enter Textile, a company building new digital experiences by focusing on user privacy, transparency and decentralization. The team is on a mission to build applications that allow users to regain control of their personal data through digital wallets that are based on long-term user-centric ownership, with built-in encryption, granular control over sharing and permissions and linking local management to decentralized orchestration.
Textile’s first application for a digital wallet is Textile Photos. The app allows users to store, sync and share their digital photos over a decentralized web protocol (IPFS) without the need to rely on a centralized service (and servers) such as google or Facebook. Users will own their memories again. Only users have access and complete control over their encrypted pictures, which are stored permanently and immutably due to the nature of the decentralized web protocol and storage network used. Read more on the technology here.
Why start with pictures? People tend to have a more advanced understanding of ownership, vulnerability and privacy, and value related to personal photos than most other forms of data. While Textile Photos allows you to “get your stuff back” (from google, Facebook, etc), it is just the start of a journey to re-think data ownership.
If Textile can build compelling end-user applications and combine them into user controlled digital wallets, it could be a key catalyst for the shift towards users regaining control over their data. If they manage to connect these wallets through a common and open source protocol and empower developers to build applications on top of these digital wallets — the web’s application layer with all its positives can be replicated (and more) — but on users’ terms.
We have worked with Andrew since his days at Carto and told him already back then that we would be keen to back him should he ever build his own company. When he gave us the call that he was going to do so with Sander, we were happy to back them and the entire team on their mission.