Solid: the new Web

“person’s hand on silver MacBook” by rawpixel on Unsplash

Personal empowerment through data

That’s the principle that drives Sir Tim Berners-Lee new Web initiative, Solid, and the company, inrupt[1] that he has formed to implement it.

Sir Tim believes that his invention has created a better and more connected world but at a price. In a blog post[2] he says:

“But for all the good we’ve achieved, the web has evolved into an engine of inequity and division; swayed by powerful forces who use it for their own agendas.”

Why?

Because the Web has become dominated by a few big players who are using our data and our attention to make huge profits. But we have little control over that data and how it is used.

Berners-Lee is going to change all that.

Solid is a way of ensuring that individuals retain control over their data — what is there and who can access it.

The POD

At the heart of Solid is the personal online data store (POD). A POD contains all of your data, is under your control BUT maybe shared with applications that you choose.

Imagine that you have a list of friends that you want to share your thoughts and your news with, via social media. You could keep their details in your POD and then, no matter which social media platform you were using, your friends would be there to communicate with via your POD.

At the moment, all the data, all the contacts that you have are stored by the platform that you are using. Your friends or contacts in Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn are entirely separate.

With Solid, it is up to you to decide which platforms have access to your data, not the platform that you are using.

You are in control, not the platform.

This, Berners-Lee hopes, will give rise to a new ecosystem, a whole new set of applications, that will be based on sharing your data. But on your terms, not theirs.

Inrupt already has funding and will be seeking more. There is already a prototype system in place (I already have a POD!) and Sir Tim is taking a year off to help guide the new company.

In an interview with the Fast Company[3], he said that his aim was no less than “World domination”.

I wish him luck.