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posted by martyb on Sunday September 30 2018, @11:54PM   Printer-friendly
from the make-the-web-a-web-again dept.

Exclusive: Tim Berners-Lee tells us his radical new plan to upend the World Wide Web

This week, Berners-Lee will launch Inrupt, a startup that he has been building, in stealth mode, for the past nine months. Backed by Glasswing Ventures, its mission is to turbocharge a broader movement afoot, among developers around the world, to decentralize the web and take back power from the forces that have profited from centralizing it. In other words, it's game on for Facebook, Google, Amazon. For years now, Berners-Lee and other internet activists have been dreaming of a digital utopia where individuals control their own data and the internet remains free and open. But for Berners-Lee, the time for dreaming is over.

"We have to do it now," he says, displaying an intensity and urgency that is uncharacteristic for this soft-spoken academic. "It's a historical moment." Ever since revelations emerged that Facebook had allowed people's data to be misused by political operatives, Berners-Lee has felt an imperative to get this digital idyll into the real world. In a post published this weekend, Berners-Lee explains that he is taking a sabbatical from MIT to work full time on Inrupt. The company will be the first major commercial venture built off of Solid, a decentralized web platform he and others at MIT have spent years building.

If all goes as planned, Inrupt will be to Solid what Netscape once was for many first-time users of the web: an easy way in. And like with Netscape, Berners-Lee hopes Inrupt will be just the first of many companies to emerge from Solid.

[...] [On] Solid, all the information is under his control. Every bit of data he creates or adds on Solid exists within a Solid pod–which is an acronym for personal online data store. These pods are what give Solid users control over their applications and information on the web. Anyone using the platform will get a Solid identity and Solid pod. This is how people, Berners-Lee says, will take back the power of the web from corporations.

How does Solid compare to Tor, I2P, Freenet, IPFS, Diaspora, etc.?

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 01 2018, @01:11AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 01 2018, @01:11AM (#742192)

    facebook, et al, exist because most people are mentally taxed just going to a website and screwing around. if this solid thing is only slight harder, it's a non-starter.

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  • (Score: 2) by bobthecimmerian on Monday October 01 2018, @11:41AM (2 children)

    by bobthecimmerian (6834) on Monday October 01 2018, @11:41AM (#742285)

    While I agree with your general idea, that's a needlessly rude way to put it. I pay other people to do maintenance on my car, cook better meals than I can make, fix problems with my septic system, and provide medical care for me and my family. None of them can host their own web server, but I can't do their jobs either.

    • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Tuesday October 02 2018, @03:19AM (1 child)

      by darkfeline (1030) on Tuesday October 02 2018, @03:19AM (#742624) Homepage

      The thing is, you're going going to get all of your friends to hire sysadmins to host web servers for them so they can run not-Facebook.

      Join the SDF Public Access UNIX System today!
      • (Score: 2) by bobthecimmerian on Tuesday October 02 2018, @06:59PM

        by bobthecimmerian (6834) on Tuesday October 02 2018, @06:59PM (#743003)

        No, I'm not even going to try. It would never work. As I posted elsewhere in the thread, I think realistic replacements to centralized services that actually respect user privacy and prevent censorship: 1.) cannot use centralized hosting of any kind and 2.) must be as easy to install and use as an application on an Android phone or iPhone. Anything else will leave 99% of the population where they are today, relying on centralized providers.

        Our hope for the future, if one exists at all, is in tools like Beaker browser and the Fritter project, Secure Scuttlebutt,, and so forth. I don't think they are good enough today for the average person, I don't recommend them to people outside the tech industry. But they're inching in that direction, and I think they are the only way we're going to break the centralized stranglehold on the internet.

        There are also some possibilities in the distributed computing networks as in the SafeNetwork project.