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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) by NateMich on Monday October 01 2018, @01:18AM (3 children)

    by NateMich (6662) on Monday October 01 2018, @01:18AM (#742195)

    There has to be something more to it.

    Face/Twit/Gmail could care less about you sticking a copy of your data in some POD as long as they still have it also. If they ever do care, just require access to it to use their service.

    I have a couple of thoughts about this, first of course is that it is a bit late for this idea, sort of like what you are saying.

    The other, is that even if you stored all of your own information somewhere (and online businesses magically couldn't collect info on you anymore), they could simply demand it in order to offer you services. And people are dumb, and they would hand it over, possibly forcing you to do likewise once you find that you must also use such services due to their momentum.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 01 2018, @03:06AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 01 2018, @03:06AM (#742221)

    It's not solving privacy issues outright. It's solving the goddamn issue of being locked into an dwindling number of behemoth quasi-monopolies. Even if you don't like Facebook, you can't leave it, because that's where all your data are! All your love letters and photos and memes and "friends".

    The idea is to unlock your data, allowing you to migrate it and manipulate it as you see fit. If you want to run a super secret and encrypted private "Facebook" with your fellow neckbeards, then go ahead; migrate your data to that service. Most people probably won't.

    The whole point is to create a foundation for market competition again. Right now, there's no consumer choice, and thus stagnation and (worse) censorship. The goal is to DECENTRALIZE the web, and if some better privacy comes out of that, then great, but it's not the underlying purpose.

    Centralization is just an efficiency in a decentralized system. When a centralization goes bad, there needs to be away to abandon it, and go about the business of creating good centralizations again.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 01 2018, @04:31PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 01 2018, @04:31PM (#742345)

      Can leave it? I have never had a Facebook account. What's your point?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 02 2018, @01:08AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 02 2018, @01:08AM (#742574)