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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: 4, Insightful) by bobthecimmerian on Monday October 01 2018, @11:24AM (2 children)

    by bobthecimmerian (6834) on Monday October 01 2018, @11:24AM (#742282)

    I prefer (also fully open source) to NextCloud and run my own server for that. However, I think Sandstorm, NextCloud, and Solid pods are not a worthwhile solution for the general public. My wife isn't going to run one. My brothers aren't going to run one. The only thing they would do is pay some other company to run it for them. Or maybe, just maybe, have some big company host it for them without any direct fees in return for having integrated advertising and data collection embedded in the product.

    Sound familiar? Even if Solid is an open standard, I think it will lend itself to the same centralization we have today.

    Instead, I think people looking at a decentralized web will get the biggest privacy benefit for the average person by focusing on tools that don't require any kind of traditional server. Something like Bittorrent for social networks, really. I think Secure Scuttlebutt ( [] ) and ( [] ) are a start. I'm hopeful the dat project with Beaker browser and tools like Fritter could be even better ( [] and [] ). When your own device is the server, there's no space for Google/Microsoft/Facebook/whatever to muscle in.

    Reliable backups are a headache, though, and I don't have an answer for that. I mean, I have my own automated backups in place. But if the average person sets up their own distributed peer for some service on their own device, and then their phone dies and they lose all of their data, they will go running right back to Facebook. So backups of some kind need to be part of the solution.

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  • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Monday October 01 2018, @08:04PM (1 child)

    by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Monday October 01 2018, @08:04PM (#742446)

    See? This is why I browse this site.

    There I was, being more or less happy with Nextcloud, installed on Turnkey Linux, which is easy and then I get a reply like this.

    Now I have to look at, which might be awesome. Thanks Mr. Cimmerian.