Away from the main stream media, Tim Berners-Lee's startup Inrupt, the founder of the World Wide Web, is working on Solid, a successor to the Internet.
Companies like Facebook and Google are among the most valuable companies in the world. What makes them valuable is their enormous amount of data. Mainly data they collect from users. Facebook's nearly three billion users represent a tremendous amount of data. This explains why the company is worth USD 600 billion on the January 2020 stock exchange. That is 200 euros per Facebook user. Also other major “siren serversLike Google and Twitter become rich by luring users to their server park with “free” services.
Monopolists that are almost impossible to escape
At the moment, almost everyone uses this social network. Facebook is also consuming more and more of the rest of the internet. More and more readers are leaving Facebook no more, but read news, make purchases and watch videos on the social networking site. This, of course, to the grumpiness of publishers. Because fewer readers means less advertising income and subscriptions. But not only publishers notice the disadvantages. These websites often know more about their users than they do and sell this information to the highest bidder. In 2019 it also became clear that they are increasingly involved in politics and the news. So left the banishment of Black Pete caused a lot of controversy by the social media giants Facebook and Youtube in the Netherlands. Your conversations via Whatsapp are also a valuable data source. Google and Facebook have applied for patents for detecting emotions from voice sounds.
Or is it? Enter Solid and pods
Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of WWW and with it the internet as we know it, came up with a concept, Solid. Solid, in full Social Linked Data, is based on a system where the user himself is the owner of his 'safe' with personal data: his pods (personal online data stores).
These personal data are then stored on their own server, for the more technically gifted, or on a public server. From an internet provider, for example. Each app you use then uses a portion of this data storage approved by you. So whether you use Microsoft Excel, or OpenOffice Calc, or choose Twitter, Parler or Mastodon, the data you use is in the same place. And the app can only access the data that you approve. So don't spy on your spreadsheet in your medical record. Or from your financial software in your holiday videos. You can switch painlessly from one app to another. Without your data suddenly becoming unreadable. Even better is that your holiday snaps, your love prose and your blooper videos remain under your control forever. Without a Facebook algorithm calculating your creditworthiness, chance of a divorce or your political preference.
How much chance does Solid have?
The dissatisfaction among the more thoughtful netizens is great. The major operators of siren servers have already made it clear that they don't shy away from making a profit. Unfortunately, our starting position, that of the internet users who love freedom, is difficult. The internet giants have taken over a very large part of the internet. And a lot of personal information stored. Trying to break free from their grip is tantamount to amputating a limb. So we will have to make hard and painful choices. I personally, and visionair.nl, have already partly done this.
What can we do?
Solid is looking for programmers and developers. If you want to make an existing product suitable for Solid, you can download the source code from Solid's GitHub. Or host your pods on your own web server. Do you have fiber and a permanent IP address? Then you are basically already in business. You can also host your pods at one of the participating companies.
Sources of relevant information below.