For some time now, Sir Tim Berners-Lee – the father of the World Wide Web – has been leading a team working on a technology platform called Solid, the aim of which is to allow users and organisations to ‘separate their data from the applications that use it’. To the non-technical, it may not sound ground-breaking, but the result will certainly be radical. For those of us who have been working to decentralize the web and take back power from the forces that have profited from centralizing it, it’s an exciting step towards an internet that is free and open for everyone.
Ever since revelations emerged that Facebook had allowed people’s data to be misused by political operatives, Berners-Lee tells Fast Company, he has felt an imperative to get this digital utopia – where individuals control their own data – into the real world. His new company, Inrupt, will provide the resources required to take Solid ‘from the vision of a few to the reality of many.’
“I’ve always believed the web is for everyone, which is why I and others fight fiercely to protect it,” says Berners-Lee. “The changes we’ve managed to bring have created a better and more connected world. But for all the good we’ve achieved, the web has evolved into an engine of inequality and division; swayed by powerful forces who use it for their own agendas. Today, I believe we’ve reached a critical tipping point, and that powerful change for the better is possible – and necessary.”
Matt Wallis, SEA’s technical lead on our Open Data and Mapping the Solidarity Economy work, welcomed the news:
“I’m very excited to hear about the launch of Inrupt. This is a brilliant example of using the power of technology to disrupt the monopolies held by huge corporations. The corporations have proved time and again that they cannot be trusted with our data.
“On a technical level, we’ve been monitoring the progress of Solid with excitement for some time. It’s built on the same technology of Linked Data that we selected a couple of years ago as the best solution to distributing the data we, and others, are gathering about the projects, groups and initiatives within the solidarity economy. The maps we are working on are powered by data that can be distributed anywhere on the web, and which can remain fully under the control of those who provide it. As we move into the next phase of our development work, we’ll continue to keep abreast of the progress of Solid; and who knows, perhaps we’ll be using some of the tools directly offered by Inrupt in the not-so-distant future, too.”
“These are really exciting developments,” Colm Massey, SEA’s ODM team member, adds. “There’s a great opportunity for the platform co-op movement to work with and engage Inrupt. We’re also wondering – what difference would it make if Inrupt was co-owned by its users? For example, the ability to crowd fund from them, rather than being reliant on venture capital, would truly keep it independent.”
Read the full story in Fast Company.