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article imageTim Berners-Lee plans to re-decentralize the web

By Tim Sandle     Nov 11, 2018 in Internet
Professor Tim Berners-Lee has lifted the veil off a project called Solid, which is an attempt to re-decentralize the World Wide Web and is run from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Solid (Social Linked Data) is a new web decentralization project, which "aims to radically change the way Web applications work today, resulting in true data ownership as well as improved privacy". This takes the form of a platform for linked data applications, which are completely decentralized and fully under users' control rather than controlled by other entities.
In its present from, Solid is "a proposed set of conventions and tools for building decentralized social applications based on Linked Data principles. Solid is modular and extensible and it relies as much as possible on existing W3C standards and protocols."
When the World Wide Web entered into the mainstream during the 1990s, the aim of its founder Tim Berners-Lee was-to have something globally distributed, a place where anyone could have their own home page and where each user would own their own data in a web formed of nodes joined by links, with no center. Things have changed considerably, with a range of companies 'owning' ad hosting the data of users.
Concern that the original vision has slipped, Tim Berners-Lee has developed an alternative. Quoted by Vanity Fair, Berners-Lee says: "For people who want to make sure the Web serves humanity, we have to concern ourselves with what people are building on top of it."
Recent events that concerned Berners-Lee include Russian hackers interfering with the 2016 presidential election; Facebook exposing data on over 80 million users to Cambridge Analytica to Donald Trump’s election campaign; and Facebook's 2012 secret psychological experiments on some 700,000 users.
To address what he sees as the misuse of the 'monster' he created, Berners-Lee been developing Solid, which he hoped will reclaim the Web from corporations and return it to its democratic roots. The aim is that through using Solid, online users can keep their data wherever they choose, rather than being forced to store it on centralized servers.
Writing on Medium, Berners-Lee outlines his new vision: "Solid changes the current model where users have to hand over personal data to digital giants in exchange for perceived value. As we’ve all discovered, this hasn’t been in our best interests. Solid is how we evolve the web in order to restore balance — by giving every one of us complete control over data, personal or not, in a revolutionary way."
Those who wish to engage with the formative months of Solid can help out the Solid ecosystem by contributing to the development of Solid itself, and related infrastructure and by developing apps using Solid.
More about Internet, Web, World wide web, Solid
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