Tim Berners-Lee is worried about how tightly the Internet is controlled and wants to do something about it. “The intent is world domination,” Berners-Lee says with a wry smile. The British-born scientist is known for his dry sense of humor. But in this case, he is not joking.” In our modern world, he’s right. Cyber-wars could devastate a nation but leave every building standing.
As time has gone by the Internet has become more centralized and more controlled. Tim Berners-Lee is widely known as the inventor of the World Wide Web. We don’t use that term all that much anymore. We often use the Internet and World Wide Web interchangeably but they aren’t the same thing. The web is actually a program, an application, that runs on the Internet but is not the Internet itself. Tim Berners-Lee didn’t create the Internet. That was done much longer ago than most people realize. It was funded by the military as a means to maintain communications in the event of a nuclear war in the 1960’s.
It wasn’t until Tim Berners-Lee created a simple application to harness the potential of the Internet that it really became the household item it is today. But what it is today is so incredibly valuable that I think people have difficulty understanding what would happen if it went down or how much control of it means.
Tim Berners-Lee has created a new application that is designed to give users control over their information. “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.” My initial wonder on this is, if everyone gets a Solid Identity and Solid Pod how is that much different from a Google account?
“For example, one idea Berners-Lee is currently working on is a way to create a decentralized version of Alexa, Amazon’s increasingly ubiquitous digital assistant. He calls it Charlie. Unlike with Alexa, on Charlie people would own all their data. That means they could trust Charlie with, for example, health records, children’s school events, or financial records. That is the kind of machine Berners-Lee hopes will spring up all over Solid to flip the power dynamics of the web from corporation to individuals.”
How do people own their data? That I’m not quite visualizing. I will have to wait and see, and play around in the Solid world as it develops. As you can imagine I enjoy the Internet, I spend a lot of time there and it’s how I get to talk with all of you. There are times though when I do watch what I say because I am aware of the nature of the beat and how the data I input is taken and used by others. I am a willing participant in the trade between me and say, Facebook. I get something from them and know they get something from me. But, that said, more control over that agreement would be nice. Though I hold the product of my input they really hold all the cards.
If you are interested in learning more about this evolving technology you can visit https://solid.inrupt.com/ and https://www.inrupt.com/ on the World Wide Web.
With an ambitious decentralized platform, the father of the web hopes it’s game on for corporate tech giants like Facebook and Google.