A Solid Idea

Paula LaBrot

Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, gave it as a gift to the world and never profited directly from it. He made his idea open sourced…anyone could access and use the code. He made it possible to connect in an instant with people worldwide.

Right now, however, he is mad and is doing something about it!

WHAT IS SIR TIMOTHY MAD ABOUT?

Berners-Lee is deeply disturbed by the abuse of the World Wide Web. He invented the World Wide Web to serve humanity, not to exploit it. He is pained by the gathering of data by social media giants for politics. He writes about his devastated feelings resulting from the Russian/North Korean/Chinese trolling and hacking, interfering with elections, pitting groups of people against each other. He doesn’t like the surveillance and privacy violations by Big Tech or the chaos fake news produces, so…

…he is coming to the rescue with a new platform.

WHAT IS A PLATFORM?

A platform is a structure that serves as a foundation or base. The Central Processing Unit (CPU) of your computer is a hardware platform. Your operating system (Microsoft, Linux, Apple) is a software platform that allows the computer to communicate to its different parts. The Internet is a network platform that allows geographically separated computers to talk to each other.

The World Wide Web is a platform that Berners-Lee developed. This platform allows users to jump from one document, website, audio, or video file to another by clicking on a hot link written in hyper-text mark-up language (HTML).

Platforms are built one upon another and Berners-Lee is hard and passionately at work building a new one to put on top of his World Wide Web platform to help us preserve our privacy and autonomy.

SOLID

You, my beloveds, are going to be among the first laypeople to learn about this new platform project, Solid, and it’s a paradigm-shifting doozy!

According to InfoQ.com, “Solid is a new decentralized identity platform from Sir Timothy that provides a mechanism for users to own and better control the usage of their personal data.”

Right now, users trade personal data for services. When you sign up for an App, you give away control of a lot of your personal information by agreeing to the small-print-endless-no-one-reads-them terms of service (TOS). You acquire a service, but, as my Father said over and over again, nothing is free. You pay with personal information: name, address, e-mail, credit card, bank information, contact lists, receipts, etc.

Solid intends to give users control over where that data is stored, who can access it, and which apps to use. This is all about de-centralizing the Web.

“People want to have a Web they can trust,” Berners-Lee says. “People want apps that help them do what they want and need to do without being spied uponthat don’t have an ulterior motive of distracting them with propositions to buy this or that.”

To develop Solid, Berners-Lee has created a new startup called INRUPT, an open-sourced project that invites code writers around the world to contribute to the development of the platform. It will create opportunities for new apps, businesses, products, and services…a whole new web eco-system. It’s exciting and full of optimism and digital idealism. It is attracting digital activists who want to use the power of the Web to serve humanity.

While Big Tech is busy making lucrative deals, cooperating with governments to censor web access and content, Vanity Fair reports, “In India, a group of activists successfully blocked Facebook from implementing a new service that effectively would have controlled access to the Web for huge swaths of the country’s population. In Germany, one young coder built a decentralized version of Twitter called Mastodon. In France, another group created Peertube as a decentralized alternative to YouTube.”

These digital idealists and others like them have been and will be welcome to contribute to the open-sourced Solid platform, and they are doing so.

Big Tech won’t go down without a fight to protect their profits that are in the double/triple-digit billions, but by next month, half the world’s population will be connected online, and Berners-Lee is driven to protect users from the sinister power data-driven Big Tech wields.

In his own words, “I’ve always believed the Web is for everyone. That’s why I and others fight fiercely to protect it. 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 inequity 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.”

I so want to have lunch with this man.

Vamos a ver!

Paula LaBrot
Paula LaBrot

Paula LaBrot is a 30-year resident of Topanga, a futurist with a special interest in the uncharted waters of cyberspace. plabrot@messengermountainnews.com

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