Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the developer of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), wants to disrupt the web status quo, but returning control over data access and storage to end users.
Berners-Lee’s new startup, Inrupt, is pushing for adoption of an open source platform which could decentralize the web. The platform, known as 'Solid,' takes aim at the current digital data model in which a relatively small number of dominant web players maintain significant access and storage control over the majority of end-user information.
In the Solid scheme, end users retain all of their digital data in personal online data stores, or 'pods.' End users will be able to create their PODs and link them it to other trusted PODs. But sice they are using a bunch of different apps in their everyday lives, it would be complicated, inconvenient and lots of data will be living in lots of different places. In order to have fluid, useful and controllable experienced that lets them streamline their daily personal and professional productivity, users will be connected to their trusted Solid app. PODs will be stored on web servers running on the Solid platform. Users can maintain their own servers in their home or office, or they can tap third-party providers to manage the Solid server.
Users give people and their apps permission to read or write to parts of their Solid POD. Whenever users are opening up a new app, theyr don’t have to fill out their details ever again: they are read from your POD with users' permission. Things saved through one app are available in another: users never have to sync, because their data stays with them.
This approach protects privacy but also allows developers to build apps without harvesting massive amounts of data first.
Three years ago, Mastercard underwrote funding for the Solid project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where Berners-Lee is a professor.
Earlier this year, Berners-Lee launched Inrupt, a company with the mission is to ensure that Solid becomes widely adopted by developers. So far, Inrupt has attracted more than 40,000 developers to Solid.
Solid's success will depend on how effective will developers be in crafting applications that will drive distribution to end users.