Solid - Product Stars
Best products of October 2018


A decentralized web by Tim Berners Lee, creator of the WWW

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How does it work? What's it do? Are there kittens? 🐾
Ryan Hoover
From @timberners_lee's blog post announcement: "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." It's been nearly a decade since the Bitcoin whitepaper was published and while we've seen crypto and blockchain tech mature, it hasn't (imho) fundamentally changed the way most makers build software and the end user experience for most (...yet?). As governments impart more restrictions (looking at you, GDPR) and consumers become increasingly distrustful of data-collecting big co's, there's a growing opportunity to build something new that could fundamentally change the web. It will be super interesting to see what Tim, who has a unique background and network for something like this, does here. 🤔
Owen Far
@timberners_lee @rrhoover What if your POD get destroyed, corrupted, damaged, or stolen? I hope there'll be a way to back up that data, same way as we can easily currently do on servers. This really needs to show benefits and performance over what we currently have to be considered close to replacing the current Internet structure. We need to remember that the apps we find and use today on the Internet aren't all about accessing user data. I still think with some mindful steps towards user protection we can reach the same goals on what we currently have. Doesn't necessarily mean we need to adopt new infrastructures to have something that could fundamentally change the Web.
Arnav Bansal
@timberners_lee @rrhoover @owenfar1 What if your pod is maintained over multiple devices that you own—a pod swarm? Your data could stay in multiple locations that you either own, or have privileges over. What if this pods concept begins to ship alongside browsers, the way web3/ethereum stuff ships on Brave and Opera? The point is, it's too early to tell. The pod implementation they've provided is just a simple prototype. We're having discussions about how this could look over at the gitter group right now.
Owen Far
@timberners_lee @rrhoover @itsarnavb It's really interesting, the concept and the idea. In the end, I'm happy to see that we have people like Tim fighting for user rights and data privacy! Really excited were everything will head in the next decade.
Kwame Som-Pimpong
@timberners_lee @rrhoover Am I off base in seeing this and Blockstack as being in direct competition?
Mickael Coenca
@timberners_lee @rrhoover Was confused by your comment. Maybe I'm wrong, but I believe this project is not using blockchain technology 😱At least there is no mention of it I could find in solid's description and specs...
Cedric Amaya
I thought Pied Piper was already working on the decentralized web? 🤔
Vishnu Ks
Is there a working demo which we can try?
Amrith Shanbhag
Gautham Santhosh
please explain what this is 😢 I dont want to be the one who doesn't understand what is the new internet. This website is garbage
Arnav Bansal
@gauthamzzz Sure. It's a set of standards, the goal of which is to have user data stored with users. Along with this comes other advantages: different apps can share the same data (as long as they agree on the underlying standards). I'm currently writing about this: Imagine you use a task planning app (a todo list or calendar). In the early days of computing, your personal computer stored this data. As people began using multiple computers, and added smartphones to their lives, the "your data stays with you" model died, to be replaced by "Your data is in one or more massive data centers around the world, and is managed by a centralized app developer". Solid attempts to flip this, but without losing the benefits of device portability that the transition to cloud based apps brought. Your data is stored on your pod. *You bring your own pod. Everyone brings their own pod.* You can host your own pod, or have a pod hosted for you by a provider. The format itself allows for heavy linking between the data. You can allow applications to read and write your data as you see fit. Going back to the task planning app: your tasks are now stored on your pod. All your devices can access them, and you can switch between task applications as you see fit, with all of them using the same underlying data. Disclaimer: I'm pretty new to this myself. I stayed awake last night reading about this.
@gauthamzzz @itsarnavb Like a personal server which saves all your data in simple terms
Jozef Vaclavik
@gauthamzzz @itsarnavb Basically what Diaspora has been doing for social network for years. Except this is more universal.
Owen Far
Erick Barron
To adopt something like this would require someone like Google to jump on board. But Google and other companies don't have a single benefit from this, I think.
James Villarrubia
How does this deal with the core issue of information spread/entropy? Once I give access to my pod, that person HAS my data. I have a copy and so do they. Wouldn't this lead to the same information cross-platform crap that has been plaguing facebook? If I have POD components A,B,C,D... issued to three companies (A,B), (C), (D). What is to stop them from selling that data to each other? Now they've all got (A,B,C,D) and I'm getting creepy ads all over again?
Michael Hughes
@james_mtc Clearly not. Read the documentation. Access to a pod has restrictions the user dictates. Data spread/entropy still occurs. Not to be rude, but the entire point of the internet is to facilitate sharing data. Some bad actors within the ecosystem may very well copy down your data if you share it with them, but that is inherent to all information sharing. But, the crucial difference here is that any actor within this system that seeks to profit off systematically off of gathered data can be outed as abusing agreements with users, unless the users of said service have expressly given their consent for their data to be used in that way. Giving consent is a crucial psychological and technological distinction from the current "Facebook is free" paradigm. For example: Imagine building a Netflix-esque service that integrates with Solid. You could have a full-pricetier and a subsidized tier. The full-price is your standard Netflix except it collects 0 data about you, knows nothing about you except your WebID. Then the subsidized tier, you provide a given subset of your data, which allows them to target you. This is essentially the Hulu model, except in this case not only do you KNOW exactly what data they have, you can easily see the market value of that data (as it is reflected in the subsidized cost of the service). If this thing takes off, this is essentially breaking down the established moats that Google and Facebook have on the internet ad market. You could actually see Google still existing in this system, so long as they started paying users some dividend for the profit Google extracts from your information. (A side note: what this protocol also does, interestingly, is separates user interaction from user data in a very clear line. That is to say, a developer obviously will know how a user interacts with their service, and that data is clearly the developer's right to own and control that information. What they don't necessarily have the right for, though, is to 1-to-1 match up that user interaction to specific users.) It's really, really fascinating. I might have some of the details here inaccurate as well. Just read about this.
Denis Anisimov
No surprises it comes from the creator of WWW, as the whole idea is basically a hyperlinked web, but instead of servers we have individuals. While it seems to work well for ToDo and Mail apps, I wonder how apps that create some kind of a network (aka Facebook) or rely heavily on big data (aka Google) will actually work at scale using this concept. The biggest concern that I have is that this approach doesn't create any new end-user use cases nor improves significantly any qualities. Owning the data without controlling its full flow is just an extra burden for me as a user. From the developer point of view the only case when I would want to build my app based on Solid is when I don't need the data at all, like some purely transactional or presentational app.
Chris Messina
OMG, this is all built on RDF/FOAF? Having serious flashbacks to 2008... I don't see how this isn't DOA... why is Solid any more... solid... than previous/concurrent attempts at decentralizing [social] apps (Mastodon, Diaspora, et al)? Sigh.
Chris Messina
Maybe I meant 2009...
Stephen Silber
@chrismessina The icons and UI being used on this also look like they're from 2008
Chris Messina
@stephensilber cringe
Greg 'X' Willis
Oh sounds interesting... still have to share data to apps to access the internet. Hmmm... humans.
Shivek Khurana
This is beautiful. Almost a data nirvana where where I'm in complete control of my data. As a hacker though, I have some questions : - This essentially segregates the app from data. Data is hosted by third party providers. What happens when the app scales up ? Will the service provider also scale up to handle new loads ? - How does Solid ensure that data is always available for the app ? What if I decided to turn my pod off ? It's kinda scary building an app knowing that my db can go away anytime (at least with the current development strategies) - What data goes to Solid POD ? We don't just save personal user data inside databases. There is also a ton of meta data and logs that are indirectly related to a user. For example, the app crashed on route /login for user id 1888900833. If we start sending everything related to a user to her pod, she'd freak out looking all the gibberish. Optimistic about the first step. All the best to Dr. Lee on making the internet again 😸
See, here's my issue with things like these. And I'm absolutely gonna get grilled for this opinion in 2018's internet, but whatever, come at me. I always see the product headlines like "Made by the creator of JavaScript", "From the creator of WWW", "From high school feminist group", "From a gay couple", etc., etc. In my opinion, if a product is good on it's own, it doesn't need a big name or a specific fact about the maker slapped on it in order to get noticed and get traction. I believe that if you need to put a well known name in a HERO UNIT of a landing page, you don't really have a good product
Which is not to say I won't check it out as I have great respect for the man. But yeah, this kind of marketing needs to stop.
Which is absolutely to say that I would have never checked it out if the name wasn’t there
Jennifer McGaffey
@rdev Yeah, that's the thing - if it's only good because of (name), that's celebrity marketing and junk. But if your reaction, like mine, is "Oh! That's a person who actually has some rep in this field, lemme see what they've done now" it's a slightly different and much better reason to mention the name.
Dan Dan
if your data is hosted with a provider, what keeps that provider from harvesting your data? What makes it secure?
Onur Y.
Interesting but since there is no way to prevent apps from copying the data, I see no point. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Alexander Thomsen
It's positive to see competition in the field of decentralized web! @timberners_lee how do you see Solid compared to Blockstack?
Amokrane Tamine
Richard Hendricks is that you ?
Franco Petra 🕶
Anyone interested in this can also check IPFS.
Greg Wood
Is it a company or is it movement? Is it hardware or software? Is it for me or for developers? Is it “Solid” or “Inrupt” or “POD”? Is it contextual around me and my data or around how companies develop around the internet? How does it “start” - do i do something or do companies build it into existing infrastructure? Its trying to say so many things it doesn't adequately focus on any one. this marketing makes me so angry - this seems like such a needed and important focus that id hate to see it fail to go anywhere because people will fail to understand what is being “sold” here. Is it just me?
Greg 'X' Willis
@gregwoodcould It's not just you. Me and you can understand the "idea", but right now the "execution" of the "idea" is extremely vague. Facebookers don't understand vague.
Tristan Isham
This is kind of the ultimate product I've been looking for. Always a fan of privacy.