- The Facts:Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the ‘World Wide Web,’ has created a new startup company named Inrupt which is poised to ‘interrupt’ the data domination and invasion of privacy of big internet companies like Facebook and Google.
- Reflect On:Can you envision an internet in which each one of us is the gatekeeper of our own data and we can all operate on the internet in an equitable way?
Facebook, Google, and the rest of the censorship and data mining cabal–you have now officially been put on notice.
Something that I hinted at in a previous article ‘Anti-Defamation League, Facebook, Google & Youtube Appoint Themselves As Official Internet Censor‘ has taken on new significance. When I said that I’m not sure the “censorship cabal” led by Facebook should really be messing with an Awakening Community, it turns out we have some pretty powerful people in the Awakening Community.
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the ‘World Wide Web’ and one of Time magazine’s ‘100 most important people of the 20th century,’ had the noblest intentions when he turned the keys of the internet over to the world for free in 1989. This awakened genius saw the potential for increased openness, connectivity, and productivity on the platform which was fundamentally designed as a medium for positive change and human empowerment.
The Emergence Of A Frankenstein
Instead, Berners-Lee has seen his creation turn into some kind of Frankenstein, as noted in this Zero Hedge article:
“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,” Tim Berners-Lee told Vanity Fair last month. “I was devastated,” he said, while going through a litany of harmful and dangerous developments of the past three decades of the web. He lamented that his creation has been abused by powerful entities for everything from mass surveillance to fake news to psychological manipulation to corporations commodifying individuals’ information.
Berners-Lee has worked in recent years in and out of different companies and advocacy groups trying to preserve the sanctity of the internet and retain its initial purpose and vision, but despite his efforts, he has seen its gradual takeover by powerful entities who have been able to centralize much of the internet’s activities, and along with this have been able to horde much of its valuable information.
Dreams Of Freedom And Openness
In the face of this, Berners-Lee and other internet activists have long been dreaming of a digital utopia where individuals control their own data and the internet remains free and open. But for Berners-Lee, the time for dreaming is over. “We have to do it now. It’s a historical moment,” he has said. Ever since revelations emerged that Facebook had allowed people’s data to be misused by political operatives, Berners-Lee has felt an imperative to get this digital idyll into the real world.
And so, Berners-Lee has launched a start-up that intends to end the dominance of Facebook, Google, and Amazon, while in the process letting individuals take back control of their own data.
Solid and Inrupt
This began with ‘Solid,’ which is a decentralized web platform that Berners-Lee designed and built with a small team at MIT over several years. It can be considered as a kind of operating system for the internet that will serve as the foundation for applications which support the decentralization of information.
On Solid, all of one’s information is under the user’s control. Every bit of data he or she 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.
He then created Inrupt, Berners-Lee’s new online platform and companythat serves as a user interface to these pods, where everything from messages, music, contacts or other personal data will be stored in one place overseen by the user instead of an array of platforms and apps run by corporations seeking to profit off personal information. The project seeks “personal empowerment through data” and aims to “take back” the web, according to company statements.
Once again, as per the Zerohedge article,
Unlike Facebook or Twitter where all user information ultimately resides in centralized data centers and servers under control of the companies, applications on Inrupt will compete for users based on the services they can offer, and only the users can grant these apps “views” into their data, making personal data instantly portable between similar applications.
“The main enhancement is that the web becomes a collaborative read-write space, passing control from owners of a server, to the users of that system. The Solid specification provides this functionality,” the Solid website says.
If all goes as planned, Inrupt will be to Solid what Netscape once was for many first-time users of the web: an easy way in. And like with Netscape, Berners-Lee hopes Inrupt will be just the first of many companies to emerge from Solid. In this way, creative developers will be able to compete with their latest and greatest interfaces to internet information, but unlike the opportunity seized by the likes of Facebook and Google, these new interfaces will never be able to ‘own’ or ‘house’ people’s personal data, and therefore the corrupt and fraudulent abuse of that data by big corporations will disappear from the internet. This failsafe is now built into the architecture of the Solid operating system.
Many of us in the Awakening Community have been upset by the assault on our privacy and our freedom by the large internet corporations, but we can take solace in the fact that sometimes these very acts of injustice are what triggers consciousness to move us forward, and enables awakened humans to fulfill their dreams of creating the next great thing that will truly empower humanity.