Tim Berners-Lee, Solid, and the arrival of the Web 3.0
Kurt Bauer Oct 7
Everyone was living their best lives last weekend, waking up and sipping on some tea or getting their laundry done. It was a weekend like any other weekend. But at the same time, it was in 2018 when the Web 3.0 officially kicked off in full force.
The Web 3.0, you say?
To understand where the web is heading, we should take a moment to observe where it came from. Similar to how the history of humanity was not being tracked, learned, and cataloged until later on, many in the tech industry are now starting to refer to the web's history in 3 phases.
During the Web 1.0 phase, information was only being regurgitated straight to users by large media corporations. In this birth phase of the internet, much like toddlers who have very limited forms of communication, users were only coming to the web to read information. This was a time period where static HTML sites reigned supreme the the dinosaurs of old, while users could only jump from hyperlink to hyperlink in read-only formats. Here there was access to resources via our favorite protocols (Get, Post, Put, Delete). If there was one thing to look back on and reminisce, it was the independence of devices and software.
The Web 2.0, what we left behind
At this point, the web begins to generate more services and start developing web apps that that have a larger focus on collaborative power for users. People are now adding their own personal information through little known companies like Digg, Flickr, and YouTube. In this phase there is a melding of information providers and creators, as site begin to distribute among one another.
Companies like Myspace, MSN, Facebook and LinkedIn pitch their "solutions over products" approach to users that are seeking to make their lives easier. A major factor that changes is now corporations are attempting to appeal to users by making them feel unique and special. Users are handed tools like blogging, social networking, contributing to RSS and podcasts. Unlike in the web 1.0 version where companies where making money off of views, here they start to make money of each click. Here the change that has occurred is a social one, but technically it's very much like web 1.0.
You are here ---> The Web 3.0
Through the web's growth it's been gathering a sort of kinetic energy with all the data that it's accumulated. This data is ready to take the web from it's walking 2.0 phase, to it's sprinting 3.0 phase. We are entering the web of data, which is being achieved through machine learning and the mobility of our technological devices/IoT.
The commonality that these 3 phases of the web have had is that they are grand paradigm shifts in how we, both users & developers, interact with the web. Let's not forget that computers are founded on science, and one of the key pillars of science is that it's ever changing and nothing is written down as immovable holy scripture.
Sadly the Web 2.0 was more of an improvement on what 1.0 had been, like a major update. So 1.0, a throw-up of information, 2.0 was our dynamic web app phase, and 3.0 is slated to be a reinvention, a renaissance. The articles that you will tend to find online when looking up "web 3.0" are typically looking at it as the coming age of machine learning and it's automation of out web surfing in general. Here is where my view would primarily diverge. I believe that 3.0 would be a two-phase saga, where first we will have to take on the enormous responsibility of securing our data troves before launching into hyper speed.
The examples are endless, from Cambridge Analytica and their Russian handlers, to China and it's CURRENT Orwellian, weaponized use of technology, to CCTV and facial recognition. We are being cataloged, tagged, and tracked on a daily basis. The scary fact is that because these entities don't need to physically touch us, we put up no fight whatsoever.
Tim joins the battle for the net & our technological selves, with Solid
I'm sorry that I'm not sorry, not at all, but I've been having a hyper-nerd out attack all week when trying to sum this all up to anyone since first reading about this through a tweet from @timberners_lee September 29th (yes, I will never forget the date). I'm currently at a 4 day career fair event that Flatiron Code School is holding at their WeWork Dumbo location, in Brooklyn. And I've been working on this post since last weekend. I just can't soak up enough of what's been set in motion by Inrupt, the company that is helping Tim with his project, Solid.
I too hadn't paid attention when Lee was discussing this at the Decentralized Web Summit 2018.
Within Solid, decentralization means choice: being able to choose where you store your data, independently of the services you want on top of that data. On today’s Web, applications happily take our data in exchange for functionality, but we lose control over what happens to it. Moreover, because data is coupled to the service, we cannot share data across social network boundaries. In Solid, you instead remain the data owner: you decide for every single piece of data you produce where you want to store it. Applications can request permission to specific parts of people’s data, which they combine at runtime into a personal experience. In this talk, we will explain the Solid project, its underlying philosophy, and its future plans.
Lee gave a talk explaining that at the beginning of the web, anyone could contribute to the web, but since then large companies like Facebook or Google have walled of our data in silos. He explained how the internet had been designed to be decentralized, and that the work being done by Solid and everyone else at that summit, was to bring the web back to it's state of freedom and creativity.
Lee goes on to explain that there's an assumption that users of the web or okay with getting services for free in exchange for their privacy in the form of data. But this is a myth, he exclaims, it doesn't have to be this way and no one is happy.
It is the goal of Solid to separate apps from the data life blood they've been feasting on from users. Control of data and who to give access to it should be back in the hands of the users of the web instead of the behemoth companies that have built moats around it and charge us a toll to cross every time we want to share data with friends that are on different applications.
At one point during the QA portion, someone asks Lee what he though the best way to get the word out about decentralization is, to which he responded, "This!".
Lee calls for a social revolution through decentralization, and when asked to pick 3 of the most promising projects. But Lee refused, stating that like all of the works at a site building a rocket are important, from the people bringing gas to those setting the trajectories for it, so too are all of the developers participating in this important.
For decentralization to succeed we all have to drink the kool-aid, and join the web 3.0 revolution!
Things will change for the better as long as we learn, love, and code.