Last week Tim Berners-Lee announced the launch of Inrupt, on the company blog. Co-founded with entrepreneur John Bruce, Inrupt is intended to function as the ecosystem for long-running decentralised web project, Solid, an open-source project to restore the power and agency of individuals on the web.
Of Solid, Berners-Lee says: “It changes the current model, where users have to hand over personal data to digital giants in exchange for perceived value. As we’ve all discovered, this hasn’t been in our best interests. Solid is how we evolve the web in order to restore balance – by giving every one of us complete control over data, personal or not, in a revolutionary way”. It’s a platform built from the existing web, which gives users clear choices on how and where to store data, and who to share their data with.
Although he invented the world wide web, Berners-Lee has long been a vocal critic of the direction it’s taken – with digital giants monopolising power and data, undermining the potentials of openness and connectivity the web provides. In his statement on Inrupt, he says: “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.”
Now seeking to create the change he wants to see, Berners-Lee has taken a sabbatical from MIT, and reduced day-to-day involvement with the World Wide Web Consortium, to focus on Inrupt and Solid. “With the right values and a foundational corporate infrastructure, we will build beneficial systems that work for everyone” he says.
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