Don’t look now but the centralized Internet may be going the way of dinosaurs

by WorldTribune Staff, October 1, 2018

The inventor of the World Wide Web has launched a startup which aims “to decentralize the web and take back power from the forces that have profited from centralizing it,” a report said.

For Tim Berners-Lee, “it’s game on for Facebook, Google, Amazon,” Katrina Booker wrote for FastCompany.

Tim Berners-Lee

Along with other Internet activists, Berners-Lee has “been dreaming of a digital utopia where individuals control their own data and the Internet remains free and open.”

Last week, Berners-Lee launched Inrupt, a startup that is backed by Glasswing Ventures. The company “will be the first major commercial venture built off of Solid, a decentralized web platform he and others at MIT have spent years building,” the report said.

There appears to be parallels with the block-chain technology behind crypto currency seen by many to be revolutionizing financial trading.

“Decentralizing file storage on the internet brings clear benefits,” according to a explainer, “What is Blockchain Technology?”

Distributing data throughout the network protects files from getting hacked or lost.

Inter Planetary File System (IPFS) makes it easy to conceptualize how a distributed web might operate. Similar to the way a bittorrent moves data around the internet, IPFS gets rid of the need for centralized client-server relationships (i.e., the current web).

An internet made up of completely decentralized websites has the potential to speed up file transfer and streaming times. Such an improvement is not only convenient. It’s a necessary upgrade to the web’s currently overloaded content-delivery systems.

In an interview with Booker, Berners-Lee said: “We have to do it now. It’s a historical moment.”

Berners-Lee said he envisioned the new venture after revelations emerged that Facebook had allowed people’s data to be misused by political operatives.

“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,” Booker’s report said. “And like with Netscape, Berners-Lee hopes Inrupt will be just the first of many companies to emerge from Solid.”

The report noted that, using Solid’s decentralized technology, an app allows Berners-Lee “to access all of his data seamlessly – his calendar, his music library, videos, chat, research. It’s like a mashup of Google Drive, Microsoft Outlook, Slack, Spotify, and WhatsApp.”

The report continues: “The difference here is that, on Solid, all the information is under his control. Every bit of data he 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.”

Developers around the world are now able to start building their own decentralized apps with tools through the Inrupt site.

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