Definition Solid Web

Definition: Solid Web. Platform built upon the existing World Wide Web, to enable individuals who share Web content to keep full control of that content.

The Word Solid itself is short for SOcial LInked Data.

The easiest way of understanding the definition is to look at how the current World Wide Web works, and the change that the Solid Web is designed to achieve.

The World Wide Web is currently dominated by big businesses, the names of which will be known to you. They include businesses such as FaceBook, Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, etc. Between them, these businesses know almost all there is to know about you. Through combining the information on your phone, the information you search for on your browser, and the information you place on social media websites:

  • they know your date of birth,
  • where you live,
  • where you travel too, and when,
  • your phone number,
  • your email address,
  • what subjects you search for,
  • the content of your text messages,
  • what you like,
  • what you have bought or may buy,
  • how many partners you have had, and how long you have had them for,
  • how many children you have, their dates of birth and where and when they were born,
  • where you have been on holiday, and the dates you went, etc.

To these large businesses you could add thousands of smaller businesses and individuals who have created the apps you use on your phone or in your browser.   We usually have no idea who they are, but if we want to use their apps, we usually have to give them permission to view the content of our phones.

The dangers of the current system can be best illustrated by looking at a social network such as FaceBook.

Facebook Social Network
How Facebook shares the information we download onto it’s server.

When you view FaceBook  you are apparently connecting to your friends. You can view their content and they can view your content. You can send messages to them, click to show you ‘like’ their content, and you can share their content with others, or with the whole world.

You could be forgiven for believing that you are making direct contact with your friends, and that they are making direct contact with you. The reality is that you are never making direct contact with one another, you are only making contact with the Facebook server.  Everything you see whilst you are on FaceBook is held on the FaceBook server. The images, the messages, the memories, are all held on the Facebook server.

Facebook provide their server and software, and all the information you view on Facebook is held on those servers. They own those servers, and in most cases they own the content on those servers. At the very least, they own the information generated by their own software. They can, and do, give or sell that information to whoever they want. It becomes their information, not yours.  That’s how they make money, by selling your information.

The alternative is the Solid Web, which decentralizes the Web and gives YOU control of both your content and your information.  It allows you to reclaim the Web.

Definition: Solid Web. Platform built upon the existing World Wide Web, to enable individuals who share Web content to keep full control of that content.

solid social networking
How Solid shares the information information in our personal POD’s.

This illustrates a new sort of social networking, built upon the Solid Web platform. The view from the user’s point of view may be identical, but this time you are directly connected to your friends. You can still see their content (if they give you permission), and they can still see your content (if you give them permission). You can still send them messages (if they give you permission), and they can still send you messages (if you give them permission). The difference is that your information (your posts, messages, images, etc) are under your complete control.

Your information is not on a central server owned by a large company that has access to everything. Your information is held in a POD, an area that is just used by you. It is completely private to you, and only accessible to you, and to other individuals you know and allow access to. Similarly, your friends own their own POD. Their POD is only available to them, and to those individuals they allow access. The PODs themselves do not need to be on the same server. They can be held on any server. You can even have a server in your own home, on which to host your own POD.  You have full control over what is in your POD, and of who can access it.

Cosmetically, the new style social media may look the same.  You put a picture in your POD, to which one of your ‘friends’ adds a comment.  You reply to that comment and a ‘second friend’ than adds a different comment.  The picture, and all the comments, appear on your screen just as they would currently appear on Facebook, BUT your picture is always physically in your POD, your friend’s comment is always physically in their POD, and your second friend’s comment is always physically in your second friend’s POD.  The image, and every individual comment, is given its own URL which connects everything together.

It all looks the same as the old style social media, but behind the scenes there are significant differences.

Old style, in exchange for supplying the services on their server, FaceBook hold an almost unlimited amount of information about you.   They make money from by selling that information on, or by selling adverts to you.

New style, information from a thousand individuals is held on a thousand individual PODs, with those thousand individuals have total control over how much of their own information is shared with others.

The Solid Web takes your information away the large multinational companies that host it at the moment, and disperses that information to individual PODs over which you, the individual owner of that information, have complete control.

Definition: Solid Web.  As Solid is developed and used, the following  definition of Solid may have to be changed to reflect developments.  However, we do not expect that to happen, as everyone involved in developing the Solid Web has the above aim in mind.

Definition: Solid Web. Platform built upon the existing World Wide Web, to enable individuals who share Web content to keep full control of that content.