Where the Web things are

Ruben Verborgh, Ghent Universityimec

Talk in the Library Lunch Series of the UGent Faculty of Arts, 31 March 2020

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Where the Web things are

Ruben Verborgh

Ghent University – imec

©1963 Maurice Sendak
© Tim McDonagh

The world before the Web
was highly heterogeneous.

©2017 Michael Fraley

The Web strives to be universal
through independence of many factors.

©2008 Lucélia Ribeiro

CERN decided to make the Web
available royalty-free in 1993.

This is for everyone #london2012 #oneweb #openingceremony @webfoundation @w3c

Tim Berners-Lee July 27, 2012

The Web brings freedom of expression
to everyone across the world.

©2012 Luke McKernan

The Web brings permissionless innovation
at a global scale.

©2012 SparkFun Electronics

The first threat to universality
were the browser wars.

[Internet Explorer logo]

This battle was replaced by another:
the search engine wars.

[Google logo]

This battle was also replaced by another:
the platform wars.

[Facebook logo]

Our data has become centralized
in a handful of Web platforms.

Within the walled gardens of social media,
you have to move either data or people.

© David Simonds

Ironically, permissionless innovation
even allows platforms that prevent it.

The Facebook founder has no intention of
allowing anyone to build anything on his platform
that does not have his express approval.

Having profited mightily from the Web’s openness,
he has kicked away the ladder that elevated him
to his current eminence.

John Naughton, The Guardian
[photo of a ladder]
© Vinayak Shankar Rao

Solid is about choice.

The Solid ecosystem enables people to pick the apps they need, while
storing their data wherever they want.

People control their data, and share it
with the apps and people they choose.

©2007 plien

People choose where they store
every single piece of data they produce.

They can grant apps and people access
to very specific parts of their data.

Separating app and storage competition
drives permissionless innovation.

Solid is not a company or organisation.
Solid is not (just) software.

[the Solid logo]

A data pod can contain
any data you create or need online.

Any app you can envision,
you can build with Solid.

The case of a small metadata producer:
my scholarly publications.

I have been publishing my own metadata
since before most of these existed.

The project Scholarly Communications Using The Decentralized Web recently started.

Without central actors, how to fulfill the 4 functions of scholarly communication?

Prove precedence for a claim.
Establish validity of a claim.
Inform other actors about a claim.
Preserve the scholarly record over time.

Current actors combine multiple functions
but decentralization removes that need.

Researchers get their own researcher pod
in which they store all scholarly artifacts.

The resulting research network connects
researchers, artifacts, scholarly actors.

Herbert Van de Sompel

The best way to predict
the future is to invent it.

Alan Kay
[photo of Alan Kay]
©2008 jeanbaptisteparis

The best way to invent
the future is to predict it.

John Perry Barlow
[photo of John Perry Barlow]
©2007 Joi Ito

Where the Web things are