An introduction to the Solid ecosystem

Ruben Verborgh, Ghent Universityimec

Lecture in the Linked Data Scholarship course at KU Leuven, 14 November 2019

An introduction to
the Solid ecosystem

Ruben Verborgh

Ghent University – imec

Solid aims to give people back
their choice on the Web.

We aim to redefine the relation
between people, data, and apps.

The Solid ecosystem enables you
to use the apps you need, while
storing your data wherever you want.

You control your data, and share it
with the apps and people you choose.

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

You freedom to use the Web shouldn’t be influenced by:

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

The Web brings permissionless innovation
at an unprecedented scale.

People started their own blogs and sites,
sharing things on their own terms.

© TestFunda

A generation of social platforms
helped people interact and share.

The Web has changed tremendously
in a short timespan.

© Tim McDonagh

Many social media platforms
reduce the Web to television.

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

Decentralization in Solid is not needing
centralized platforms to enjoy the Web.

Different platforms tackle decentralization
at very different scales.

You can choose where you store
every single piece of data you produce.

You can grant apps and people access
to very specific parts of your data.

Separating app and storage competition
drives permissionless innovation.

The traditional way of building apps
does not work well with decentralization.

Building apps over decentralized data
requires different app techniques.

Linked Data in the RDF model
solves crucial challenges for Solid.

Through URLs and RDF, every piece of data
can link to any other piece of data.

PREFIX as: <>
PREFIX xsd: <>
<#ruben-likes-lds2019> a as:Like;
  as:actor  <>;
  as:object <>;
  as:published "2019-11-14T08:00:00Z"^^xsd:dateTime.

Shapes (and hopefully soon semantics)
enable layered compatibility.

PREFIX as: <>
PREFIX xsd: <>
<#ruben-likes-lds2019> a as:Like;
  as:actor  <>;
  as:object <>;
  as:published "2019-11-14T08:00:00Z"^^xsd:dateTime.

Different source data can be concatenated
(but let’s track provenance).

PREFIX as: <>
PREFIX xsd: <>
<#ruben-likes-lds2019> a as:Like;
  as:actor  <>;
  as:object <>;
  as:published "2019-11-14T08:00:00Z"^^xsd:dateTime.
<#tom-likes-lds2019> a as:Like;
  as:actor  <>;
  as:object <>;
  as:published "2019-11-14T08:05:00Z"^^xsd:dateTime.

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

[the Solid logo]

Anyone can build or host
software for Solid.

The Solid server acts as a data pod
that stores and guards your data.

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

Solid clients are browser or native apps
that read from or write to your data pod.

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

The Solid server and several apps exist
and are usable for developers.

Solid is transitioning from research project
into an ecosystem backed by start-ups.

Solid lets you take control
over your personal data.

It breaks up silos on the Web
by linking to information
rather than harvesting it.

Your data, your apps, your choice.

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

Solid needs a diverse community
in order to succeed.

Let’s assemble the brightest minds
from business, technology, government,
civil society, the arts and academia
to tackle the threats to the Web’s future.

Tim Berners-Lee
©2011 Dave Pitt

An introduction to
the Solid ecosystem