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Paul Merrell

Exclusive: Tim Berners-Lee tells us his radical new plan to upend the - 1 views

  • “The intent is world domination,” Berners-Lee says with a wry smile. The British-born scientist is known for his dry sense of humor. But in this case, he is not joking.This week, Berners-Lee will launch Inrupt, a startup that he has been building, in stealth mode, for the past nine months. Backed by Glasswing Ventures, its mission is to turbocharge a broader movement afoot, among developers around the world, to decentralize the web and take back power from the forces that have profited from centralizing it. In other words, it’s game on for Facebook, Google, Amazon. For years now, Berners-Lee and other internet activists have been dreaming of a digital utopia where individuals control their own data and the internet remains free and open. But for Berners-Lee, the time for dreaming is over.
  • In a post published this weekend, Berners-Lee explains that he is taking a sabbatical from MIT to work full time on Inrupt. 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.
  • f 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. And like with Netscape, Berners-Lee hopes Inrupt will be just the first of many companies to emerge from Solid.
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  • On his screen, there is a simple-looking web page with tabs across the top: Tim’s to-do list, his calendar, chats, address book. He built this app–one of the first on Solid–for his personal use. It is simple, spare. In fact, it’s so plain that, at first glance, it’s hard to see its significance. But to Berners-Lee, this is where the revolution begins. The app, using Solid’s decentralized technology, 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 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.
  • For example, one idea Berners-Lee is currently working on is a way to create a decentralized version of Alexa, Amazon’s increasingly ubiquitous digital assistant. He calls it Charlie. Unlike with Alexa, on Charlie people would own all their data. That means they could trust Charlie with, for example, health records, children’s school events, or financial records. That is the kind of machine Berners-Lee hopes will spring up all over Solid to flip the power dynamics of the web from corporation to individuals.
  • Berners-Lee believes Solid will resonate with the global community of developers, hackers, and internet activists who bristle over corporate and government control of the web. “Developers have always had a certain amount of revolutionary spirit,” he observes. Circumventing government spies or corporate overlords may be the initial lure of Solid, but the bigger draw will be something even more appealing to hackers: freedom. In the centralized web, data is kept in silos–controlled by the companies that build them, like Facebook and Google. In the decentralized web, there are no silos.Starting this week, developers around the world will be able to start building their own decentralized apps with tools through the Inrupt site. Berners-Lee will spend this fall crisscrossing the globe, giving tutorials and presentations to developers about Solid and Inrupt.
  • When asked about this, Berners-Lee says flatly: “We are not talking to Facebook and Google about whether or not to introduce a complete change where all their business models are completely upended overnight. We are not asking their permission.”Game on.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

How Big Is Your Target? - Freedom Penguin - 0 views

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    "April 20, 2016 Jacob Roecker 0 Comment Opinion In his 2014 TED presentation Cory Doctorow compares an open system of development to the scientific method and credits the methods for bringing mankind out of the dark ages. Tim Berners-Lee has a very credible claim to patent the technology that runs the internet, but instead has championed for its open development. This open development has launched us forward into a brave new world. Nearly one third of all internet traffic rides on just one openly developed project. "
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    "April 20, 2016 Jacob Roecker 0 Comment Opinion In his 2014 TED presentation Cory Doctorow compares an open system of development to the scientific method and credits the methods for bringing mankind out of the dark ages. Tim Berners-Lee has a very credible claim to patent the technology that runs the internet, but instead has championed for its open development. This open development has launched us forward into a brave new world. Nearly one third of all internet traffic rides on just one openly developed project. "
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

The original proposal of the WWW, HTMLized - 1 views

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    [... The problems of information loss may be particularly acute at CERN, but in this case (as in certain others), CERN is a model in miniature of the rest of world in a few years time. CERN meets now some problems which the rest of the world will have to face soon. In 10 years, there may be many commercial solutions to the problems above, while today we need something to allow us to continue. ...]
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Tim Berners-Lee: internet freedom must be safeguarded | Technology | guardian.co.uk - 3 views

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    "Berners-Lee developed the web to meet the demand for information-sharing between physicists in universities and institutes around the world."
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    [... #Berners-Lee #developed the #web to #meet the #demand for # information - #sharing between physicists in universities and institutes around the world. ...]
Paul Merrell

Sir Tim Berners-Lee on 'Reinventing HTML' - 0 views

    • Paul Merrell
       
      Berners-Lee gives the obligaotry lip service to participation of "other stakeholders" but the stark reality is that W3C is the captive of the major browser developers. One may still credit W3C staff and Berners-Lee for what they have accomplished despite that reality, but in an organization that sells votes the needs of "other stakeholders" will always be neglected.
  • Some things are clearer with hindsight of several years. It is necessary to evolve HTML incrementally. The attempt to get the world to switch to XML, including quotes around attribute values and slashes in empty tags and namespaces all at once didn't work. The large HTML-generating public did not move, largely because the browsers didn't complain. Some large communities did shift and are enjoying the fruits of well-formed systems, but not all. It is important to maintain HTML incrementally, as well as continuing a transition to well-formed world, and developing more power in that world.
  • The plan is, informed by Webforms, to extend HTML forms. At the same time, there is a work item to look at how HTML forms (existing and extended) can be thought of as XForm equivalents, to allow an easy escalation path. A goal would be to have an HTML forms language which is a superset of the existing HTML language, and a subset of a XForms language wit added HTML compatibility.
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  • There will be no dependency of HTML work on the XHTML2 work.
    • Paul Merrell
       
      He just confirms that that incremental migration from HTML forms to XForms is entirely a pie-in-the-sky aspiration, not a plan.
  • This is going to be a very major collaboration on a very important spec, one of the crown jewels of web technology. Even though hundreds of people will be involved, we are evolving the technology which millions going on billions will use in the future. There won't seem like enough thankyous to go around some days.
    • Paul Merrell
       
      Perhaps a political reality. But I am 62 years old, have had three major heart attacks, and am still smoking cigarettes. I would like to experience interoperable web apps before I die. What does the incremental strategy do for me? I would much prefer to see Berners-Lee raising his considerable voice and stature against the dominance of the browser developers at W3C.
    • Paul Merrell
       
      Bye-bye XForms.
    • Paul Merrell
       
      This is the precise reason the major browser developers must be brought to heel rather than being catered to with a standard that serves only the needs of the browser developers and not the need of users for interoperable web applications. CSS is in the web app page templates, not in the markup that can be exchanged by web apps. Why can't MediaWiki exchange page content with Drupal? It's because HTML really sucks biig time as a data exchange format. All the power is in the CSS site templates, not in what users can stick in HTML forms.
  • The perceived accountability of the HTML group has been an issue. Sometimes this was a departure from the W3C process, sometimes a sticking to it in principle, but not actually providing assurances to commenters. An issue was the formation of the breakaway WHAT WG, which attracted reviewers though it did not have a process or specific accountability measures itself.
  • Some things are very clear. It is really important to have real developers on the ground involved with the development of HTML. It is also really important to have browser makers intimately involved and committed. And also all the other stakeholders, including users and user companies and makers of related products.
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