Tim Berners-Lee is the father of the Internet. He now wants to decentralize the web with his new project

The creator of the World Wide Web wants to revolutionize the Internet again. Tim Berners-Lee think that technological platforms are “controlling the world and manipulating people by providing information.” If in 1989 CERN changed the history of the digital world forever, now she wants to save him (one more time).

The dream of a different and free web. The idea leads haunting the mind of the British scientist since some years. A decentralized web where the information is open and is not in the hands of a few.

Under this description, many of us might think that Tim Berners-Lee is a strong defender of Web3, but nothing could be further from the truth. “We must understand what these terms that we are discussing really mean, beyond the buzzwords,” responds when asked about Web3.

The blockchain is not the solution for decentralization. “It’s a real shame that the Ethereum people have taken the name Web3 for the things they’re doing with blockchain. In fact, Web3 is not the web at all,” says Berners-Lee, a critic of blockchain’s use for the decentralized web, despite the fact that in the past it had considered that it could be interesting.

“Blockchain projects are too slow, too expensive, and too public. Personal data storage has to be fast, cheap, and private,” he says. “Blockchain may be good for some projects, but not for Solid.”

Solid, this is Tim Berners-Lee’s new project. Solid started as a MIT research project but it has led to Inrupt, a startup that Berners-Lee himself founded together with John Bruce. During the last Web Summit, Berners-Lee, who is the CTO of the company, shared some details of his project.

Solid is an open source project to try to decentralize the web. What does it consist of? At the moment in three tools: a single universal registry that works everywhere, an ID for each user where data can be shared and a universal API that allows access to that data from other applications.

What are the ‘Pods’. The main concept is Pods, an acronym for ‘Personal Online Data Store’. When an application or company wants to access your data, they must request access to your personal Pod. But that data is with you, not stored by third parties. As our digital life increases, Pods contain more information. The fundamental difference with respect to Web3 is that this information is not publicly registered in a chain of blocks, but is kept privately.

as described VentureBeatBerners-Lee uses Solid to store his data, from bank accounts to documents, music, photos… a series of data that instead of being in the cloud is in a Pod, which he accesses from his Mac Mini.

Cooking over low heat. In response to Fast Company, Berners Lee recalls that the growth of the web was not sudden. During the 90s there was a stage of experimentation, although later it did grow exponentially. Solid is an excellent idea, and it has someone as big a reputation behind it as Berners-Lee. However, that does not mean that his startup is guaranteed success.

At the moment Inrupt is in negotiations with different European governments, although Berners-Lee does not confirm which ones. Also have collaborated with various NGOs refugees, where they have worked on projects to share medical data from their Pods.

Only time will tell if this Berners-Lee idea succeeds. It is difficult for a historical success like the creation of the WWW to be repeated, but his new proposal is well worth listening to.

Image | Sam Barnes/Web Summit

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