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Can the original founder of the World Wide Web restore control to the hands of its users?

28 June 2019
A person using a credit card on their laptop | Can the original founder of the World Wide Web restore control to the hands of its users? | Neon

The original idea of the World Wide Web, as envisaged by Tim Berners-Lee, was an open architecture of information sources linked together by references and used for storing and sharing information easily. But somewhere along the way, this ideology got lost.

As the number of people ‘going online’ grew, businesses saw the potential to create commercial entities for their own means. And a central tenet to their monetisation schemes has been data. The collection, storage and activation of this data for marketing purposes has created wealth and opportunity for a large number of people, but at what cost?

The World Wide Web we experience now is a far cry from the one Berners-Lee originally designed. It’s now a world dominated by a small number of technology companies hoovering up data on its user’s interactions and harvesting it for commercial gain.

So now he is back to try and put things right…

Berners-Lee, along with a number of other boffins have decided a new version of the World Wide Web is required. This new iteration is one where the user is in control of their data and they can grant and revoke access to it at their own discretion. Where content and data is decoupled and in order to co-exist both parties have to accept and grant permission.

Solid is a project which “aims to radically change the way Web applications work today, resulting in true data ownership as well as improved privacy.” And at a time when data privacy has been making headlines for the past 2 years, it could be easy to see how they may succeed.

If they can truly provide the facility for users to own and control their own data, whilst granting trusted third parties access only when it’s relevant to them, the results will revolutionise how we envisage the Internet.

Imagine being able to grant insurance companies access to your details, only during the month you are considering your options before closing it off for another year.

Likewise any other utilities and service providers. No more mistimed or annoying emails. No more ‘targeted’ advertising when you are not considering their product or service. Messages and content would only be received when they were going to be useful to you.

Equally, imagine being able to know and have control over the data web applications have on you. No walled gardens. No paying the price for access by giving up all rights to control of your data. Just a fair and open system where the user controls what they share.

Sound good? Well if Berners-Lee has his way this could be the future. And you probably wouldn’t back against him.

What do you think? Hop on over to Twitter and let us know!

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