Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee wants to save his creation from centralization. But does he join Web3’s promise of salvation?
At the TNW conference, the computer scientist gave a clear answer:
That snub appears to clash with recent actions by Berners-Lee. The 67-year-old is now committed to rescuing his “dysfunctional” idea from the clutches of Big Tech.
He also made a cool $5.4 million by selling an NFT – one of Web3’s alleged pillars.
But the Brit has his own vision for the successor to the web: a decentralized architecture that puts users in control of their data.
Berners-Lee wants to build it on a platform he calls Solid – but you can call it Web 3.0.
“We once called it Web 3.0 because Web 2.0 was a term used for the dysfunction of what’s happening with user-generated content on the major platforms,” he said.
“People have called it Web 2.0, so if you want to call it Web 3.0, then okay.”
It just doesn’t work on the blockchain.
Berners-Lee shares Web3’s alleged mission to move data from Big Tech to the people. But he takes a different route to the goal.
While Web3 is blockchain based, Solid is built using standard web tools and open specifications.
Private information is stored in decentralized data stores called “pods” that can be hosted wherever the user chooses. You can then choose which apps can access their data.
This approach aims to provide interoperability, speed, scalability, and privacy.
“If you try to build this stuff on top of the blockchain, it just doesn’t work,” Berners-Lee said.
According to Berners-Lee, Solid serves two different purposes. One prevents companies from misusing our data for unsolicited purposes, manipulating voters or generating clickbait.
The other offers opportunities to benefit from our information.
For example, health data could be shared through trusted services to improve our treatment and support medical research.
Our photos, meanwhile, could be made available to Facebook friends, LinkedIn colleagues and Flickr followers without having to upload the images to each platform.
This is reminiscent of Berners-Lee’s original goal of making the web a collaborative tool.
“I wanted to be able to solve problems when part of the solution is in my head and part of the solution is in your head and you’re on the other side of the planet — connected by the internet,” he said.
“That was exactly what I wanted the web for. It’s gaining traction as a publishing medium — but all is not lost.”
Solid has yet to prove an effective cure, but the father of the web still believes his wayward child can get back on track.