The World Wide Web “failed” humanity instead of serving it, its inventor says, but he has a plan to save it and restore it to its original intention.
“The Web [has] failed instead of served humanity, as it was supposed to have done, and failed in many places,” World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee told Vanity Fair.
“The spirit [of the World Wide Web] there was very decentralized. The individual was incredibly empowered. It was all based on there being no central authority that you had to go to to ask permission,” Berners-Lee said. “That feeling of individual control, that empowerment, is something we’ve lost.”
Amazon, Google, and Facebook have a near monopoly in their respective areas online, from the things users buy to how they find stuff on the Internet and how people spread it. The increasing centralization has “ended up producing—with no deliberate action of the people who designed the platform—a large-scale emergent phenomenon which is anti-human,” Berners-Lee said. (RELATED: REPORT: Google Lets App Developers Scan People’s Emails)
“For people who want to make sure the Web serves humanity, we have to concern ourselves with what people are building on top of it,” Berners-Lee said.
Berners-Lee is working with MIT to develop “Solid” — which aims to “radically change the way Web applications work today, resulting in true data ownership as well as improved privacy.”
Led by Berners-Lee, Solid is MIT’s program that aims to re-decentralize the Web. If Berners-Lee’s vision comes into fruition, Solid users, and thus Internet users in general, will be able to choose how their data gets used instead of giants like Facebook or Google using it however they want.
“Users should have the freedom to choose where their data resides and who is allowed to access it by decoupling content from the application itself,” the Solid website reads.
The World Wide Web was invented in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee as a way to navigate the Internet, which the U.S. invented in the 1960s. Berners-Lee never profited off it, thanks in part to his decision to give the technology away for free.
Just like Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, Solid, still in its infancy, is free and open to anyone who wants to use it.
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