Solid and exclusion

The DEIT is unclear to me because I’m not sure if the emphasis is on

  • including diverse developers and specifiers
  • including diverse users
  • not excluding particular groups of developers/specifiers/users
  • not excluding individual developers/specifiers/users

This is complicated because Solid is all about exclusion.

To me what matters is that the Solid spec and its implementations, to the extent possible, abide by legally accepted and just standards when excluding individual users or groups of users. If that is done, I believe the other goals will follow as a consequence.

Sometimes exclusion is legal, and sometimes its not. Laws vary around the world. Sometimes the laws are not just.

The danger as I see it is that technology like this can almost completely remove the social friction from many interactions that will in the future be moved online. It can speed up the future before we are ready for the future.

A private or public group that is central to the economy or culture could use an ACL/ACP file that is widely inherited or copied, and that file could have an exclusion or inclusion for a group or even an individual, and that exclusion or inclusion could easily constitute a miscarriage of justice and/or democracy.

I don’t know what the solution is, just asking the question.

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Speaking only for myself, I see the goal of the DEI Team as the same as Solid - building a web that serves people’s real needs. The word “people” encompasses many diverse communities with different needs. The best way to ensure that the needs of those different communities are met is by including them in the process of designing and building Solid. So outreaching to diverse communities is one function. But outreach is not sufficient - we must also strive to make our community (and that includes developers, specifiers, forum users, etc.) as welcoming as possible to people from as many diverse backgrounds as we can.

@tag42git, you wrote : “Solid is all about exclusion.” If you are talking solely about the technical process of access control to documents, that’s perhaps one way to look at it. Another would be to say that Solid is all about access. We call them access control mechanisms, after all. But Solid is more than an access control mechanism, it is a system for sharing information and interoperating between structures - in other words including things.

Solid is also a community. And that is the part of Solid that DEI is about. Helping to make our community diverse, equitable, and inclusive of the needs of users by ensuring that our participants are diverse and our procedures equitable, and our behavior inclusive.


@tag42git - another response to your “Solid is all about exclusion.” – I see Solid as consent-based-computing. In a society in which my body is my own, I do not need to “exclude” anyone from it - they need to get my consent. Same with Solid in a solidverse - my data is my own and I do not need to exclude anyone from it, if they want it they can ask my consent.


I agree that welcoming and reaching out to diverse groups of developers/testers/documenters/specifiers/users is a good thing, don’t get me wrong.

Legally you can exclude anybody from anything you don’t have a legal obligation to give them, which is pretty much everything. That is as it should be, and a private individual not engaged in some kind of regulated activity doesn’t have to justify that. Calling what you do give them consent-based amounts to the same thing.

The difference is bigger with pods of organizations. The consent of an organization can’t always be so arbitrary. There are all kinds of public and private organizations subject to all kinds of laws.

Automating things to the extent Solid makes possible will remove so much friction that it will surface a lot of ethical issues with ACLs/ACPs I think.