The biggest challenges for Solid are not technical in nature


#1

I posted some newbie perception on Solid on this forum before, here, here and here, but wanted to bring up some furhter point after reading @RubenVerborgh’s latest and good article:

And especially the Hacker News discussion that was triggered by the article.

Reading some of the comments in that thread and in previous HN threads about Solid shows to me clearly where the biggest challenges of Solid for the future are: Changing perceptions of the technology and gaining adoption!

People do not understand where Solid fits in. They have perceptions that @timbl is trying to revive trodden paths of Semantic Web, which didn’t pick up after the great popularity (and hype) they had several years ago.

IMHO there is too much technical focus in this community and in general. While that is okay, and actual implementations becoming available are also very important to gain adoption, I feel this narrow approach is a very long road to success with high risk of failure. Writers, bloggers, evangelists, marketeers, promoters, organizers, community leaders, press… much more of these are needed.

I am not in the loop of the strategies behind the Solid project, and I may see this all wrong. After all I am just telling you about my early perceptions :slight_smile:

But I have great interest for The Decentralized Web, its grand vision, and for privacy-first technologies. And when studying what is out there in the fields of Decentralisation I see a hugely fragmented ecosystem, a proliferation of (de-facto) standards, no clear oversight to be had anywhere, and a landscape littered with the tombstones of dead projects. The crazy blockchain hype didn’t help as well.

As community facilitator for the Humane Tech Community (with a scope and audience which may currently be too broad) I know how hard it is to get these tedious non-technical, organizational aspects sorted out. People want to contribute to concrete things, and technical people want to work on technical things.

I’d advice Solid community dearly to give proper attention to all of this, now that momentum is still building.

Hoping I’m not perceived as ranting,

Warm regards,
Arnold.


Tangentially, some other technologies where the same issue is at play:

I love ActivityPub which is quite successful if you look in the right places. But it also suffers fragmentation - dogfooding the Fediverse for their development. It needs focal points from where to get informed and drilldown into its body of work. Not saying activitypub.rocks should be such place, I nonetheless created a Github issue with that plea.

Another initiative with some very cool peer-to-peer decentralization concept is datproject.org and in the past I gave extensive feedback to the core team, among others about their own technical focus (being NodeJS developers focused on cranking out NPM modules). They are still vey much under the radar now, slow going, and were it not for the active Beaker browser project, they might have been dead by now.


#2

A big challenge for tech companies is hiding the tech bother from the public user yet still leveraging it

The other challenge in this case is providing the physical storage for free


#3

Thanks, and good observations!

Fully agree, but see the very explicit call by @timbl, which is quoted in my article:

[Let’s] assemble the brightest minds from business, technology, government, civil society, the arts, and academia to tackle the threats to the Web’s future.

My personal opinion is that technology is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition. So we as technologists have the burden of proof to make it work technologically, and we need to bring it to the people who can take it from there, and incorporate their feedback. And they are being listened to, definitely. Any suggestions to get more of this feedback are definitely welcome.


#4

“The crazy blockchain hype didn’t help as well” Amen to that.