What Pods are good for

So i just finished reading Let’s talk about pods by Ruben Verborgh and I feel he is probably right that the “document” as the atom of the Pod data is doomed to not scale well and not promote data reuse between client apps, and that the only fix is for Pods to provide a triplet query interface over all data.

Traditionally this has been backed by a database in the centralised app approach. Maintaining a database centrally seem easier than distributing this job to every user and really raises the bar technically. Perhaps this is why Ruben’s vision will never take off as file storage is much, much easier to setup than a database… unless a performant DB interface can run on files like Athena (AWS) or BigQuery (GCP)? Files are also easier for the average joe to understand.

What Ruben doesn’t mention in the article is data persistence. Self hosted data is fine when that data doesn’t interact with other individual self hosted data apps. So when it inevitably goes down, is removed or moves etc (try finding self hosted blog posts from 10-20 years ago, archive.org is usually your one and only hope). The great thing about something like Reddit is that I can look at the very first post from 18 years ago and see all the comments. If this were all Pod hosted its highly likely that most if any of the Pods would still be operating and/or in the same place. This would be a very poor user experience not to mention terrible for posterity. So this leads me to believe that Pods are not good for everything and centralised apps, particularly where multiple Pod data is interacting, are still going to be useful.

Not to mention how do you make a distributed data app like a forum performant? It will be only as good as the slowest Pod i imagine. You could cache the data but then isn’t that’s just another way of centralising and how does ownership work in that instance?

I think the future is probably a high bread version of traditional centralised data and personal Pods. Perhaps if Solid takes off all of these problems will find solutions. This is just me thinking aloud reflecting on a great article.

1 Like

I think the whole idea is that Solid can comply with “the right to be forgotten”.

If you want to save your data in a durable way, you probably do need to make back-ups or move some data (you still want to keep but no longer wish to share) to another place.

Eventually, you’ll need to pay the price to fight entropy if you want persistence though.

Sure, I’m just concerned that that price is centralised corporate ownership.

I like Reddit. particularly one of it’s founders, Aaron Swartz, who is a hero of mine, who’s ideas and struggles were all about freedom of information. The fact that you can go back 18 years on reddit is a testament to infrastructure, design and that it was a great idea. Everyone is anonymous on Reddit yet it’s all about community.

Perhaps ownership, the inward focus on the self, is antithetical to the idea of community, which cannot exist without people giving to the collective good?