Why solid? are there simpler alternatives


@tjhorton Solid uses ontologies which could potentially describe anything! including pod provider helper services which could help apps add those nice extra features that might say - help it to scale better if required.


Coop is a great idea! but I personally still prefer Solid


SAFE is based upon a business model in which most of the people pushing it seem to be concerned about the money they will make from early adoption.

Coop is based upon a business model in which people pushing it seem to want to control the selling of membership.

Solid needs no such business model. Solid (like TBL’s WWW itself) is based upon a platform which is being pushed by people who are freely designing it and making the whole platform freely available to all.

Me? I’d rather go down the Solid route.

True, there is money to be made from hosting Solid Pod’s or from selling premium Solid apps, just as there is money to be made from using the WWW, but the underlying platforms themselves, both WWW and Solid, do not need a ‘business’ model.

Tim Berners-Lee OM KBE FRS FREng FRSA FBCS, could have made a bundle first time around, but didn’t ‘monetize’ the WWW. I wish him well this time and hope he does make a bundle for himself. I for one cannot thank him enough for his past unselfish efforts leading to the creation and free availability of the WWW, nor for his (and his team’s) unselfish efforts that are leading to the creation and free availability of Solid.


Part of the model is to reward adoption - that’s a positive if you want something to grow and be used, and available to as many as possible. It is also crucial in order to provide a sustainable basis for the infrastructure, but SAFE certainly isn’t just about or even mainly about early adoption. I’m not sure who you have seen ‘pushing’ it on this basis, but I’ve participated in the community daily since 2014 and the business models are sometimes discussed but not in the way you suggest. The majority of the discussion is about the capabilities, how it works, what might need changing or ways to improve it, in order to achieve the aims: privacy, security and freedom for everyone.

SAFE has a means to reward those who provide resources, but it is a competitive market: the network automatically increases rewards if resources are too low, and reduces them when resources are plentiful. This means that the network costs are optimised downwards to pay the minimum necessary reward to ‘farmers’ for the resources they provide, and charge the minimum fees to users (to upload data). And all users are potential farmers, so for many users network services can be paid for with already sunk costs (existing outlay on bandwidth, hardware and power).

But the above is only one aspect of the business model. A second is that the network rewards other stakeholders. Those maintaining the core, those creating popular applications and, if plans for ‘Pay the Producer’ go ahead later, also to people creating and sharing popular content. The latter provides a trivial way for anyone to earn from their creativity using an alternative to selling advertising. Rewards for developers provide an alternative to monetising users through selling their data or attention (advertising). Another bonus for application developers and service providers is zero infrastructure costs, and global scale reach at no extra cost (no server infrastructure to pay for).

All these things are needed together if you want to change the way the Internet and ‘surveillance capitalism’ currently operates. If you can’t bring all participants together in a way that works for all stakeholders, you won’t have an alternative that will work.

There is more to the SAFE ‘business model’ than this, but I just want to correct the impression you gave about SAFE Network and the community around it. Most people are involved not just to make money - that’s a bonus for some - but because they believe in the goals of the project, which are aligned completely with the goals of Solid. The two communities are remarkably similar for this reason.

I also don’t think it is correct to say that Solid doesn’t need, or have a business model. Both SAFE and Solid are providing fully open source platforms that are open to all. Both need business models to fund the development and infrastructure, and developers building on these platforms need business models to fund the creation and maintainance of applications and services. Both projects have an awful lot in common in terms of goals and needs. The two also have significant differences in implementation. I think both have amazing and unique strengths. I’m confident that each is viable alone but believe that the best solution will be a combination of Solid on SAFE. So that’s my thing, not either - or, but best of both. :slight_smile:

Just to add, I second what you say about Tim’s gift to humanity. He’s an amazing innovator and generous human being. I’m priveleged to have met him and chatted about how we each got where we are. His achievements and personal character are very positive features of Solid for us both. If you look into the character and actions of David Irvine, founder of Maidsafe and SAFE Network you will find the same dedication and unselfish generosity. The parallels of these two projects and the people behind them are remarkable. I was amazed to find this twice, and that’s one reason I’m so keen to find ways to bring them together.


@happybeing pointed out that the optimum might be a mix of the two. IMHO it could be a coop or something like a coop for the core structured data, with layers of other data on top. He also points out that the real challenge may be making it commercially viable – somebody has to pay for the infrastructure to do big new things.


@richard, why do you think you’ll get very far without a viable business model? A business model just means that people get rewarded for what they contribute. Sure the code will be free, but people and disks and computers will be required to code and support operations, and the bigger Solid gets, the bigger the operation. Why won’t you get what you pay for? Imagine supporting a new facebook, will “free” possibly work?


And anyone working for your pod provider. The data is unencrypted. Even your profile document isn’t signed so unless you’re running your pod on that Raspberry Pi you don’t have nearly the control that you might think. You can’t prevent pod providers from colluding and re-aggregating the data unless you have legal restriction like GDPR.


The server is on my own computer, and yes, I do have to pay for my own computer and I do have to pay for my own electricity. That is exactly the point. Anyone can host their own SOLID Pod server, so there is no centralized business plan just an individual one of my own.

I can, of course, buy an app if I want to use it and reward those that want paying for their contribution, and I can pay a hosting company if I want to do that. But I can also use Solid with free apps and hosted on my own free server.

But I am running a Pod on my own Raspberry Pi, so I do have exactly the control I think I have.

As well as hosting my own Pod on my own Solid Pod Server I also have other Pods on other people’s servers over which I do not have as much control.

That is the whole point. I have a personal Pod I have control of (and where you have no access at all to my profile or anything else in my Pod) and I have two other Pods hosted elsewhere (where you can see everything I have made public to you). One for my friends, one for work, one for this forum.

That is exactly how it is meant to work if you check out the “How It Works” Inrupt page.

This Solid POD can be in your house or workplace, or with an online Solid POD provider of your choice


We shall have to differ. I think the chances of getting far with that, like a serious facebook competitor, seem awfully small. We’ll have to wait and see what comes out. Honestly, I don’t know what will work, if anything.


@mediaprophet offers this in the glitter chat room:


The point is, and what you are omitting, is that you are in control of your data only if you self host. If you host it somewhere else than your hosting provider has full access to your data. So all Facebook needs to do is offer a pod hosting service and you’re right back to where you started. “But I can move my pod so another provider!”, you say, but you can already download all your data from Facebook already. “But there will be many pod providers!”, you say, limiting how much can be aggregated, but they can still collude just as social media services are doing today.


There is of course no reason why Facebook can’t offer Pod hosting, but there would be a game-changing difference.

Currently, if you want to take part in social networking, you have little option other than to go with Facebook, accept their adverts, accept that they can sell all your information, and accept that a single hacker can access everything too. You have little option because everyone else that you may want to ‘socially network’ with is also on Facebook.

In the game changed future, most, if not all, the companies who are currently hosting websites will also be hosting Solid Pods. Facebook will simply be one of thousands, if not millions, of places you can host your Pod. It won’t matter where your Pod is because the end result will look the same wherever you host it. In practice, this means you can choose to host your Pod somewhere where they don’t bombard you with adverts, guarantee not to sell your information, have far better anti-hacking safeguards, encryption, etc.

The reason why Solid will be a game changer is that social networking will not need everyone to be on the same server, or hosted by the same company - It’s called decentralization and will turn the WWW upside down.

The ability to move, and the ability to be hosted on ANY server, commercial or otherwise, puts control in our hands, not in the hands of any single big business.