Improving the Web for Everyone


American startup based in Boston


CEO John Bruce


CTO Tim Berners-Lee


Kjetil Kjernsmo


Ruben Verborgh

Business models that focus on data harvesting and persuation architectures causes

  • stagnating innovation
  • alienation amongst citizens
  • a few winners takes all
  • general exploitative environment

We need a new social contract

The Solid ecosystem
brings back choice
by decoupling data and applications
enables personal data control.

People choose where they store every single piece of data they produce.

They can grant applications and people access to very specific parts of their data.

Separating app and storage competition drives permissionless innovation.

When Terje Was Young

  • Terminals where getting smarter,
  • but there were many different,
  • and they were connected to a larger system.
  • Some standardisation started to happen.

My office

My workplace

My rack

My computers

Before the Web,
the world was highly heterogeneous.

  • Exchanging and connecting information was hard.
    • different hardware
    • different software
  • Innovation was hard.
    • For which target machines should platforms be built?
    • Developers depended on software and hardware vendors.

The Web strives to be universal, and thereby enables permissionless innovation.

  • Anyone can use the Web, regardless of
    • hardware

      desktop phone tablet watch

    • software

      operating system browser app

  • You don’t depend on these to innovate.
    • Build for the Web!
    • Standards provide interoperability.

The Web is Normative Software and de facto Standards

The whole normative landscape

the normative landscape


Technocratic Elitism!

What is a right worth?

What is the right to data portability worth if you have nowhere to put and use your data?

scene from Life of Brian

Consent in a Persuation Architecture

Facebook face recognition

It's an Arms Race

If you spend more resources than your opponent, you loose

Do people really care?

  • 91% say that they have lost control.
  • People are not giving up data as a tradeoff, but because they have no actual choice.

Choice is essential

But there is no choice unless technology enables people to do what they need to do

Permissionless innovation

  • Enables people to experiment with solution to their problems.
  • Counteracts technological elitsm.
  • Has historically brought unprecedented creativity to the world.
  • But isn't the whole solution

How about me?


Linked Data


  • It is an address to something
  • You get a document back if you go there
  • It is also an identifier for that document


  • Generalized to identify something physical
  • You will get a description about me if you go there.
  • Can identify anything, including abstract things, like the type of weather.


<> <> "Kjetil Kjernsmo"@no .


@prefix foaf: <> .
@prefix dc:   <> .
@prefix xsd:  <> .
@base         <> .

<profile/card#me> a foaf:Person ;
                  foaf:name "Kjetil Kjernsmo"@no ;
	          foaf:publications <>, 

<> dc:title "SPARQL on the Open, Decentralised Web"@en;
                                    dc:date  "2016-11-22"^^xsd:date .


Solid gives

  • Everyone a Pod, where you can store and manage your data
  • Everyone an identity, a WebID
  • An authorization system with fine grained control
  • Takes advantage of various security mechanisms

Personal Data Control

When people control their own data, they are

  • more resistant to persuation architectures
  • less dependent on data harvesting business models
  • more resistant to forms of exploitation
  • they are free to choose applications that suit them
    • use applications that matches their values
    • enables competition based on value added
    • since people are not locked in, anyone can enter with their innovations

Personal Data Control unlocks Permissionless Innovation

Access Control Lists

@prefix acl: <>.
@prefix foaf: <>.
@base <>

    a acl:Authorization;
    acl:agent <card#me>;
    acl:accessTo <card>;
        acl:Read, acl:Write, acl:Control.

    a acl:Authorization;
    acl:agentClass foaf:Agent;
    acl:accessTo <card>;
    acl:mode acl:Read.

Verifiable Presentation

Standardization underway to enable data to be verified by a third party.


  • WebID for everyone using ID-Porten is trivial
  • Linked Data has some adoption in the Public Sector
  • Several ways to set up Pods with official records of personal data, whether is based on hjemmel or consent.
  • But also some limitations we need to work on


With Solid, the user could gather data from all their banks, and the approval algorithm from the loan-giver, and compute a a yes/no answer that could be verified


Services to the population over their data


People aren't on Altinn

People are on Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok

Public services should be on the same platfor that people normally use

Give everyone Solid


  • It enhances the public's security
  • Allows people to truly excercise their rights
  • Helps free them from exploitative technology companies.
  • Enhances innovation
  • Improves their ability to participate in technological development
  • Public services can avoid centralized architectures
  • Public services can be where the user is