When I first met with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, it was clear to me that his vision for the web was a world with huge potential for everyone. A connected world where individuals, groups and organizations can communicate, collaborate and create. Where a free market of fair return for value would stimulate innovation. Where businesses can thrive by delivering products and services that consumers actually want. Where anyone or any company with an idea and the energy to work hard can prosper.
Unfortunately, the state of the web as it’s evolved is very different. It’s become seriously restricting. The promise of the web as a place of innovation and value creation has become choked by forces that are limiting its potency. There’s generally no evil intent at work, they’re simply businesses and organizations doing what generates profit or serves political agendas.
The question is, what can be done?
For some time, Tim and a talented team from MIT have been working on Solid, the software that embodies his way of steering the web back to where it was originally intended. Solid is an open-source project, principally based on well-established standards, and orientated in such a way that data can be managed by the originator and shared appropriately.
For any individual, group or business, it makes for a web that’s truly empowering.
But Solid as an open-source project had been facing the normal challenges: vying for attention and lacking the necessary resources to realize its true potential. The solution was to establish a company that could bring resources, process and appropriate skills to make the promise of Solid a reality. There are plenty of examples of a commercial entity serving as the catalyst for an open-source project, to bolster the community with the energy and infrastructure of a commercial venture.
And so we started planning Inrupt - a company to do just that. Inrupt’s mission is to ensure that Solid becomes widely adopted by developers, businesses, and eventually … everyone; that it becomes part of the fabric of the web. Tim, as our CTO, has committed his time and talent to the company, and I am delighted to be its chief executive. We also have an exceptional investor as part of the team.
For some months, we’ve been working with talented thinkers and doers from around the globe, and distributing resources and workload appropriately. Everyone working on Inrupt and Solid is incredibly dedicated to shaping the future of the web. Thanks to Inrupt’s resources, the Solid open-source community is becoming robust, feature-rich and increasingly ready for wide-scale adoption.
What’s equally exciting is the reaction we’re getting from potential partners and businesses. There’s clearly a growing appetite for Solid; a recognition that Solid can free us from stifling data silos and create a blank slate for innovation. Anything we can imagine is made possible.
In the web as we envision it, there are opportunities for everyone. Entirely new businesses, ecosystems and opportunities will surely emerge and thrive. And we’ll need hosting companies, application providers, enterprise consultants, designers and developers. The list goes on. But the real opportunities are all the businesses yet to be invented.
There’s a long and exciting journey ahead of us all, into an unclear, but certain, future.