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Perhaps, the most important news this decade

Tim Berners-Lee has been thinking. And from a man who conceived the world-wide-web that has changed every corner of the planet, when Tim is thinking, everyone needs to pay attention. What he wants to do (and trust me, some of this is so esoteric, it is beyond most of our understanding) is take back the Web.

Yes, take it back. He’s started a new entity (not a company for profit, but set up as a business) called Inrupt. Where is this entity? On a battered laptop, in his “office” above a gym in Boston. But remember, this is Tim Berners-Lee ... he’s everywhere. What is this entity Inrupt? It’s a working methodology, computer coding programming, to interrupt the big players on the Internet (Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc.) by decentralizing the Web, where users control their own data and the Internet remains free, open, and controllable by the individual.

“We have to do this now,” he says and he’s clearly in a hurry. Taking a break from MIT, he’s been working full time on Inrupt. It’s built to work on and promote developers to use Solid, a decentralized web platform he and MIT have worked on for years. 

The goal is to let you, the user, switch from using Outlook, Facebook, Spotify, Microsoft (!), WhatsApp and all the rest, to Solid where you control, you keep all your own data under your control, every photo, song, memo, email, shopping searches, everything. No one else gets to see or use your data. Bye bye Facebook and Google.

And he’s even building a version of Alexa that will have the same function except that anything you ask for is your data, private, unusable by the retailers and data miners.

So, how far advanced is Solid and Inrupt? Solid is MIT based and ready to roll providing Inrupt gives developers the keys they need to write the apps Solid needs to mimic the lifestyles we all enjoy and that business needs to work efficiently. And is Inrupt ready? It is.

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Speaking about Inrupt, “What’s great about having a startup versus a research group is things get done,” Berners-Lee says. For now, the Inrupt team consists of Berners-Lee; his partner John Bruce, who built Resilient, a security platform bought by IBM and a handful of on-staff developers. Oh, and let’s not forget that Berners-Lee has his devoted, passionate, followers: a community of talented volunteer coders around the world.

Inrupt could impact trillion-dollar business models that profit off of a firm control over your personal data. The big powers of the web will not want to give up that control without a fight. 

When asked about this by Fast Company newsletter, Berners-Lee said flatly: “We are not talking to Facebook and Google about whether or not to introduce a complete change where all their business models are completely upended overnight. We are not asking their permission.”

The revolution has begun, lead by one of the greatest brains on the planet.

 

Peter Riva, a former resident of Amenia Union, now lives in New Mexico.