Re: Reviewing the Solid protocol

While slightly tangential to the tenor of the thread here, I would like to
contribute a perspective in the hope that it might be useful in some way.

I’m a techie first and foremost, but also a keen student of the social
sciences for a decade in the true spirit of web science. I’m particularly
fascinated by the paradigmatic clashes; or to put it another way, those who
study the world conclude that it works quite differently to the way
computer science assumes it does.

I explore some key concepts below in this light. I write here primarily for
brevity, offering a few links along the way. Should anyone wish to discuss
any of this further, that would be my pleasure of course.

Decentralization is often confused as an ends rather than a means, more
often by 'the other web3’ community in my experience. While I agree
whole-heartedly that it’s one of “the truths revealed by nature’s living
processes” (Schumacher, 1973), decentralizing can lead just as equally to
poor social outcomes as good ones. Digital decentralization carries
computer science’s premises further into community, making the validity of
those premises all the more critical; existentially so.

*Personal data*
Personal data is defined in law in various jurisdictions. It is a legal
concept. In 'the real world' we have interpersonal data, as ecologists and
sociologists will attest in their own ways (by which data in this context
is synonymous with information). In other words, computer science inherits
the legal conception and does not embrace this truth revealed by nature’s
living processes.

*My data*
“My” here denotes both “data about me” and ownership. The latter must not
be tolerated. The propertisation of personal data is wholly unethical and
must be resisted at every turn. Martin Tisné argues that the idea of data
ownership is a category error with pernicious consequences, and the
European Data Protection Supervisor disliked these consequences so
intensely he likened a market for personal data to a market for live human
organs. (I write more on this here

Agency in co-evolving structure entails a negotiation in and with the world
that the word ‘control’ denies. Attempting to scale control is a false god.
(Woody Hartzog <> talks well to this

*Privacy by design*
The unprecedented scale of application envisaged here demands we take
another look at the decades-old privacy by design (PbD) principles. A
system designed according to the PbD data minimisation principle cannot
take in any other information, and so cannot communicate context (the
information ‘around’ the information), and so in turn may well frustrate
any striving for justice for justice is necessarily contextual.

Computer science inherits the bureaucracy’s conception of identity. Mere
centuries old in current continuous form, I categorise the bureaucratic and
so computer science conceptualisation of identity as noun-like (after
Bauman, Z. 2011; Fuller, B. et al. 1970). The conceptualisations of every
other discipline with an interest in the matter may be categorised as
verb-like, which alone should be seen as a red flag. Examples of the latter
include considering information exchange, relationships, and identity to be
reciprocally defining and co-evolving, and considering identity as the
capacity for and the process of sense-making.

Computer science is dedicated to making *things* legible to the system
rather than helping humans relate to each other. Autopoiesis and cognition
are rarely discussed by the identity digerati.

Encoding only the noun-like leads inevitably to a pollution of the
information ecology of human nature and human culture. For the avoidance of
any confusion, pollution is contextual; a thing or process may be both
highly prized and a pollutant simultaneously subject to contexts, and the
art then is to constrain its application accordingly. Constraint is too
rarely mentioned let alone operationalised, and it seems no-one is 'coding
for the verb-like’ so to speak. (See Human identity: the number one
challenge in computer science

Kind regards, Philip.


Philip Sheldrake

On 20 Mar 2023 at 18:44:01, Melvin Carvalho <>

> st 15. 3. 2023 v 4:32 odesílatel Danny Ayers <>
> napsal:
>> It is in scope for TAG, the W3C and whatever. But the idea your version
>> is the one. If you want to keep the W3C relatively independent, that
>> doesn't work. If Microsoft and Apple have to drop their version of scripts,
>> so should you.
> It's still about bringing the web to its full potential.  Solid is a
> pretty good effort in that direction IMHO
> What does it do?
> - Adds a social element (started with FOAF)
> - Adds authentication
> - Adds persistent storage, towards a read write web
> - Adds human and machine readable data
> - Adds realtime updates
> - Friendly to humans and agents
> What are the limitations:
> - Still a bit buggy
> - Some UX issues
> - Largely (but not soley) based on turtle, which is a small part of the web
> - Not 100% backwards compatible e.g. requires conneg and few on the web do
> that
> - Steep learning curve for new developers
> - Lacks plain old JSON interop (personal observation)
> Not the only way of doing things, but definitely something interesting /
> creative / innovative.  It also lends itself well to interoperability,
> together with future and past innovations.
>> On Sun, 24 Jul 2022 at 15:18, Tim Berners-Lee <> wrote:
>>> Solid is a growing protocol/movement, and the tech parts of it — the
>>> Solid Project — are basically a W3C Community group.
>>> Solid adds things which the web needed but hadn’t yet standardized,
>>> including global single sign-in, standard access control, and a fast API
>>> for data read-write between an app and a store (a Solid Pod).  By making
>>> the API to the store universal, it means you don’t have to change the store
>>> when you make a new app, which completely changes the architecture and
>>> markets and business models which are possible. It also leaves individuals
>>> empowered rather than exploited.
>>> Would it be reasonable for the TAG to review the architecture at a high
>>> level, or review the protocol?  It would be useful to get a knowledge of
>>> the Solid stack in neighboring parts of the technology.
>>> (A separate future question are the client-client interop specs which
>>> are needed for interop between apps, such as contacts, chat, etc.)
>>> See is where the
>>> specs end up after their github-based proces.
>>> Best wishes
>>> Tim BL
>> --
>> ----
>> <>

Received on Thursday, 23 March 2023 13:43:14 UTC