Re: Reviewing the Solid protocol

Thank you Melvin for your reply.

Regarding your observation that my comments would be more appropriate at
the brainstorming stage, I couldn’t agree more.

I have followed the Solid project since 2009, and even had the privilege to
chair a keynote by TBL partly on the matter at the Royal Society in 2011.
But my research into sociology and ecology was only just starting at this
juncture, and more broadly web science is of course a never-ending pursuit
for all of us.

So here we are. The dedication to interdisciplinarity that is the hallmark
of web science is putting a stick in the spokes.

Perhaps I can put it another way. I began my career designing assembly
lines for diesel engines. In light of the action that we know we need to
take today in terms of sustainable transport, I wouldn’t dismiss this
understanding and continue producing diesel engines on the basis that we
should have thought about it all at the brainstorming stage.

The founding principles of a variety of sociotechnological innovations —
particularly by my analysis those that embrace and work towards
decentralized ubiquity — require significant revision, and this includes
Solid as much as we might all wish otherwise.


On 23 Mar 2023 at 19:04:32, Melvin Carvalho <>

> čt 23. 3. 2023 v 14:43 odesílatel Philip Sheldrake <
>> napsal:
>> 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*
>> 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
>> <>
>> .)
>> *Control*
>> 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 imho.)
>> *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.
>> *Identity*
>> 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.
> Hi Philip
> Solid has been a work in progress for 15 years, or you could argue a bit
> before with FOAF, for 20 years.  Your comments seem to be more at the
> brainstorming stage
> An update:  I was pointed to the proposed DRAFT solid working group
> charter (draft emphasis mine, as I think it's still early)
> From what I can see most of the deliverables are more or less nailed
> down.  There's some room at the edges for changes, but not alot for drastic
> rewrites.
> Exit criteria being 2+ implementations and a test suite, which I think
> Solid already has.  So I expect it to ossify what's already there.
> Seems a fairly straightword shift from a v0.10.0 spec to a v1.0.0 spec
> with wider W3C review.  Probably not a lot of substantive change.
>> ___
>> Philip Sheldrake
>> On 20 Mar 2023 at 18:44:01, Melvin Carvalho <>
>> wrote:
>>> 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 Friday, 24 March 2023 09:50:01 UTC