The new thing from Tim Berners-Lee

I just stumbled onto this, so some of you may also be unfamiliar with it:

“Solid was created by the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Its mission is to reshape the web as we know it. Solid will foster a new breed of applications with capabilities above and beyond anything that exists today.”


I read about this recently. Sounds like Tim is really disgusted with how the internet has evolved.

I don’t know if Solid will fix or replace anything, or we’ll end up in the same place with better tech 20 years from now.

Either way, Solid sounds pretty wild, and I’d love to play with it!


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A few years before I retired I had a professional email conversation with Tim. My concern then (and still) was internet security. I not too subtly suggested that there were glaring security problems inherent in the fundamental design of the internet (and I’m not really a network guy). My conversation was motivated by an article Tim had published.

He didn’t try and duck the issue. He agreed and said he (and others) were working on it. At the time, he made no mention of Solid or anything like it. his message was that the internet could be fixed, enhanced, revised, whatever in order to address the problems.

My guess (and it’s only a guess) is that two things changed his mind: 1) the current design of the internet is impossible to secure, every attempt at plugging up a vulnerability exposed new problems, and 2) the ability to legislate away an open internet set him off on a new design direction that could not be throttled based on the economic interests of ISPs and content providers.

The “About” statement doesn’t come out and say this, but it alludes to the security problems in that the internet as it is today is based on anonymous browsers. And the time frame given (2003) is about the same time frame as my email conversation with Tim. I’ve not read the Community or Forum pages on the linked site, so my second item is pure speculation. I don’t know if they allude to it in the discussions.

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The “About” statement doesn’t come out and say this, but it alludes to the security problems in that the internet as it is today is based on anonymous browsers.


The issue with writing data, as wikipedia and others have learned, is that you need a degree of control over who can write what. That means you need to have permissions - what can individuals do to the data. And to have permissions you need to have a system for identity - a way of uniquely confirming that an individual is who they purport to be.

What I learned from wikipedia was that an A–HOLE can edit and censor what you write. That was my first and last collaboration with wikipedia. What works is Ted Nelson’s hypertext where you never destroy old data, you create edited versions of it. If an A–HOLE wants to edit your writing, he can, but the original is still there forever. “Control over who can write what” creates masters and servants.

Denny Schlesinger

Ted Nelson
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Theodor Holm “Ted” Nelson (born June 17, 1937) is an American pioneer of information technology, philosopher and sociologist. He coined the terms hypertext and hypermedia in 1963 and published them in 1965.[1] Nelson coined the terms transclusion,[1] virtuality,[2] and intertwingularity (in Literary Machines), and teledildonics[3]. According to a 1997 Forbes profile, Nelson “sees himself as a literary romantic, like a Cyrano de Bergerac, or ‘the Orson Welles of software.’”[4]

I still reference wikipedia but I don’t thrust the ideology of the people that run it, the people that have “Control over who can write what”.