Jaarcongres ECP 2019 - Solid Session Summary

On November 14th, PLDN was involved in a Solid session at the Jaarcongres ECP in The Hague. Our ambition was to share with a wider audience the global Solid ambitions and how Solid works and we also wanted to share what Solid activities and use cases we would like to develop further in the Netherlands and where we need help when we want to make the next steps with Solid.

In this summary we will describe the highlights of this Solid session.

Mitzi László – Tech and the Human Touch

Mitzi works as the Solid manager with Tim Berners-Lee within the global Solid Project organization. In her presentation she highlighted the current state of the web with 51,2% of the global population online, but also with a lot of undesirable data lock-in by large organizations (walled gardens), where your personal data is locked into their systems and cannot be used freely by the owners of that data. This has also led to a number of severe incidents with data that we would like to solve with the global Solid initiative.

Solid is a new web standard that stores your personal data in Personal Operational Data Stores (Pods) and that will separate your data from identification mechanisms and from apps, which means that you are free to use and combine identification mechanisms that are required in certain situations and that you are free to use whatever Solid app is available and that you would like to use. With Solid your personal data is stored in your Pod and stays in your Pod, also when you e.g. decide to use a new second app instead of a first app you used before with the same of very similar functionality that uses and stores the same data in your Pod.

This opens up a bright new perspective of more positive value creation with data instead of the negative value extraction that is done by many traditional web applications at this moment. And it also opens up the way to permissionless innovation, where you are not forced by large organizations to use a certain apps, identity or storage mechanisms. The ambition is to stimulate more open, more decent and more human-centric competition in data and app markets based upon service quality, where we are data agents and not just another controversial business model.

One very interesting question that came up during the session was, whether local governments and the EU should be more involved in stimulating further usage and adoption of Solid as a preferred way of working with personal data. We think that this is very good idea and the Solid Project organization is open to discuss this further with representatives from these organizations. We think that it would be good to incorporate the Solid standard in future solutions for personal data that it becomes a preferred solution at internet scale.

Pieter van Everdingen – Solid Activities and Use Cases in the Netherlands

In the second part of the Solid session, Pieter van Everdingen, who works as the PLDN community manager, gave an overview of the current Solid activities in the Netherlands and of the Solid use cases we have discussed within our local Solid community during our Solid Meetups. PLDN has been involved in organizing several Solid Meetups with local leads, like Solid Utrecht, Solid The Hague and Solid Amsterdam and is also involved in organizing Solid Enschede on December 20th at the University Twente.

We see a large number of interesting Solid use cases that we can work on, but unfortunately we also see that starting up work activities for these cases is happening slowly. The good thing is that we can already show some first results now, but we are also looking for ways to speed up the development activities for Solid use cases. And we would also like to stimulate the growth of Solid activities in our local Solid community and the adoption of the Solid standard for Solid Pods and apps that make use of personal data.

We would like to make the transition from experiments to sustainable and scalable solutions within a reasonable timeframe. And we are currently in a transition phase to more maturity and more productivity in our activities with the Solid standard, the tooling and with the growing Solid community in the Netherlands and wordwide. From a small MIT research project we would like to move to a large global movement, ecosystem and community and a better version of the web.

During the last part of the presentation, Pieter pointed out that the Solid movement needs your help to make the next steps with Solid. We would also like to see more focused activities by e.g. prioritizing the Solid use case from most promising to least promising and we would like to work with business developers to develop te most promising use cases. We would also like to work with e.g. universities and academies to discuss how we can work with teachers and students to get Solid into their curricula and to define challenges for student that they can work on a interesting topic or use case within the total Solid ecosystem. And we would like to collaborate with other data and developer communities that we can get Solid also on their radar and to stimulate more app developing activities, better and more comprehensive tooling and to establish Solid app development best practices and re-usable patterns that would make development activities more efficient. We need more structure and more support to develop promising use cases faster and more sustainable, since the current activities are too ad-hoc.

The slides of Pieter’s presentation are available via the following link:

Pieter van Everdingen – Solid Activities & Use Cases in The Netherlands (pdf)


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