As soon as I started hearing rumors about Solid. I was intrigued. Tim Berners Lee, the invented of the World Wide Web is involved. He wants to give me control of my data? Sign me up please.
Solid stands for (Social Linked Data). It is a project in development at MIT. More about Solid here. What is Solid?
What is Solid pod?
So, what is a Solid Pod? It’s basically me, or my identity on the web. And its you. Your connections. Your emails. Your photos. Your digital self.
A Solid Pod is where your data is stored.
A key feature of Solid is a WebID, which could be called your digital social security number, only it’s not issued by the government.
This means you control your data. Not Facebook, not Google. They won’t hold your information and keeping on their servers, where it can be hacked and stolen. Instead, you have it. That means you’re responsible for its safety.
Right now my pod is hosted by Inrupt – which is the company that Tim Berners Lee started. Someday, hopefully I can have my own personal server for storing that data.
I hope that eventually, instead of connecting my google profile to a website to easily login I’ll use my WebID, which is connected to my Solid pod. But for that to happen we need to have webpages and apps that use the Solid security features.
How do you sign up?
I encourage you to read more about Inrupt. Here a link directly to Tim Berners Lee article: One Small Step for the Web. He ends with this quote, which I find very inspiring: “The future is much bigger than the past.” He is very much an advocate for a free and open web. Right now we have ‘walled gardens’. Our on-line experiences are tightly controlled by Facebook, by Google, or Amazon. They use our data to make money, to sell advertising.
Get your Solid Pod here from Inrupt.com, or the Solid Community.
There is a really rough user guide on Github (which if you’ve never encountered before is a coding community. Instead of articles, or a forum post, you’ll encounter a Readme file that has information about a project.) The user guide gives a basic overview of the Data stored in your Solid Pod. They call it a Data Browser.
My experience with Solid Pod
I signed up at Inrupt and it was like any other website. You select ‘Get a Pod’, then register. You’ll pick a user name, a password and give them your email in case you forget your password.
Then you are given a Web ID, and can login. Ultimately, you end up with a very empty public homepage. This is the Data Browser. It has links to a public profile, a private inbox, and public folder. Links lead to a list of Apps in development, and a friends portal. See the Data browser user guide above for more detailed descriptions.
A word of caution: it’s still early days on this project. Very early days. There are a lot of rough edges. The apps are not user-friendly, or still being created. There is barely any graphical interfaces. I feel like I’m poking around in the admin folders of my computer with all kinds of numbers and strange file names. Stuff I shouldn’t have access too, but I do. I hope I don’t break anything.
I have lots of questions. What do I put in my Solid Pod? Photos? How do I connect to other people? What can I share? Is it okay to put my public profile here on my web page? I’m hesitant to do that. But it’s just my public profile. So, here is my Solid home. Someone tell me if it doesn’t work, please. I’m curious to know what you see.
I managed to update my public profile card, but I’m still searching for a way to add a photo of myself. I check on the friends app. It linked me to this page:
This looked promising.
I tried to sign in with my WebID, but nothing happened.
It didn’t let me make any friends, which is rather depressing. What did I do wrong? Does this friends app exist?
As I’ve been working on this post a couple of times I haven’t been able to reconnect to Solid or login, and my Solid Home only reappeared in Chrome. (It’s never connected using Edge or Firefox.) If you’re having any trouble, the Inrupt website may be getting swamped and overloaded with inquires into Solid PODs.
I’m new to coding and tech development, but currently back in school for a degree in Media Arts. Solid has grabbed my attention, so I’ll be keeping an eye on it.
Is Data Control Important?
Yes. To me it is. Right now my loyalty is also up for grabs. I’m curious to find out which web browser and which apps are going to implement this technology.
I’ve been leaning heavily toward Google the last few years. I use Google Docs almost exclusively, instead of Microsoft Word. I publish my books on Amazon. I haven’t been on Facebook in 5 months, but I use Instagram more often. So I ping-pong around the internet, looking for deals, and which apps and sites suit my life and work. In the last year I’ve come to understand my data and my opinion is valuable. So having personal data control is high on my priority list.
Do you worry about your data getting stolen? How do you keep track of all your passwords? How are you protecting yourself? What do you think about the Solid PODs? Any one else sign up recently?
Let me know in the comments.