Ruben Verborgh, Ghent University – imec – idlab
Originally designed as a decentralized network, the Web has undergone a significant centralization in recent years. In order to regain freedom and control over the digital aspects of our lives, we should understand how we arrived at this point and how we can get back on track. This chapter explains the history of decentralization in a Web context, and details Tim Berners-Lee’s role in the continued battle for a free and open Web. The challenges and solutions are not purely technical in nature, but rather fit into a larger socio-economic puzzle, to which all of us are invited to contribute. Let us take back the Web for good, and leverage its full potential as envisioned by its creator.
web最初设计为分布式网络，近年来经历了明显的集中化。为了重新获得对我们生活中数字世界的自由和控制，我们应当了解我们如何到达现状以及我们如何能够重新走上正轨。本章解释了Web环境中分散化的历史，并详细介绍了Tim Berners-Lee在继续争取自由开放 Web 的过程中所扮演的角色。挑战和解决方案本质上不仅仅是技术性的，而是针对更大的社会&经济难题，我们所有人都应该参与其中。让我们一起使 WEB 走向更好，并充分利用其创建者所设想的全部潜力。
As an inventor, you might envision a purpose and destiny for your creation—yet ultimately, people decide how they put it to use. John Pemberton aimed to cure morphine addicts when he started brewing the potion now known as Coca-Cola, Noah McVicker’s Play-Doh served as a wall-cleaner before it became a children’s toy, and Alfred Nobel declared yearly prizes so he would not be remembered for dynamite’s military purposes. Admirably, Tim Berners-Lee never even intended to control his own invention: his former employer cern released the World Wide Web software openly, and the Web itself is designed in a decentralized way so that no one can decide who can say what. This unprecedented openness has led to large-scale permissionless innovation and unbounded creativity, provides a voice to more than half of the world’s population, and has revolutionized communication, education, and business. However, a consequence of this freedom is also that anyone can create things that go against the spirit of the Web, such as illegal materials and—ironically—platforms whose primary goal is centralization.
作为一个发明家，你可能会想到你的创作的目的和命运 - 但最终，人们决定如何使用它。当他开始酿造现在被称为可口可乐的魔药时，John Pemberton的目的是治疗吗啡成瘾者，Noah McVicker的Play-Doh在它成为儿童玩具之前担任墙壁清洁剂，而Alfred Nobel宣布年度奖品，因此他不会被记住用于炸药的军事目的。令人钦佩的是，Tim Berners-Lee甚至从未打算控制自己的发明：他的前雇主cern公开发布了万维网，而网络本身是以去中心化的方式设计，因此没有人可以决定谁可以说什么。这种前所未有的开放性导致了大规模的无限创新和无限创造力，为世界一半以上的人口提供了发言权，并彻底改变了通信，教育和商业。然而，这种自由的结果也是任何人都可以创造违背网络精神的东西，例如非法材料和讽刺平台，其主要目标是集中化。
The concept of centralization does not pose a problem in and of itself: there are good reasons for bringing people and things together. The situation becomes problematic when we are robbed of our choice, deceived into thinking there is only one access gate to a space that, in reality, we collectively own. Some time ago, it seemed unimaginable that a fundamentally open platform like the Web would become the foundation for closed spaces, where we pay with our personal data for a fraction of the freedoms that are actually already ours. Yet a majority of Web users today find themselves confined to the boundaries of a handful of influential social networks for their daily interactions. Such networks gather opinions from all over the world, only to condense that richness into one space, where they simultaneously act as the director and judge of the resulting stream they present to us.
集中化的概念本身并不构成问题：有充分的理由将人和事物集中在一起。情况变得有问题，当我们被剥夺了我们的选择时，例如让你误以为只有一个通道通往一个世界 ，实际上我们可以拥有自己的选择。在不久之前，想象 Web 这样一个开放平台将成为一个封闭空间似乎是不可思议的，我们用我们的个人数据支付实际已经是我们自由的一小部分自由。然而，今天的大多数网络用户发现他们的日常互动仅限于少数有影响力的社交网络。这样的网络收集来自世界各地的想法，却只是将这种丰富性浓缩到一个空间中，在那里他们同时充当导演和裁判,在他们呈现给我们的结果中。
Because this change happened so suddenly, perhaps we need a reminder that the Web landscape looked quite different not even that long ago. In 2008, Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan was sentenced to 20 years of jail, primarily because of blog posts he had written. He and many others were able to state their critical opinions because they had the Web as an open platform, so they did not depend on anyone’s permission to publish their words. Crucially, the Web’s hyperlinking mechanism lets blogs point to each other, again without requiring any form of permission. This allows for a decentralized value network between equals, where readers remain in active and conscious control of their next move. When Derakhshan was eventually released in 2014, he came back to an entirely different Web : critical readers had transformed into passive viewers, as if watching television. While Web technology had of course evolved, its core foundations had not—it was the way people were using the Web that had become unrecognizable in a mere 6 years.
因为这种变化发生的如此突然，或许我们需要提醒一下，WEB 不是现在这样，在不久之前。 2008年，伊朗博客作家 Hossein Derakhshan被判处20年监禁，主要原因是他撰写的博客文章。他和其他许多人能够陈述他们的批评意见，因为他们将网络作为一个开放的平台，所以他们不依赖任何人的许可来发表他们的话。至关重要的是，Web的超链接机制允许博客相互指向，同样无需任何形式的许可。这允许构建一个去中心化网络，由读者保持对其下一步行动的主动和有意识的控制。当 Derakhshan 最终在2014年被释放时，他又回到了一个完全不同的 WEB：批判性的读者已经转变为被动的观众，就好像在看电视一样。虽然Web技术已经发展，但它的核心基础却没有 - 而人们使用网络的方式在短短6年内变得无法识别。
Of course, social media are not our enemies here: they should be credited with lowering the barrier for the online publication of short texts and photos by anyone. Yet they operate under a winner-takes-all strategy, each striving to become the dominant portal instead of mutually interoperating like the rest of the Web. In contrast to blogs, we typically cannot interact with posts in one network from within another: we would need to either move the people or the data. This famous walled gardens problem of social media  has significantly worsened since 2008, because some gardens have grown huge while their walls remain in place. A major problem is that access to the dominant networks invariably means giving up control over our personal data: we can enter through the door in the wall if we pay with our digital belongings. That personal data can then be leveraged to unwittingly influence us through excessively personalized advertising for brands, products, and even political agendas. Furthermore, once there, people tend to form small conversational circles within each garden—an effect that is further amplified by the inward focus of social media platforms and their algorithms that favor maximizing engagement over diversity. The resulting filter bubble  isolates us into our own echo chambers, whereas the Web’s purpose—and social media’s claim—has always been to connect.
当然，社交媒体在这里不是我们的敌人：他们应该被认为可以降低任何人在线发布短文和照片的障碍。然而，它们在赢家通吃战略下运作，每一个都努力想成为占主导地位的门户，而不是像其他网络那样相互互操作。与博客相比，我们通常无法与另一个网络中的帖子进行互动：我们需要迁移我们的数字身份或数据。这个着名的围墙花园社交媒体问题自2008年以来已经明显恶化，因为一些花园在其墙壁保持原位的同时变大了。一个主要的问题是，访问占主导地位的网络总是意味着放弃对我们个人数据的控制：如果我们使用我们的数字资产付款，我们就可以通过隔离墙进入。然后可以利用这些个人数据，通过对品牌，产品甚至政治议程的过度个性化广告来无意中影响我们。此外，一旦出现这种情况，人们往往会在每个花园内形成一个小型的对话圈 - 这种效应会被社交媒体平台及其算法的内在焦点所进一步放大，这有利于最大限度地参与多样性。由此产生的滤波器气泡将我们隔离到我们自己的回声室中，虽然 Web 的目标和社交媒体所声称的 - 一直是连接。
Unsurprisingly, these problems are reflected in three challenges for the Web that Tim Berners-Lee put forward in 2017:
不出所料，这些问题反映在Tim Berners-Lee在2017年提出的 web 三个挑战中：
- taking back control of our personal data;
- preventing the spread of misinformation;
- realizing transparency for political advertising.
Clearly, it is undesirable to tackle these challenges through centralized solutions, for instance by appointing an authority for personal data, news, and advertising. This would create yet another single point of failure, which—even assuming the best of intentions—would always be more vulnerable to abuse. The core issue in this situation is ultimately not one with the individual social networks, but with their hyper-centralization of data and people, and therefore power. We want control, but we want to put that control in the hands of every person, as a right they can choose to exercise over the data they create.
显然，通过集中解决方案来解决这些挑战是不可取的，例如通过指定个人数据，新闻和广告的权限。这将产生另一个单一的失败点 - 即使假设最好的意图 - 也总是更容易被滥用。在这种情况下的核心问题最终不是个人社交网络，而是数据和人员的超集中化，也是权力的集中化。我们想要控制，但我们希望将控制权交给每个人，作为他们可以选择对他们创建的数据进行使用的权利。
From the above, it is clear that our primary obstacles are not technological ; hence Tim Berners-Lee’s call  to assemble the brightest minds from business, technology, government, civil society, the arts, and academia to tackle the threats to the Web’s future. Yet at the same time, computer scientists and engineers need to deliver the technological burden of proof that decentralized personal data networks can scale globally and that they can provide people with an experience similar to that of centralized platforms.
In this chapter, we will therefore start with a technological perspective on decentralization, highlighting Tim Berners-Lee’s role in the continuing fight to keep the Web open and decentralized. After a historical overview of power struggles on the Web, we will zoom in on the changes that decentralization requires, and examine what a more healthy ecosystem would look like. As a concrete implementation of these principles, we will study the Solid project. We will end with a discussion of open challenges and an outlook on the future.
在本文中，我们将从去中心化的技术角度入手，强调Tim Berners-Lee在继续保持网络开放和分散的斗争中的作用。在对网络上的权力斗争进行历史回顾之后，我们将放大去中心化所需求的条件，并考察一个更健康的生态系统所应有的样子。作为这些原则的具体执行，我们将研究 Solid 项目。最后，我们将讨论公开挑战和对未来的展望。
A short history of (de-)centralization and the Web （WEB 与 去中心化的简短历史）
The arrows of the decentralization movement have not always been aimed at social media—and they likely will not be anymore at some point in the future. The forces causing centralization have instead been a moving target: every time a threat had been addressed, an even bigger one superseded it. Understanding these threats will provide us with insights into the different facets of decentralization and their importance.
去中心化运动的方向并不总是针对社交媒体 - 它们可能在将来的某个时候不再存在。引起集中化的力量反过来又是一个不断变化的目标：每当威胁得到解决，一个更大的威胁就会取而代之。了解这些威胁将使我们深入了解去中心化的不同方面及其重要性。
Decentralized systems, which do not require a central mediator to function, were already around at the time the Web was invented. Most notably, the Internet was increasingly gaining popularity as a large-scale decentralized network. Email was even more decentralized than the traditional postal mail service it mimicked, since different mail servers would directly exchange messages with each other. Long forgotten protocols such as the Network News Transfer Protocol (nntp) allowed for the decentralized exchange of news articles. In short, decentralization was not some crazy new idea, but rather the spirit of the time.
Therefore, when Tim Berners-Lee set out to design a new hypertext system in 1989, it was presumed to be decentralized, in contrast to documentation systems of the time, but in alignment with many others. The main selling point of the Web was its universality , its independence of, among others, hardware and software; decentralization was simply the unspoken assumption. This is reflected in the original article introducing the Web , which emphasizes universal readability across operating systems, but does not mention the term decentralization at all.
因此，当Tim Berners-Lee在1989年开始设计一个新的超文本系统时，它被认为是分散的，与当时的文档系统相反，但与许多其他系统保持一致。网络的主要卖点是它的普遍性，它的独立性，其中包括硬件和软件;去中心化只是一个不言而喻的假设。这反映在引入Web 的原始文章中，该文章强调跨操作系统的通用可读性，但根本没有提到术语分散。
The only component with centralized roots in the Web’s architectural design is the Domain Name System (dns), which resolves the domain name part of a Web address (such as example.org) to a physical machine on the Internet. This was not as much of an issue back in the days when the number of domains was relatively small and domain ownership would be stationary. Nowadays, millions of domain names frequently change hands, thereby breaking existing links in possibly malicious ways. By manipulating dns, governments can block or alter access to existing websites. Tim Berners-Lee has indicated that, in hindsight, a more decentralized naming system might have been preferred. Apart from that, the Web contained all ingredients to thrive in a decentralized way.
在Web架构设计中集中根源的唯一组件是域名系统（dns），它将Web地址（例如example.org）的域名部分解析为Internet上的物理机器。在领域数量相对较少且域名所有权不稳定的日子里，这并不是一个问题。如今，数以百万计的域名经常易手，从而以可能的恶意方式破坏现有链接。通过操纵DNS，政府可以阻止或改变对现有网站的访问。 Tim Berners-Lee表示，事后看来，一个更分散的命名系统可能更受欢迎。除此之外，网络包含了以分散的方式发展的所有成分。
A first wave of centralization resulted as collateral damage from the browser war of the nineties, in which companies competed to become the sole vendor of the software through which we access the Web. The Web’s design principle of universality demanded readability on any platform, so the emergence of multiple browsers was a blessing—except that they strived for market domination rather than mutually beneficial co-existence. The Netscape browser and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer tried to convert each other’s users through new features, with Internet Explorer reaching over 90% of connected desktops at its peek.
第一波集中化是九十年代浏览器大战导致的附带损害结果，其中公司竞争成为我们访问网络的软件的唯一供应商。网络的普遍性设计原则要求在任何平台上都具有可读性，因此多个浏览器的出现是一种福祉 - 除了它们争取市场支配而不是互利共存。 Netscape浏览器和微软的Internet Explorer试图通过新功能转换对方的用户，其中Internet Explorer可以直接覆盖90％以上的连接桌面。
While competition through innovation is fine, these features came at the cost of incompatibility across browsers and therefore directly endangered the Web’s universality. Websites would carry badges such as best viewed in Internet Explorer, since a consistent experience across platforms could not be guaranteed. Those who did not want to use a particular browser—or who could not install it because no compatible version for their system existed—would be unable to access such websites fully or at all. The resulting de-facto browser monopoly infringed on people’s preference for browser or operating system, centralizing the Web’s decision process in one company that thereby determined the rate of innovation.
虽然通过创新进行竞争很好，但这些功能是以跨浏览器不兼容为代价的，因此直接危及网络的普遍性。网站会带有最好在Internet Explorer中查看的徽章，因为无法保证跨平台的一致体验。那些不想使用特定浏览器的人 - 或因为没有系统的兼容版本而无法安装它的人 - 将无法完全或根本无法访问这些网站。由此产生的事实上的浏览器垄断侵犯了人们对浏览器或操作系统的偏好，将Web的决策过程集中在一家公司中，从而决定了创新的速度。
The World Wide Web Consortium (w3c) was founded by Tim Berners-Lee with a mission of compatibility, enabling cross-browser consistency through recommendations that specify the correct workings of Web technologies. While w3c standardization is administratively centralized, it incorporates feedback from a decentralized network of members through a consensus-driven process. A problem by the early 2000s was that Internet Explorer deviated from w3c recommendations at crucial points, forcing developers to follow either the actual standards or their incorrect implementation in the most popular browser.
万维网联盟（w3c）由Tim Berners-Lee创建，其使命是兼容性，通过指定Web技术正确工作的建议实现跨浏览器一致性。虽然w3c标准化在行政上是集中的，但它通过共识驱动的流程结合来自分散的成员网络的反馈。 21世纪初的一个问题是Internet Explorer在关键点偏离了w3c建议，迫使开发人员遵循实际标准或在最流行的浏览器中不正确的实现。
Fortunately, pressure from Firefox and Safari during a second browser war eventually forced Microsoft onto a more standards-oriented course . Since 2010, no single browser has gained more than two thirds of global market share anymore, meaning that standards compatibility is now in the interest of browser vendors and Web developers alike. The balkanization of the Web through centralized browser development has thereby largely been averted.
Microsoft’s short-lived victory after the first browser war quickly turned out to be insignificant, since the centralization battle had gradually shifted to other fields. While each browser was quarreling to become the default application, search engines were racing to become the main entry point. Soon, it did not matter anymore what software you used for browsing; what mattered was who gave you the directions of where to browse next. After all, no immediate income could be generated from free browser development, whereas companies would gladly pay for a prime spot in one of the major search engines’ rankings.
The early search engine landscape featured several competitors, such as AltaVista and Lycos, but it took Google only a couple of years to become by far the most popular. The centralization of search meant that one company gained an overly strong influence on what content people would access, based on the ordering of search results for given terms. Even assuming the best of intentions and ignoring paid advertising, the fact that one algorithm makes decisions for a large number of people leads to an information bias, as there clearly exists no single objective way to rank the best webpages on any topic. External attempts to manipulate these algorithms started to occur, first through relatively simple interventions such as misleading keywords, later through advanced Search Engine Optimization (seo) techniques that aimed to improve website rankings in various (and sometimes dubious) ways.
The advent of search engines also brought the first online monetization of user-generated data. Our search terms contribute to a detailed profile of what we need in our private and professional lives. Search engines might know more about some aspects of our lives than our close friends. This profile determines the ads we receive and the personalization of our search results, encouraging us to visit websites and buy things we otherwise might not have. While personalization has helpful effects for many people, the problem is that we are left without choice or control. We are directed to the large search engines, which, due to their large accumulation of data, provide us with the best search experience. Yet these search engines do not provide us with options for how we want to pay for their services, as most of them only accept our personal data. Furthermore, we are not informed about—let alone given control over—how exactly our data influences our search results. The increasing personalization gave rise to the first filter bubbles , wherein we are more likely to see results similar to those we previously clicked on.
搜索引擎的出现也带来了用户生成数据的首次在线货币化。我们的搜索字词有助于详细了解我们在私人和职业生活中需要什么。搜索引擎可能比我们的亲密朋友更了解我们生活的某些方面。这些个人资料会确定我们收到的广告和搜索结果的个性化，鼓励我们访问网站并购买我们可能没有的物品。虽然个性化对许多人有帮助，但问题是我们没有选择或控制。我们面向大型搜索引擎，由于数据的大量积累，它们为我们提供了最佳的搜索体验。然而，这些搜索引擎并没有为我们提供支付服务费用的选项，因为大多数搜索引擎只接受我们的个人数据。此外，我们没有被告知 - 更不用说通过我们的数据如何影响我们的搜索结果。个性化的增加引发了第一个滤波泡，我们更有可能看到与我们之前点击的结果类似的结果。
The race for our personal data and identity 在我们的个人数据和身份识别领域的竞争
While the reign of Google still continues, social media have found an even more powerful way of collecting and marketing our personal data. The social Web revolution of the 2000s encouraged people to be present online, which drove many of us to various platforms to share blog posts, bookmarks, photos, videos, and more. Some year later, social media companies created centralized platforms to take over many of these features, which until then were spread out across multiple providers. These platforms store our personal data and request far-reaching usage rights in exchange for their services, all of which operate within their own walled garden.
Like search engines, the main service of social networks consists of a linear list of content, ranked by factors and algorithms we can only minimally influence. In contrast to search, a social feed is generated without any input terms from our side, like a television that no longer requires a remote. The ensuing show is meticulously personalized based on data we consciously left on social network platforms, combined with traces from our browsing history picked up—without our concious consent —by social trackers on third-party websites. In his 2018 Dertouzos distinguished lecture, Tim Berners-Lee mentioned that political advertising has been banned from television in the uk  because of concerns about the impact of such a direct medium. Yet by that logic, he continued, we should be much more concerned about the heavily personalized political advertising that current social media platforms enable and allow. Even if we refrain from explicitly sharing certain sensitive traits, seemingly insignificant pieces of other data can be combined into reliable predictors of highly personal information  such as sexual orientation, ethnicity, and religious or political views, which are subsequently used to target us.
与搜索引擎一样，社交网络的主要服务包括线性内容列表，按因素和算法排列，我们只能最小化影响。与搜索相反，社交网络内容在没有任何输入条款的情况下生成，就像不再需要遥控器的电视一样。随后的节目将根据我们有意识地留在社交网络平台上的数据进行精心个性化，并结合我们浏览历史记录中的痕迹 - 未经我们的同意 - 在第三方网站上进行社交跟踪。在 2018 年 Dertouzos 的杰出讲座中，Tim Berners-Lee 提到政治广告已被禁止在英国电视，因为担心这种直接媒介的影响。然而，通过这种逻辑，他继续说道，我们应该更加关注当前社交媒体平台启用和允许的大量个性化政治广告。即使我们没有明确地分享某些敏感特征，看似无关紧要的其他数据也可以组合成高度个人信息的可靠预测因子，如性取向，种族，宗教或政治观点，这些预测随后用于瞄准我们。
As in the previous two centralization races, a subtle force is exerted upon us: we feel pressured to be part of the large networks, because not joining means missing out on the volatile virtual traces of our friends’ and family members’ lives. Often the easiest way for grandparents to see their grandchildren’s latest pictures is to create a Facebook or Instagram account. This is how the digital memory of a large part of today’s generation ends up in one space, often beyond control of those that are part of the memories. The centralization of our online activities has become so extreme that some Facebook users have become unaware of their ability to access the Internet . This paradox has sadly become a reality in many countries, where Facebook’s Internet.org initiative provides a severely constrained version of the Web that further reduces people’s options, in blatant violation of Net Neutrality.
Meanwhile, another race is happening in the background, namely the battle to become our identity provider. An increasing number of websites are gradually replacing their own login systems with authentication tied to large platforms such as Google or Facebook. For people with an existing account, the Log in with Facebook buttons are a convenience. For those without, they form additional pressure to join. And in both cases, such buttons are yet another way of tracking our online activities. This centralization of identity takes away our freedom to assume the persona we want—be it anonymous, pseudonymous, or just ourselves—without needing to expose data we consider our own.
与此同时，另一场比赛正在后台发生，即成为我们身份提供者的战斗。越来越多的网站正在逐步取代自己的登录系统，其身份验证与Google或Facebook等大型平台相关联。对于拥有现有帐户的人来说，使用Facebook登录按钮非常方便。对于那些没有的人，他们会加入更多的压力。在这两种情况下，这些按钮都是跟踪我们在线活动的另一种方式。这种身份的集中拿走了我们想要扮演的身份 - 无论是匿名，假名还是仅仅是我们自己 - 而不需要暴露我们认为属于我们自己的数据。
Data ownership by decoupling storage from service （夺回数据所有权通过解耦存储&服务）
A recurring theme in the above centralization races is the lack of choice: a choice of browser and operating system, of entry point to the Web, of storage for our personal data. Decentralization is fundamentally about enabling choice, by breaking up artificially coupled decisions into individual options that can be combined at will. Just as we are free to choose any combination of device, operating system, and browser to access the Web, we should be able to interact with websites and other people without commitment to a single social or other platform.
Taking back control of our personal data, as envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee, is realized by decoupling data storage from services. This means people can store their data wherever they choose, while still enjoying the services they want. We can pick any provider to store our texts, photos, and videos—or simply store them on our own Web server—and rely on any third-party service to interact with them, regardless of storage location. The crucial service of identity can, but does not need to, be provided by the data storage.
如Tim Berners-Lee所设想的那样，收回对我们个人数据的控制是通过将数据存储与服务分离来实现的。这意味着人们可以将数据存储在他们选择的任何地方，同时仍然享受他们想要的服务。我们可以选择任何提供商来存储我们的文本，照片和视频 - 或者只是将它们存储在我们自己的Web服务器上 - 并依赖任何第三方服务与它们进行交互，而不管存储位置如何。涉及身份的关键服务可以但不需要由数据存储提供。
This mindset gives rise to the concept of a personal data pod, in which we can store every single piece of information we produce. As shown in the figure below this statement can be taken quite literally: even a seemingly trivial piece of data, such as simple like we gave a certain webpage or thing, can be stored in our own pod. While such a degree of decentralization might seem extreme, recall that even supposedly trivial likes can reveal much deeper personal information , so it makes sense to give people control over them. Furthermore, since we do not depend on anyone’s permission to publish data in our own pod, we can place likes, annotations, and comments on anything we want, without fear of them being censored or deleted.
On a decentralized Web, every piece of data can be stored in a place chosen by its author.
This total data ownership enables highly granular access control: people can selectively give permission to friends or applications to read or write specific parts of their data pod. For instance, they can decide whether or not they make their profile picture and full name public, who can see which of their likes and comments, and what applications can edit their pictures or posts on their behalf. These permissions can be changed or revoked at any time. People can have multiple data pods for different purposes, for instance, a pod for personal and family pictures at home, a pod governed by retention policies for professional data at the workplace, and a university pod with study materials and grades. Upon creation, they can decide which data is stored in which pod.
By choosing the storage location of our own data, we prevent unauthorized access and exploitation. We are no longer obliged to pay with our data in order to access a certain service. Moreover, we can protect the most sensitive parts of our data by keeping them to ourselves, and limit sharing to people and services that really require it—but only for as long as they need it.
通过选择我们自己数据的存储位置，我们可以防止未经授权的访问和利用。我们不再需要使用我们的数据来访问某项服务。此外，我们可以通过自己掌控保护数据中最敏感的部分，并限制与真正需要它的人和服务的共享 - 但只限于他们需要的时间。
When people store their own data, privacy-unfriendly business models centered around data ownership will not be viable anymore. Such an economic change can be accelerated through legislation, like the eu’s General Data Protection Regulation (gdpr), as well as growing awareness among the general population about the dangers of centralization, given recent data scandals at companies such as Equifax and Facebook. Consequently, new business models for applications become necessary.
Decentralization requires the nature of applications to evolve from silos to shared views. As shown in the figure below, current Web apps combine data and service. Because of this coupling, our LinkedIn contacts cannot comment on our Facebook pictures, and an rsvp on a Facebook event will not be reflected in our Doodle calendar’s availability. Decentralized applications, on the other hand, act as views on top of our data pod and those of others. When granted specific access rights, photos uploaded into our data pod by a photo gallery application can be accessed by a social feed app. Events in my personal calendar that have public visibility can show up in the same feed. Our friends can view the parts of our data to which we grant them access through whatever application they wish to use.
Centralized Web applications act as silos that do not share data with each other. Decentralized Web applications act as shared views on top of personal data pods.
Because the choice of data and service provider becomes decoupled, separate markets for data and services emerge. The figure below shows that centralized applications compete in a single market based on data ownership, because usage of a service is coupled with usage of its storage. As such, people cannot easily switch to a better application experience, as migrating their data—if possible—is technically challenging. Furthermore, new applications that could offer a better experience have trouble joining the market, since they do not own sufficient data yet. With decentralized Web applications, people select their storage and service providers separately, which allows an independent competition on the level of storage and on the level of services. On both levels, the competition is solely based on service quality and features versus cost.
This independence means we can freely switch data and service providers, without requiring our friends to choose the same ones. This brings down the walls in between the gardens, because we gain the ability to reuse and move our data, and can interact with anyone in the entire landscape. Data and service providers can evolve without dependency on each other, which enables a faster and more creative innovation cycle. Anyone can enter either market and attract customers by providing a better experience than others, without asking for control of our data.
Centralized applications compete in a single market, based on data ownership. On a decentralized Web, data and service providers compete in different markets.
The Solid project
In order to realize this vision of data ownership and data/service independence, Tim Berners-Lee started the Solid project . Solid consists of specifications for interoperability, implementations of servers, clients, and applications, and a community of people who build new things. In the next sections, we will discuss some of Solid’s unique aspects.
为了实现数据所有权和数据/服务独立性的这一愿景，Tim Berners-Lee启动了Solid项目。 Solid包含互操作性规范，服务器，客户端和应用程序的实现，以及构建新事物的人员社区。在接下来的部分中，我们将讨论Solid的一些独特方面。
The goal of Solid is empowering people through personal data management, as a counterpart to enterprise data management. We can consider a Solid server or data pod as the equivalent of a hard disk for the Web, on which we can store arbitrary documents. Then Solid apps are like our desktop applications, except that they open documents from Solid servers on the Web. In contrast to actual hard disks, Solid servers are typically public to the entire world, so detailed access control settings allow us to specify who can view or edit which of our documents. Tim Berners-Lee has been leading by example, by managing his personal and professional life with Solid for several years already.
Solid的目标是通过个人数据管理赋予人们权力，作为企业数据管理的对应物。我们可以将Solid服务器或数据pod视为Web的硬盘的等价物，我们可以在其上存储任意文档。然后，Solid应用程序就像我们的桌面应用程序，除了它们从Web上的Solid服务器打开文档。与实际硬盘相比，Solid服务器通常对整个世界公开，因此详细的访问控制设置允许我们指定谁可以查看或编辑我们的哪些文档。蒂姆·伯纳斯 - 李（Tim Berners-Lee）一直以身作则，多年来一直通过Solid管理他的个人和职业生涯。
In order for such data management to work at Web scale, data in different pods need to link to each other, similar to how hypertext documents allow us to jump from one website to another. Solid uses Linked Data  to achieve this: every piece of data can link to any other. This is how, for example, a comment in your data pod can be attached to a photo in someone else’s pod, while both of you can remain owners of your data. At runtime, Solid applications integrate data from multiple sources and blend them together into a single experience.
为了使这种数据管理能够在Web规模上工作，不同pod中的数据需要相互链接，类似于超文本文档允许我们从一个网站跳转到另一个网站。 Solid使用Linked Data 来实现这一目标：每个数据都可以链接到任何其他数据。例如，您可以将数据窗格中的评论附加到其他人的窗格中的照片，而您和他们都可以保留数据的所有者。在运行时，Solid应用程序集成来自多个源的数据，并将它们混合在一起形成一个体验。
Solid pods can offer people a decentralized means of identification. People can pick a so-called WebID, which is a Web address that identifies them. This Web address leads to their public profile, and people can log on to any pod with their own WebID, instead of requiring a new login on every website or resorting to a centralized identity provider.
One of the crucial aspects of Solid is that it provides a Read–Write platform, as was Tim Berners-Lee’s original intention for the Web . While writing has always been possible, in the sense that anyone could start their own website, the Web 2.0 and social media revolutions should be credited with making writing considerably easier. This explains part of the success of these platforms, as anyone can now be a content producer at any time, especially through their mobile devices.
Solid的一个重要方面是它提供了一个读写平台，就像Tim Berners-Lee对Web的初衷。虽然写作一直是可能的，但在任何人都可以创建自己的网站的意义上，Web 2.0和社交媒体革命应该归功于使写作变得更加容易。这解释了这些平台成功的部分原因，因为任何人现在都可以成为内容制作人，特别是通过他们的移动设备。
Solid should make authoring content similarly easy, the difference being of course that we would always write to our own data pods instead of to the application through which we create. In doing so, we guarantee that everyone can express themselves without risking censorship. To maximize interoperability, our Linked Data should be stored using Semantic Web technologies , which interweave a piece of data with its meaning. That way, applications can make sense of (parts of) each other’s data, without having to agree upfront exactly what our data should look like. When storing data in our own pods, we need a mechanism to inform others when things have been created or modified—especially if these are comments on their data. This is enabled through Linked Data Notifications , small automated messages similar to email, which different data pods can send to each other. By combining these technologies, Solid aims to realize the Read–Write Linked Data vision , in order to ensure that everyone can participate in the Web of Data.
Solid应该使创作内容同样容易，不同之处当然是我们总是写入我们自己的数据pod而不是我们创建的应用程序。在这样做的过程中，我们保证每个人都可以表达自己，而不会有审查风险。为了最大限度地提高互操作性，我们的关联数据应该使用语义Web技术进行存储，它将一段数据与其含义交织在一起。这样，应用程序可以理解彼此数据的（部分），而不必事先准确地同意我们的数据应该是什么样子。在我们自己的pod中存储数据时，我们需要一种机制来在创建或修改事物时通知其他人 - 特别是如果这些是对其数据的评论。这是通过链接数据通知启用的，类似于电子邮件的小型自动消息，不同的数据包可以相互发送。通过结合这些技术，Solid旨在实现读写关联数据愿景，以确保每个人都可以参与数据网络。
By transforming data ownership and the role of applications in a decentralized ecosystem, Solid is able to disrupt many interactions that happen on the Web. Many processes that currently depend on centralization can be revolutionized in a decentralized way, by cutting out the middlemen that control these processes. This can stimulate innovation in areas that are embracing the current status quo and resisting change.
A first obvious target are social interactions between people. Sharing multimedia with friends, colleagues, and family members without privacy concerns becomes possible through Solid. Other examples include collaborating on various kinds of documents under transparent access control, and organizing meetings and events—again with full data ownership, choice of application and storage, and synchronization between different apps.
第一个明显的目标是人与人之间的社交互动。通过Solid，可以在没有隐私问题的情况下与朋友，同事和家庭成员共享多媒体。其他示例包括在透明访问控制下协作处理各种文档，以及组织会议和事件 - 再次具有完整数据所有权，应用程序和存储的选择以及不同应用程序之间的同步。
Moreover, Solid has the technological potential to disrupt entire industries, such as for instance scholarly publishing. The current scholarly publication process assumes that an author uploads a scientific manuscript to a centralized platform, where a closed group of reviewers evaluates it. After acceptance, the manuscript is published as an article and then becomes accessible to the public, possibly at a fee. This process is rather slow, as the wider scientific community can only read the article at the end—if accepted. It is also non-transparent because valuable artefacts of the process, such as reviews and revisions, remain hidden. Further participation is typically only possible through a reply that has to undergo a similar slow process. A decentralized authoring application such as dokieli  instead allows researchers to self-publish their manuscripts online in their own Solid pod. Their peers can annotate these manuscripts with comments and reviews, which are stored in their own pods, guaranteeing freedom of expression to any researcher who wants to participate. All outcomes of this process are online, and the scientific community can continuously provide feedback, even after publication on the Web.
此外，Solid具有破坏整个行业的技术潜力，例如学术出版。当前的学术出版过程假定作者将科学手稿上传到集中平台，其中一组封闭的评论者对其进行评估。在接受之后，手稿作为文章发布，然后可以向公众开放，可能需要付费。这个过程相当缓慢，因为更广泛的科学界只能在最后阅读该文章 - 如果被接受的话。它也是不透明的，因为过程中有价值的文物，例如评论和修订，仍然是隐藏的。通常只有通过必须经历类似缓慢过程的回复才能进一步参与。像dokieli 这样的分布式创作应用程序允许研究人员在他们自己的Solid pod中在线自行发布他们的手稿。他们的同伴可以通过评论和评论来注释这些手稿，这些评论和评论存储在他们自己的豆荚中，保证任何想要参与的研究人员的言论自由。该过程的所有结果都是在线的，即使在网上发布之后，科学界也可以不断提供反馈。
Re-decentralizing the Web along the lines of the Solid vision can help us tackle Tim Berners-Lee’s three challenges . We can take back control of our personal data by storing data in our own data pods. The spread of misinformation can be halted, because a free choice of applications allows us to influence our news feed—and all information in there can be traced back to its source. Political advertising becomes more transparent, as we can decide which parts of our data we expose to whom; moreover, the separate data and services markets allow us to consider other options that are not based on advertising in the first place. While this does not fully address all aspects of the challenges, data ownership and choice are major factors.
按照Solid愿景重新分散Web可以帮助我们解决Tim Berners-Lee的三个挑战。我们可以通过将数据存储在我们自己的数据窗口中来收回对我们个人数据的控制。错误信息的传播可以停止，因为自由选择的应用程序允许我们影响我们的新闻源 - 并且那里的所有信息都可以追溯到它的来源。政治广告变得更加透明，因为我们可以决定我们向谁公开我们的数据部分;此外，独立的数据和服务市场允许我们考虑其他不基于广告的选项。虽然这并未完全解决所有方面的挑战，但数据所有权和选择是主要因素。
Freedom of course always comes at a cost: what constitutes a victory for personal rights and freedom of speech also facilitates the spread of illegal messages, since decentralized networks make it harder to control what information is exchanged. Legality is of course a tricky matter, as some countries instate laws that prevent their citizens from voicing opinions that would be legal elsewhere. An intriguing case is the increased popularity of the decentralized social network Mastodon in Japan : as Twitter started removing images that were deemed questionable under us norms, Japanese users began publishing them on platforms with less censorship. We will have to accept this trade-off between freedom and control—and in absence of a globally accepted set of norms, centralized filtering of questionable or illegal content can never yield an adequate solution.
当然，自由总是有代价的：个人权利和言论自由的胜利也促进了非法信息的传播，因为分散的网络使得控制交换信息变得更加困难。合法性当然是一个棘手的问题，因为一些国家制定了法律，阻止其公民发表在其他地方合法的意见。一个有趣的案例是分散的社交网络Mastodon在日本越来越受欢迎：随着Twitter开始删除在我们的规范下被认为有问题的图像，日本用户开始在审查较少的平台上发布它们。我们将不得不接受自由与控制之间的这种权衡 - 如果没有全球公认的规范，对可疑或非法内容的集中过滤永远不会产生适当的解决方案。
This brings us to another aspect of decentralization, which is the tension between freedom and universality. The Paradox of Freedom states that we can only be free if we subject ourselves to certain rules. Simply said, we can take our bike and ride anywhere—if only we stay on the right side of the road (which in several countries is actually left). Without such rules, we would not be able to get anywhere without causing accidents. Given that universality has always been a main goal of the Web , decentralized communities can only flourish if they agree on some basic framework on how to decentralize. As with the universality of browsers, there is a major role for the w3c in creating the standards that will allow decentralized data pods and apps to interoperate. Fortunately, we do not have to agree on everything. Linked Data enables layered agreements, in which a few rules are adopted by many, and sets of additional rules are agreed upon by smaller groups as needed.
这使我们进入去中心化的另一个方面，即自由与普遍性之间的紧张关系。自由悖论指出，如果我们遵守某些规则，我们就只能自由。简单地说，我们可以把自行车带到任何地方 - 只要我们留在路的右侧（实际上在几个国家）。如果没有这样的规则，我们将无法在不造成事故的情况下到达任何地方。鉴于普遍性一直是网络的主要目标，分散的社区只有在就如何分散的一些基本框架达成一致时才能蓬勃发展。与浏览器的普遍性一样，w3c在创建允许分散数据窗口和应用程序互操作的标准方面发挥着重要作用。幸运的是，我们不必就所有事情达成一致。关联数据支持分层协议，其中许多规则被许多人采用，并且根据需要由较小的群组商定一组附加规则.
Importantly, the arrows of decentralization and Solid are not aimed at specific companies such as Google, Facebook, or Twitter. Instead, they point at centralization in general, since many of the problems and challenges faced by these companies are inherent to centralization and the business model of data ownership. We have come to the point where companies possess so much data that they themselves are unable to predict the long-term effects that such a centralization might have . Therefore, it is unreasonable to use informed consent as an excuse, since no individual can reasonably understand what giving up control over small or large pieces of their data will eventually lead to. Storing our data in a trusted place of our choice, combined with a granular permission model, is therefore the only safe bet.
Note that none of us are dreaming of a Web without large players. Quite the contrary: Tim Berners-Lee insists that the Web should always remain scale-free , with room for the very large and the very small. The problem is that the very large are currently trying to make the rest obsolete, which endangers the online freedoms we have enjoyed for so many years. As argued above, decentralization is foremost about choice, so people should be free to join large or small communities. And while there are several technical issues ahead of us for decentralized applications, notably guaranteeing a similar user experience as centralized platforms in terms of usability and speed, the first technological proof has been delivered with Solid. Now, it is up to all of us to anchor this technological progress in today’s and tomorrow’s socio-economic reality in order to re-decentralize the Web for good. Only when we succeed in taking back control and choice over our most precious digital assets, we are able to truly say: this is for everyone.
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--Write by Marcustar，关关雎鸠，在河之洲