DevCon talk Supercharging the SAFE Network with Project Solid

This is what making the world a better place looks like. :earth_americas::earth_africa::earth_asia:


Timely article advocating personal data ownership using Project Solid on a decentralised cloud:


Admittedly I’ve had a hard time wrapping my head around the what and the why of SOLID.

I finally found a resource that gets at the heart of the matter when I simply searched semantic web:


2 posts were split to a new topic: Redlands “Enterprise” smart city

SOLID is a recent development around the Semantic Web and I’m still getting up to speed on that one, but for the Semantic Web and Linked Data in general there are a couple good books. The ones I’ve read are maybe a bit too outdated now, but from the ToC this books looks like one of the better one that covers all the pre-SOLID basics quite well. Part III seems to be largely about server-side tech and might not be all that relevant, but I think the rest looks solid.


Mark (@happybeing) & Ian (@CommunityLink) - I’ve moved the posts into a new topic:

I hope this is okay with you both 'cause I agree with Mark that this isn’t the place for that discussion.



Imagine some network like SAFE had it’s API as an ldp/solid API and forced (yes I know) the use of semantic data sharing and privacy in its apps. It would be a jump for devs right now but not a big one I feel. Then we could have the schemas for messaging, chat, docs, videos, research etc. all categorised and searchable. With all the privacy components of SAFE and the accessibility of SOLID, I think there could be a very compelling combination of two projects that have very related goals, but each strengthens the other, I love win-win situations and this one feels like it is heading in that way, well to me at least :wink:

Then we could have many apps using the same schemas, so you don’t like my messenger app, OK switch out the app, but keep your data, this seems sensible and also empowering for users, it takes our message of no need to worry about infrastructure to a new level and takes SOLIDs goals and makes them very accessible to devs and consequently, people.

Just a thought, maybe though one that has brewed for a long time :smiley:


(whispers from behind a corner) dooo iiiiit, dooo iiiiiiit!!!


Eggggssssssackly! :slight_smile:

With regard to the ‘forced’ bit, I don’t think that will be necessary. I believe that devs may end up with little choice for two reasons:

  • Firstly users will prefer apps which allow them this freedom, so devs who don’t do this will find it harder to acquire users on these new platforms.

  • Secondly, by following this path devs will be able to build apps that have much better features and are much more useful.

At the most basic level, an app that uses LinkedData can pull in different data types available in the user’s own storage (produced by other apps) and from public resources.

That can be for discovery/search, analysis, automatic citations/quotations/excepts, analysis/statistics or simple mashing data together from different apps. For example to create a social news feed.

Your social feed pulls in data from friends who share their data with you and vice versa. This can include any data they share, and the data you choose to include in your feed (posts, status, photos etc) in the order you choose with the presentation you prefer.

No more content forced on you for Facebook’s own purposes. No more crawling of your data, except by the individuals or organisations you trust with it, and only on your terms. No more “click here to agree or you won’t be able to use a social network with all the data you uploaded”.

Imagine if the EU were to force Facebook to offer users downloads of their content in LinkedData format. It would be trivial for people to migrate their data to Solid servers or Solid+SAFE and keep their social graph in tact. They can then select a social app they like - more likely many different apps, all capable of displaying timeliness and creating posts with the presentations you like best - and unable to spy or access your data without your permission.

It creates the world we want, and I don’t think there will be any need to force devs to take this route once we have some decent Solid+SAFE apps running which other devs can improve. Facebook on the other hand would be mad to let users export their data in such a portable format, but it might be an attractive way of solving the current problems, so I wouldn’t rule it out once enough people realise the potential. I explained that to a guy on twitter recently who said Facebook were consulting and were open to ideas like this. I’m skeptical though :wink:


If the network exposed an API to make data uniformly shareable, machine-readable, and searchable, what definitions would it agree on, how would would new definitions be composed, and how would the integrity of the definitions be maintained?

Specialised and tightly-controlled semantic schema may be more about addressing these questions and Uncertainty Reasoning for the World Wide Web.

Reading about Gene Ontology project, which is to

provide a uniform way to describe the functions of gene products from organisms across all kingdoms of life and thereby enable analysis of genomic data.

It makes sense that Gene Ontology is overseen by a trusted council which addresses the above questions and also

colloquialisms, community preferences, abbreviations, legacy names, the multiple ways of referring to chemical elements, capitalization, and all the possible variations that occur in natural language.

It seems to make more sense that each domain and associated community like gene research, astronomy, video media, audio media, etc, is more equipped in their specialised knowledge to oversee the structure and maintenance of their data semantics than the whole of the SAFE or other network.

One option is to align with, porting the current structures and definitions over to the network, and being involved with the Community Group

Although I read in this issue of Scientific American a piece of information that gave me the impression that the semantic web could benefit more from disparate schema, however comparable data, where something called inference engines could be used to find the keys that connect disparate schema:

Finding relations among different sources is an important step toward revealing the “meaning” of information.

What this might mean for the network is focusing on providing the essentials for building semantic schema but not committing to any in particular.

The last question I’m thinking about is how to scale the composition of RDFS.
For example, the simple act of a person uploading a video. How is the raw data annotated to conform with RDF? Is the user prompted to add standardised tags?
Seaching around Apache Jena and Stanford’s Protégé to find how they may address this problem.
When uploading videos to YoutTube, one manually enters tags to describe the video, but again, at what layer do we concern ourselves with this tagging? Is concerning itself with video descriptions?


Very interesting questions Hunter. This is an area I haven’t looked into really, so my thoughts are raw and ill informed but I’ll be generous with them as usual anyway :slight_smile:

I’d say that it isn’t for the network to decide details like which ontology for which area (which I think is along the lines you conclude too). For one, how would that be enforced? Another, who are we to say - when there are others who understand those ontologies and the implications of such choices?

So I assume that our role is to provide implementations of protocols on top of SAFEnetwork that can handle the semantic web, such as Solid/LDP, and that it is for developers to decide how they use this.

There is no reason we shouldn’t publish guidance I guess, but I suspect that already exists and that maybe we should just find and reference that.

Similarly, I think there is a role for tools and other resources to help people answer these questions, and I see evidence of these - such as an index of ontologies which can be searched (I think I posted a link to one last year in one of the earlier threads about Solid). So we could help by searching for things like that and building resources to help people coming to this and asking the questions you asked.

Getting into ‘how would a video be tagged?’ etc is for me moving into an application domain, because for different applications and different media types etc, the answers may be different. Good questions, but maybe for another topic. I think this overlaps with JAMS so there’s an opportunity to discuss this with a real use case, and I know @Nigel is interested in whether and how RDF might be useful there.


If SAFE adopts RDF conformity and exposes an associated API, won’t the RDF only become useful once uniform resource definitions are adopted?
I don’t see yet how RDF conformity is decoupled from the resource definitions and how it doesn’t immediately concern the network with the application layer.


I warned you I was ill informed :slight_smile:

I think this is an interesting question. To recap, I’m thinking firstly that we can’t force devs to adopt a particular ontology, and secondly that’s not a bad thing because we can’t ensure that what we specify is optimum, or even adequate for all applications.

Where similar domains are covered by applications using different ontologies I think that’s a problem for the application layer. It can be tackled by the application, and it’s an opportunity for tools that assist in reconciling data encoded using different schemes.

I just read the Wikipedia link you posted, which is excellent BTW, and there it mentions that even within a large ontology there can be a problem with multiple terms for the same thing. It then says that machine learning might be applied to deal with this.

I can’t say much more so this would be a good question to ask on the LinkedData chat or the Solid chat if you fancy exploring it?


When I first heard of the internet in the early 90’s (showing my age now) my initial thought was … fantastic, we’ll all get a space on the internet i.e. our own private vault which I called a Universal Information account (UIA), which can’t be taken away from us, where we own our data (including our genetic makeup) and engage with multiple interchangable tools/services!! Of course we all know it went the exactly the opposite way hence this very discussion! Project CommunityLink Open data ecology (CODE) Lighthouse project and the Redland “Enterprise” smart city (Mutual Asset Pool/MAP) proposal introduced are designed around this fundamental premise of personal data ownership and the premise/view that only “we can hold the keys to our data” via our UIA.

So from a personal and community perspective I am very excited to see David’s and Marks comments re

  • with the use of semantic data sharing and privacy in its apps all categorised and searchable, so you don’t like my messenger app, OK switch out the app, but keep your data empowering for users and taking our message of no need to worry about infrastructure to a new level. A win win win for safe, solid and citizens
  • No more content forced on you for Facebook’s own purposes. No more crawling of your data, except by the individuals or organisations you trust with it, and only on your terms. No more “click here to agree or you won’t be able to use a social network with all the data you uploaded”.
  • This solid safe app "that uses LinkedData can pull in different data types available in the user’s own storage (produced by other apps) and from public resources (is a dominant design as Facebook was)
  • It creates the world we want, and I don’t think there will be any need to force devs to take this route once we have some decent Solid+SAFE apps running which other devs can improve. So devs who don’t do this will find it harder to acquire users on these new platforms.

which to me describes what a Universal Information account (should do) does!!

One of the challenges in creating new knowledge around the Linked data and personal data ownership concepts and learning from each other as we are doing now is that there are many new words, multiple concepts and ways to say the same thing. We need some simple language/terms which encapulsate the Linked data and personal data concepts and which give a very simple picture of the outcomes. Having a clear picture of the “data” outcome makes it a lot easier to get there.

I’m wondering if introducing the term Universal Information Account into the lexicon helps to simplify and assist discussion forward by providing a “common generic/genomic label/term” (based on universal principles) which encapsulate the above “data” concepts/arguments etc.

It provides a easily understandable label for us i. as citizens and end consumers to access/understand the argument/service to make an informed decision ii. as advocates working to deliver this capability. This could be one of the “colloquialisms, community preferences, abbreviations, legacy names” referred to in the excellent Hunter Lester Gene Ontology post.


I think it’s important not to enforce too many standards and definition from the get-go as they’ll invariably end up having issues and need time to evolve, or they’ll end up working for some use-cases, but not others, at least for things like ontologies. Making something like into THE standard would means getting stuck with its limitations.

If two data sets about genes are published using separate ontologies, a third-party could link these together to make it feasible to query the data as if they used the same ontology and then if there turned out to be issues with how the data was linked, another way of linking the data/ontologies could be published by someone else.


Tim gave a lecture yesterday at MIT calling for people to get together and re-decentralise the Web.

Short summary here:


Such an endeavor would entail bringing together “the brightest minds from business, technology, government, civil society, the arts, and academia” to establish a system “in which people have complete control of their own data; applications and data are separated from each other; and a user’s choice for each are separate.”

The overarching goal? “To build a new web which will again empower science and democracy.”

“Let’s re-de-centralize the web,” Berners-Lee declared. “It was designed as a de-centralized system, but now everyone is on platforms like Facebook,” he added, detailing how social media can be polarizing to a degree that it threatens democracy.


IMO the ability for people to have complete control of their data will never be achievable if we have to connect our data thru proprietal hubs as they will retain ownership of the data and try to extract as much as they can from this position of control/power. So we need something that is the complete opposite to the current system. One that is free of the corporate capitalism middle man extraction model designed to “maximise their exchange margin”.

So we need (the missing link IMO) an open data system model/design/method which can interlink (communitylink/CL) proprietal data for the common good. This model must provide citizens, communities and industries a structured approach to enable members to establish trusted commercially neutral ODE (solid/safe) hubs which connect proprietal data within and through the open data ecology (ODE) network with user established governance.

These Community Interlinks/exchanges must be Non-profits (mutuals) whose sole objective is to maximise the linkages (on behalf of members), minimise the cost of exchange and pass the ODE CL or public infrastructure surplus to members via an CL trading algorithm (remutualisation). An additional benefit of the ability to interlink through Open data hubs which are not extractive is that it will enable us to create “closed loop automation product solutions” (Codemaps) across multiple rightholders/stakeholders creating mutual asset pools and efficiency benefits (not currently possible) within the decentralised autonomous network (safe). This appears to be a natural extension of theOpen Data Institute initiative also established by Tim Berners Lee established with Nigel Shadbolt and the “Who should hold the keys to our data article” you posted.

As I see it by signing up for the UIA account (as per the safeplume demo using solid & safe) within the solid/safe hub enabled Open data network system you can support the network as a farmer, you get control of your data and as an Account owner (your private space on the net that you own and control) you become as a Universal basic equity (UBE) rightholder (identity token) to share in the profits created by the system and from permission based access to your data. People will be able to establish their own “closed loop networks of trust and join closed loop solutions such as the local community hub which is and (ODE). This will also enable you to connect to other “products” (close loops/mutuals) sharing in the “profits of the system” e.g. for your health and financial products. So in theory a better product at a better price with profit share. The Who holds the keys article concludes with “Unlike those blue hyperlinks, this is a step forward that will only happen with state intervention”. Again IMO we can’t rely on state intervention and that this can be a consumer and community driven change.

So our collective endeavour needs to be able to place some ODE interlinks between some proprietal data. This is all well and nice in theory. To start we need a Closed loop product/prototype which builds on safeplume (the endeavour to bring the our minds together), the tools (a proposed set of ODE CL Codemap conventions and tools build around solid & safe) and context (ODE CL model, business case e.g. smart city & Investment case)

So where do we start?
IMO progressing the safeplume demo is the strategic and systemic path of greatest leverage for both the Solid and Safe vision and path to market so i. it needs to be funded and ii. built in an open data model context described above, with a Codeamp product/prototype, the tools, context. So how do we fund this? Who would have the greatest interest/benefit in making an contribution and support our transition to the new open data ecology and circular economy/democracy vision as per Tim’s dream?

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I agree with this. Unfortunately I don’t understand much of the rest of your post. I googled ‘open data ecology’ and it came up blank. Likewise with ‘codemap’ and ‘closed loop automation product solutions’. Could you write a tl;dr version?

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Tx for your comment. I have just added a response/comment in the Redlands “Enterprise” smart city related project which might assist. It provides an intro to the Codemap closed loop etc terminology in context of a practical commercial path forward for Marks safeplume innovation. Happy to write a tl:dr version. Can you explain what that is?:blush:

I’ll bite…

tl;dr too long; didn’t read