Three Shifts To Decentralise The Web

Excellent article for users and developers. Shows how the Web is centralised and why decentralisation will improve it.

The author Ruben Verborgh explains how centralised applications such as Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn are wedded to the data they gather from users, who lose control of it along with their privacy and security. He then shows how this can be done in a decentralised way, where users are data owners, and a healthier market develops where application competes with application on features and usefulness, instead of by fighting to archieve monopoly control of data to block competition and stifle innovation.

I particularly like the way he breaks the changes necessary to decentralise into three areas (‘paradigm shifts’) because this shows that the benefits from each are important and yet achievable, by showing users and developers how it will work.

So anyone thinking about decentralised apps would learn important insights from this - it’s helped me to improve understanding of what I’m trying to and highlighted how we could do some of the things I hadn’t even tried to figure out yet :slight_smile:.

Well worth a read!

Decentralization as the way forward

Each of the above paradigm shifts show that decentralizing the Web is about reorganizing power. First, people gain the power to control their own data and privacy. Second, new applications and data solutions gain competitive power through the resulting decoupling of apps and data. Third, the expressive power of applications improves by depending on transferable queries instead of low-level interfaces.

What I describe in this blog post is slowly but steadily happening, and was in fact inspired by prototypes that currently exist. The decentralized editor dokieli and its annotation functionalities convincingly demonstrate that every atomic piece of data can be stored in a different place. Spending the summer at MIT’s Decentralized Information Group revealed the possibilities of simple server-side data stores such as Solid for advanced client-side applications. It’s there that I saw for the first time how data can drive everything seamlessly—while apps become simple views. Mashlib proves how everyday needs can be addressed with small applications, since these can tap into existing data instead of needing to duplicate input functionality to ask for basic details over and over. Finally, our work on Linked Data Fragments—and its Solid plugin—aims to grow decentralized querying to a Web scale.


Haven’t read yet, any mention of Maidsafe? I just set up a verge account to comment to the author on another article about The SAFE Network to bring it to his attention as he was very much describing the same thing.

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No mention of SAFEnetwork, but he’s been working with Sir Tim recently and will know about SAFEnetwork through my chats I think. I’ve sent him a link to this topic.


Great article, thank you Mark. It really appeals for a Solid <-> Safe dating.

The procedure becomes “send query—act on each incoming result”, processing every piece of incoming data a streaming way. In general, completeness should never be assumed

This particular sentence makes a lot of sense for us too.


I really liked this article about designing apps for the decentralized web. It talks about how when users own their data, there’s a decoupling of apps and data, and apps become views of user data. Apps become interchangable interfaces to the data, and the way apps declare data dependencies will change, because you’re working with a shared data silo instead of a custom backend. The author says it better than I can.

The article talks about the convergence of silo web APIs and not data modeling, but the article got me thinking about shared models. Has there been much discussion in the SAFE community about shared data models between apps? It seems like apps willing to participate in a shared set of data models would have an advantage in that apps could add functionality more easily by providing views into data that may have been generated by another app. There could even be open source packages for the purpose of interacting with various common data structures.

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Hmhmm this could be @happybeing s discipline with the solid apps :face_with_monocle:

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