A popularization article on the Solid project

Hi there!
Still in the process of connecting the Solid ecosystem and ActivityPub more, I share with you a popularization article on the solid project and its stakes that I co-wrote with Phillipe Honigman => https://startinblox.com/blog/index.php/2020/11/20/a-solid-future/

What do you think about it?
Feel free to share this article and/or react !

The subject of decentralization of the web is eminently political and it is important that as many people as possible can understand the issues it raises.


I am thinking that I invited SOLID to about 10 ActivityPub Events.
But they never came.
There seems to be very little interest.
We tried to change this.

I gave up.

I spent a ton of time on Sollid + ActivityPub advocacy on the Solid Forum, and also about some - in my opinion - great weaknesses in their overall approach, and (via @cwebber) on problematic technical directions (ACL’s).

Now I can confidently say that Solid Project has ZERO interest in community-building and outreach to FOSS world, atm. This may not be intentional, but a culture thing and also stemming from their overly commercial focus (via Inrupt et al). Who knows.

There are some very fine people in the community though, and they are open-minded to cooperations (some expirements already done). Really love what you are doing with Startinblox, @Alice, and hope that more Solid vs. AP/Fedi alignment will come from the ground. My primary focus is on fedi now, as time is but scarce and precious :slight_smile:

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They knew my hate of ACL and certificates from the very beginning :slight_smile:

I wish all the old white men at Inrupt all the best.

Super cool to have made these efforts towards the Solid community! We support ActivityPub at 200% and we’re going to take more care to federate our ecosystems!
For Startin’blox and the Virtual Assembly, ActivityPub is a part of Solid and we promote it in France. We will be present at the next opportunities for our ecosystems to meet :slight_smile:

And I’m not very aware, what’s the problem with ACLs?

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Indeed super cool to hear that such alignment is taking place, Alice! The problem with ACL’s described in Solid, ACL’s, and the Future and the topic it references. For the nitty-gritty details @cwebber is the true authority to consult.

What an exciting topic! Thanks for sharing!!

Hey @Alice! thanks very kindly for reaching out. Sorry it took me so long to reply.

I’m glad to hear interest from the SOLID project in bridging our worlds. In fact, they are already quite close to bridged; one of the successes of the standardization project in the Social Web Working Group was the convergence of SOLID and ActivityPub through Sarven Capadisli and @rhiaro’s LInked Data Notifications spec. Already, both LDN and AP use the same inbox and delivery mechanism! And LDN was, iirc, built for SOLID. So I think the overlap area there is clear and intentional.

The differences then come partly in terms of knowledge representation: the SOLID project prefers graphs, the AP community prefers trees. In theory JSON-LD handles both, but in doing so, each side seems to want their view of the world to be the “real” one, and I think that’s lead to some strife in the past. But I am optimistic in the way that @pukkamustard’s Open Engiadina project seems to take bridging the worlds of linked data and activitypub seriously, something we haven’t seen as much out of the other larger prominent AP implementations.

@aschrijver does represent my concerns correctly about ACLs vs ocaps; see the following for more background:

  • Hygiene for a Computing Pandemic gives an intro to why a push for ocaps
  • OcapPub lays out at a high level where we plan to go (but is incomplete in some of the details towards the end)
  • Spritely is my active project to “level up the fediverse” by implementing said ideas.

I think @aschrijver and @Sebastian both remarked feeling a bit burnt out on efforts to bridge the SOLID and AP communities; I’ve felt this way myself a bit in the past. However I know Sarven is interested and an active developer, and your own message here @Alice is very nice, and I’ve also had plenty of nice conversations with Dmitri, who I know supports it.

There’s interest on this side. When the SOLID folks want to work on interop with AP, we are here to talk. What I don’t have energy is convincing the SOLID team that AP is a worthwhile direction. However, I know that SOLID community members such as Sarven think it’s a worthwhile direction. What I don’t know is: what about the rest of the SOLID community? AFAICT in past discussions, it’s been somewhere between a split and lukewarm from the community at large… and the community has to be the one to decide to join us in bridging worlds. If that’s changed or changing, great! (And the most likely way it’s going to change is if TimBL himself says: “we should have interop with the activitypub community”. AFAICT, I haven’t heard that? But anyway.) I do think it’s also critical that we take a unified task on moving away from ACLs, though that’s kind of a sub-conversation.

But as said, happy to talk. Thank you for reaching out!

Hey, hey :slightly_smiling_face: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fy5eKqM8-OA

github .com/solid/community-server/

It’s not a lack of interest—a lack of time. Hands full.
It’s definitely on the agenda.

I don’t think there’s any need for that. We all know how much tech is in need of diversity—on this forum, on ours, on all others. Instead of throwing rocks, let’s all inspire each other on how to improve. I’m talking about diversity here: youtube .com/watch?t=856&v=2BHV1p2QzNw

And those concerns have been heard! Check forum.solidproject.org/t/access-control-policies-acp-and-web-access-control-wac/3616


I don’t think there’s any need for that.

Yes, exactly.
Other communities like Mozilla or indieweb already wrote much about it – no need for duplicates.

Instead of throwing rocks, let’s all inspire each other on how to improve.

Yes, exactly.
It was the reason why I invited SOLID to a watertower 70km away from you.
Had rent rooms, appartments and a cinema initially.
No problem cause when Chris and /me met you at FOSDEM afterwards, I said, maybe Chris and me can have a coffee at Ghent. Then you said Boston is better.
It gave me a very good impression and trust.
A year passed but then the pandemic came, so no problem.

Then we had a huge conference in Prag.
Then we did Offdem in Brussels. btw: got a car, can catch you up.
Then we did the remote 2020 conference.

Also there is a W3C Social CG.
“continue and extend the development of vocabularies, formats and protocols to support the distributed / federated social web, as well as related technologies”

Unfortunately you did your own 5 people group -
my browser search seems to break there, I searched for all the social W3C recommendations there, like ActivityPub, webmention, Micropub. Need to fix search probably.

My dream lives on:
To use SOLID as a generic server for the Open Protocol, I felt in love with.

Now that I organized rC3 ActivityPub assembly, the next meeting is on Saturday.
See you there?

Just an info:
There is a W3C recommended protocol thing for youtube.
It is called peertube. We are on conf.tube …

More writings by old white men, you say? https://indieweb.org/wiki/index.php?title=Inrupt&action=history
Boy, are we over-represented.

Let’s change this silly game of finger-pointing into extending an open hand to those we claim to be building the technology for.

I’d be envious of the time you can dedicate to technical meetings, if only I hadn’t used mine to secure the budget and execution plan to ensure 6 million people will have their own personal data vault.

Let’s stop the ridiculous infighting. We have the same goals, just different approaches. And time is limited—we each only have 24 hours a day to spend on what we believe maximizes impact. That’s not a disbelief in others, just a necessity of priorities.

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There are many times where I’ve been approached by someone with an issue that I didn’t have time to look at, or didn’t realize was important before. I’ve been glad when they’ve left open the opportunity for me to talk later when I did realize it was valuable. (You’ve seen all the talk I’ve done about ocaps, and this is such a case: I was originally dismissive of them the first I encountered them.)

This will happen a lot also because most of us doing the hard work are very time constrained… we can’t make time for everything.

So if we have an opportunity to collaborate now, I think missed opportunities in the past need not define future interactions. :slight_smile:


All I want, Ruben, is that you attend the next SocialCG.
I thought being a rude boy would maybe trigger you to bring your wide open smile to our cameras !

We draw a line here

and on Saturday we draw a boat.

And then you come to the “Generic server, diverse clients meeting”.
Could that be a solution ?

and if your kids need you, I would understand very well.

Then we wait for our vaccine and you tell me anytime when coffee is ready in Ghent and I come by.
I like Ghent :slight_smile:

:heart: That’s the spirit. Looking forward to it, @cwebber.

Understood, but:

  • 120% of my working hours is being an academic
  • 80% is working on Solid
  • weekends are for my kids

Taking up commitments that I can’t follow up on, is worse than not taking them up at all. As @cwebber said, when the time is right.

At the moment, my belief is that talking about technology is not how I can best serve those that I aim to reach. They don’t care about Solid or ActivityPub—they want a better tech experience. So my time now goes to societal and economical problems much more than to tech. That’s just the way it is.

They do. See you in Ghent, in a better world. Fingers crossed.



Very happy to hear that. OT for SocialHub: imho - though quite time-consuming - community-building when done right, can yield a lot to the Solid project in terms of adoption and feedback, and also finding contributors that may even alleviate some of your workload. My feeling was - with a well-funded Inrupt in the drivers seat - the choice to give attention to the community is one of resources and strategy. But I have zero insight in internal decision-making in this regard, of course :slight_smile: In all of this I acted as a FOSS advocate, communicator and product owner role, providing free, unelicited advice.

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:100: Same for me. I did some experiments with activity pub on solid and it looks promising. Also exported my twitter archive to activty streams. I am focussing on the core SolidOS right now, where I built an activitystreams-pane for, but there are too many other crucial parts that need attention.

If someone wants to support with that, let me know.


It is not even that I am criticising anybody personal.
Want to come to my point:

I am criticising structures, particulary funding structures, particulary in the EU.
And the OpenSource Ecosystem.

Try to find the whole piece of this study …
A study by the United Nations (also talked to Michael Downey) shows [key findings]:

An OpenSource project in the described context (my assumption: same for Fediverse) is only successful if
• it has at least 5 diverse people apart from chairs
• where at least 3 are doing the code

Which would just mean, we would need 3 equally treated and funded Rubens !
My personal demand is to do this by taxes.
We pay the whole road system for Autobahn. Interoperability, Interconnection, Portability, Safety, anything !!! (!)
How about the digital Autobahn ??? (?)

If not, we need to shift money from the Horizon billions.
Shift some of the cents to nlnet.nl NGI programmes, just some cents for funding
• more Open Protocol work
• bringing people together and community management
• safety for black people in the fediverse
• breathe

That’s it. Basically.

So, maybe YOU could be the one to work with the ActivityPub Community on “generic servers and diverse clients”, see about next meeting in the waitlist for the next …