Interest in decentralizing social media has been growing thanks to Jack Dorsey’s announcement of Bluesky,
a small independent team of up to five open source architects, engineers, and designers to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media. After the initial announcement, Dorsey tweeted that the Bluesky team
will have charge to choose whatever is best, be that what exists today or start from scratch. That could bode well for the Tim Berners-Lee led Solid project, which has been working for several years to create a decentralized social network that relies on existing W3C standards and protocols.
The public hasn’t seen much of how Solid might look. The majority of its progress has been on the technical side. Solid’s default frontend has been challenging to understand and use for non-technical users. However, thanks to Angelo Veltens, a developer in Germany that makes software that integrates with Solid, the public has an example of what a decentralized social media presence might look like.
Veltens recently shared in the Solid Community Forum a homepage design he’s been working on that provides a modern layout for Solid-based data.
The Solid standard makes it possible to create a WebID that is similar to a social network profile. The difference is that the profile is owned and controlled by the user, and isn’t part of a proprietary commercial social network. The user also has full control of who they’re connected to, and the data that each user can access.
Solid supports virtually any data format. Veltens is sharing articles, bookmarks, and talks. With Solid, it’s possible to create an app that can include these data types into a single feed that’s similar to how Twitter and Facebook work today.
Improving UX is a crucial step for Solid to become widely adopted. It’s encouraging to finally have a glimpse of how the data can be visualized for general use. However, Solid is still being actively developed and won’t be a viable alternative to commercial social networks until it becomes easy to install, host, manage and has great social apps.