The Gist

  • Revolutionizing data ownership. Solid Project aims to transform how we think about data ownership by giving users control over their personal data through secure personal pods.
  • Flexible pod options. Users can set up a pod by either using a third-party provider or self-hosting their own pod using open-source or commercial servers.
  • Innovative community. Solid technology offers a range of use cases and is backed by a community eager to share insights and progress in the field, with regular events hosted by the Solid team.

Have you heard of the Solid project? It's a venture led by Sir Tim-Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The aim of the Solid Project is to transform how we think about data ownership.

Solid (a name derived from "social linked data") is built on a number of technologies, including linked data, which allows different applications to work with the same data, the Resource Description Framework (RDF) and the Web Access Control (WAC) specification.

What Are Solid Pods?

Solid works by giving users a personal pod, a secure place (i.e., server) to store and manage data like name and address, credit card numbers, contacts, photos, videos and much more. 

With a pod, you have complete control over who you share data with, including individuals, organizations and platforms. You can allow access to as much or as little data as you want and have the ability to revoke that access at any time.

Related Article: What Is Solid Project? A Detailed Exploration

How to Get a Solid Pod

If you want to take control of your data, a Solid pod might fit your needs. There are two ways you can set up a pod.

1. Use a Pod Provider

The quickest option is to use a third-party provider that is responsible for hosting the data. A list of pod providers is available on the Solid project website, with options hosted in the US and abroad.

You do not have to stay with the first provider you select. Due to Solid's decentralized nature, you have the ability to take your data to another provider (or host your own pod).

The project's website offers a few tips to consider before choosing a provider:

  • Find out who's involved. Some providers may engage with other third parties to host data. Determine each entity involved. 
  • Find out the location. What's the geographical location of all the entities involved? Where is the data physically stored?
  • Read through the terms. Always read a provider's terms and conditions to fully understand the contract and what you can expect. 

When you get a pod, you'll get a unique WebID, which acts as your identity within the Solid community. If you want to share data in your pod with someone, you would need their WebID to do so.

2. Host Your Own Pod

If you want to be a true data owner — eradicating any third party — you might want to self-host your pod (i.e., run your Solid pod server).

To host a pod, you'll first have to choose between an open-source server (free) or a commercial server (paid). Solid users can choose between six different server options, and the website offers step-by-step instructions on how to install the open-source Community or Node Solid server.

Once you have a Solid server, you can register for a Pod and a WebID. To do this, you will need to:

  1. Access your server: Type http://localhost:3000 into your browser to access a welcome page.
  2. Create your account: Select "sign up for an account" — or visit http://localhost:3000/idp/register/ — to get a new pod and WebID.

How to Start Using Your Solid Pod

Now that you have your pod set up, it's time to start using it.

Learning Opportunities

The Solid community is a great jumping-off point for those who want to learn more about what to do with Solid. Other users share how they use the technology across a broad range of applications.

Some notable use cases include:

  • A personal media tracker with a user interface akin to Netflix
  • A client-side editor for article publishing, annotations and social interactions
  • An identity and credentials document generator
  • An app to form social groups and stay up to date with friends
  • A weather service API that pulls weather data from the United States
  • An online calendar and meeting scheduling tool

Conference showing how web applications work today with Solid.

The Solid project website also offers a handy guide on building your first Solid app.

Before you start, you will need to have your pod and WebID set up. You will also need to install npm, which you can do at the Getnpm! webpage. The guide then walks you through the four-step process to create your application.

Related Article: Data Governance for Dummies

Solid Pods Provide Options for Data Ownership

True data ownership isn't impossible, just inconvenient. Solid pods are one option available to those who want to take back control and hold the key to their data stores. The technology is backed by a man with a track record in digital innovation (Sir Tim Berners-Lee) and offers up an active community eager to share relevant insights and progress.

The Solid team typically hosts a mixture of online and in-person events throughout the year, including Solid World and Solid Symposium 2023. These meet-ups are an excellent way to stay on top of the latest updates in Solid technology and learn more about how other people use Solid technology.

You also can check CMSWire's events calendar to see all upcoming events in the digital customer experience realm.