Pods and the Decentralization of our Social Network
For those who’ve heard about the efforts to decentralize the Internet or Inrupt or Solid or watched HBO’s Silicon Valley, you’ve probably heard buzzwords like the “next big thing” or “the next disrupter.” If it doesn’t make a lot of sense, maybe I can help you understand why decentralization is significant.
Rather than keeping your data in server farms owned by Facebook, Amazon, Google and Dropbox, all your data is stored in a pod and you get to say where your pod is stored and who gets to see what.
What’s a Pod?
Think of a pod as your own personal/portable electronic storage unit that sits on the Internet that NO ONE controls but you.
The perfect analogy is actually PODS. They drop off a container and you put whatever you want in it. You decide where to put the PODS container. Whether you keep it at your home, office or at the PODS facility, its your container and your stuff.
You can keep your pod on your own computer today and tomorrow move it to a free pod storage service on the Internet. Don’t worry, they can’t see any of your data stored in your pod.
Next week, you might find an even better pod storage service. No problem, move your pod with a few clicks. It’s your pod.
What’s Stored In My Pod?
Everything: name; address; birthdate; SSN; your health records from birth to death; your photos; your grades; your diplomas; your certifications; your active resume; movies you own; and, music you’ve purchased.
With the right app, your pod can be your bank. Not access to your brick and mortar bank with online banking, your actual money assets could be stored inside your pod.
Your GPS info can be stored in your pod out of Google’s data-mining reach.
Can I Lose My Pod?
No. Pod systems will be designed so it is impossible to lose your pod. For example, can you lose your phone number? Too many friends and family know your phone number, which makes it literally impossible to lose it. If you can’t find your pod, it will find you.
Your pod can also be backed up using revision history so you can roll your pod back in time to a previous version if you ever need to.
What about when you die? An app could be install that has the ability to will your pod to someone once your death has been authenticated. That authentication could be by pre-selecting 10 of your closest family and friends and giving them permission to signal your pod that you’ve died. Once your pod hears reaches a pre-determined threshold of signals that you have died, your pod would be transferred. And of course you’d be able to determine what data in your pod goes with you to your grave and gets deleted from your pod before it’s willed.
Is My Pod Secure?
- Let’s turn to algebra for a simplistic understanding:
- X = DATA * B * C
X is what gets stored in your pod and it doesn’t resemble DATA at all.
The only way you can decipher X to get DATA is by knowing both B and C. And just looking at X you have no clue if it’s a photo, an email, or an mp3. That makes guessing extremely difficult.
If a hacker gets into your pod and steals an X, she can’t guess or brute-force crack DATA. It’s computationally impossible for the same reason guessing doesn’t work in algebra:
- X = 3
If B = 3 and C = 1 then DATA = 1
If B = 4 and C = .25 then DATA = 3
If B = -5 and C = 3 then DATA = -.2
If B = 9 and C = 1 then DATA = .333
Which DATA is right? They all seem valid. This is how pods are being designed to be impossible to crack.
Real World Pod Example
Right now, Facebook uses a massive server farm which stores every post, pic and vid you submit. Once you post it, you’ve given it to Facebook to basically own. Facebook allows you to decide which of their users are your friends and can see the content you post.
But the only way to see those pics and posts and videos is by using Facebook.
What if we all had pods and used FacePod, an imaginary app that does what Facebook does.
You install the FacePod app and it attaches to your social connector on the outside of your pod. You’ve already told your social connector what social apps get to know: your identity; address; and, you might even share an identifier which proves you are a real person and not an alias/fake person.
To “friend” someone means you create a connection between your social connector and theirs. You post something and they see it. Same as now.
But under the hood, something incredible is taking place. When you post, you are actually posting to your own pod NOT to some massive server farm in the cloud. The post is yours, you own it, you store it. Your FacePod app sends a notification that there is a new post on your pod. Your friend sees the post.
Now, only you know how many likes you have on a post or pic. Why? Because that’s stored in your own pod. You can choose to let your friends see, but FacePod can’t track that unless you let them. Without that info, they can’t use your likes and posts to drive ads to your eyeballs.
What about InstaPod?
Your friend doesn’t have to run the same social app as you. Maybe they are running the InstaPod app and only see your pics. Maybe they use YouPod and just see your posted videos.
And if they like one of your pics from their InstaPod app, that like STILL comes back and increases your likes on that pic regardless of the app you used.
Remember when Google+ came out? Most of us tried it out and there were some cool features. But what we didn’t have inside Google were our Facebook friends nor did we have our entire timeline of posts and pics from the previous years. We had to double post everything on each platform while we were evaluating Google+.
With pods, the data is yours. If you like Pod+ better than FacePod then use Pod+. Your friends are still connected and they get to see your posts, pics and pods using whatever app they have on their end.
If Pod+ comes along and you like their features more, you simply install Pod+ and ALL of your posts and pics and videos are still there. WHY? Because those posts are stored in your pod, not a server farm controlled by some data mining company on the Internet.
Do I Need a Pod? Sure!
It may be two years from now, but at some point you will be in a conversation with friends and they will be discussing pods and the decentralized Internet. Wouldn’t it be worth two minutes now so that during that conversation you can say, “I’ve had my pod since 2018.”
For now, the only reason for you to have a pod is so you can say you have a pod.
Pods are available now, for free, and takes no time to create: https://solid.community/
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