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Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

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Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, is currently working on such a VMS platform developed in collaboration with MIT, called Solid (Social Linked Data). Solid personal online data stores (PODs) can be described as your 'secure USB sticks for the web'. There is a focus on personal data ownership and the benefits of structured data for interoperability among third-party applications – instead of giving your data to corporations and having the data siloed with them, third-party applications integrate your POD into their system, while only you can control what others can see.

A related system is being developed by Urbit, a movement seeded in San Francisco seeking to build a decentralised peer-to-peer network of personal servers. Their core tenets revolve around identity management and peer-to-peer federated networking forming an alternative internetting infrastructure. One of their stated goals is 'to leave behind a world of apps and services for one where we can bring everything together in one place. And, in doing so, ordinary users can create customised digital environments for their friends and communities'. Likewise, they are building their own interfaces and system architectures for the decentralised web.

Solid and Urbit are projects paving the way for how the next internet and computing paradigms are shifting from a client-server model to a wholly end-to-end, peer-to-peer, networking model. Through identity management and secure data storage, one can connect his or her owned ‘personal server’ or ‘private POD’ into digital ecosystems to engage with applications privately and with permission, only as deeply as necessary to achieve the desired results, and not further.

Unitychain is also building a VMS to help users navigate this encroaching safe, dark, encrypted Internet. Imagine a server you control which exists redundantly and securely on multiple cloud infrastructures, which only takes a few minutes to set up, automatically encrypts all your personal data, intuitively lets you manage your Verifiable Credentials and is designed to help you easily generate and exchange Zero-Knowledge Proofs with others within your web of trust and beyond.

With emerging VMS designs like this, you can choose a network you would like to provide your compute and storage resources to and receive full analytics on your node’s performance and contributions, and you also can visually manage your earned and owned digital assets. The mock-ups below illustrate what such a platform would allow users to do and what it would look like to use.

  • Manage your node analytics: Choose a network you would like to dedicate your compute and storage resources towards and see your node’s analytics and performance earnings.
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  • Manage your digital assets: Securely access multiple wallets with user-friendly interfaces to manage your contacts.
screenshot platform

  • Manage your personal data: Securely access and share personal data across multiple third-party applications.