We – a dozen of members of the self-reliant movement – went into this project not really knowing what it was about. What is data? What impact does its subtle and endless collection have on my life? Do I, the citizen, the person who is trying to build enterprise through connecting, relying, and saving with others, really have anything to contribute? Who is listening to us? Are you?

For some of us, this discussion seemed too big. It felt beyond our capabilities. How can a group of ordinary people, of “unexpected entrepreneurs” – with no background in data collection or management and virtually no technical knowledge – come up with a device that will revolutionise the purpose of data collection by bringing back meaning and control to the user?

Then we learnt about the creator of the WWW, Tim Berners Lee. (The world benefits from pioneers’ work but seldom remembers their names!) He has given us the validation that our work is meaningful. He and his team at MIT have been working on that very idea.

Their project, Solid, aims to give control back to the individuals whose data is collected. The internet in the hands of citizens, you and I included, not of a few tech giants.

Knowing that we are walking in the footsteps of the internet pioneers has given us the confidence that our voice matters, as a group and as individuals.

And maybe there’s a lesson there. Maybe there is no such thing as an inverse relationship between voice and “ordinary people”. No one should ever feel like their opinions get lost among a sea of experts, of people who get their knowledge through mainstream contexts like universities. Each of us has a story to share, an experience to bring to the table, something of value that can disrupt how things have always been done. Because that’s how innovation happens. In unexpected ways.

Our project has reached another dimension. This isn’t only about us as individuals or even as a movement of self-reliant groups. This is a discussion happening globally.

We are innovators, we are disruptors, we are revolutionaries, we are pioneers, and we matter.

Lyse from SRG Outside the Box

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