Epi is founded and led by three seasoned technologists and software engineers.
We are strongly motivated self-starters, with a relentless desire to improve on the status quo. We have developed on a huge range of platforms and architectures between us. We have contributed to many high-profile open-source and commercial engineering projects in our respective fields. And we have all experienced the problems that we're solving at Epi first-hand, while working in industry.
Alex leads Epi and stewards the Epiarc.
In industry, Alex has led product, software and design in senior roles. Notable work includes the overhaul of the design and architecture of a leading investment banking CRM and research distribution platform, and introducing a pioneering research engagement product. With customers, colleagues and stakeholders, Alex has worked in the art of getting to the core of the complex problems, and working productively together to solve these problems.
In academia, he was awarded the Richard Newitt Prize at the University of Southampton for the strongest capability of demonstrable effect in the field of web technology. At the University of Surrey, he was recipient of the Fivium Prize and British Government Department of Energy & Climate Change Prize, and he was the Valedictorian (Dux) for the highest ranking performance in the BSc Computer Science programme.
Dan heads up technology at Epi and the Epiarc.
In industry, Dan has held a range of engineering and lead developer roles, consulting on large e-commerce and information security projects for major companies in the telecoms and publishing sectors. He has successfully applied cutting-edge blockchain technologies in verticals like healthcare and identity management. Dan excels at understanding both the big picture and the fine details of even the largest technology stacks in industry, allowing him to pinpoint problems accurately.
In academia, Dan received the British Science Association's Gold CREST Award for his work on an engineering project for the Royal Navy. At the University of Surrey, Dan created an admin communication and management console for Valve's Source game server, which featured mobile and IRC frontends.
Chris leads science and research efforts for Epi and the Epiarc.
In industry, Chris has led software teams and held a range of engineering roles, in small companies through to large enterprises. Wherever he's worked, Chris has always been drawn to 'the problem behind the problem' - finding the underlying problems which are slowing a software team down, which the rest of the team haven't noticed.
In academia, Chris has been awarded scholarships at the University of Surrey and the University of Bath. His EPSRC-funded undergraduate project was a groundbreaking interdisciplinary collaboration with the arts, which was presented at the 2013 Corporeal Computing conference. This earned him the University of Surrey MILES research program's 'Most Innovative Project' award, against strong competition from over 100 full-time academics.
Meeting at the University of Surrey in 2009 while studying BSc Computer Science, Alex, Chris and Dan established a strong and lasting friendship, sharing ideas, beliefs and a worldview with a healthy dose of questioning the status quo. In 2013, Alex enrolled at the University of Southampton to study MSc Web Technology, having always wanted to study in the microcosm of energetic research centred on the World Wide Web. It is in this environment that Alex struck upon a number of problems that would later form the basis of Epi and the Epiarc. You can read about the journey this research took on our blog, Launch.
Alex was increasingly frustrated with the current mechanisms that we use to navigate to websites, principally that they were slow and untrustworthy, especially in the context of an increasing debt of noise on the Web and phishing attacks on URLs. URLs (web addresses) were long, unwieldy, hard to remember and easy to mistype. Alex ended up creating bookmarks for sites he would visit again, but this required a manual process on a site by site basis to ascertain the URL and verify its authenticty, and did not tackle discovery, that is, visiting new websites. For the most part, Alex ended up doing what most people do when they want to visit a website, they search for it in a search engine. This is problematic, first for speed and second for trust, in the era of advertising in which competing or malicious sites can be placed above the first result in adverts. Often one of the results on the first page is the only result needed, but there is so much noise to cut through before you get to navigate to it.
Over the years that followed, Alex has researched and thought at length about solutions to these problems. He realised that there needed to be a human-friendly and human-centric identifier and address for webpages, that was equivalent to the natural identifiers that people use for organisations and websites already. URIs, through domain names, already provide a layer of abstraction on top of IP addresses through the domain name system (DNS), meaning users don't have to use opaque unintelligible identifiers to access webpages, they can use mnemonics in the form of websites' domain names. But domain names and URIs do not go far enough for widespread human use and comprehension, we don't need the HTTP(S) protocol, superfluous slashes or top-level domains (TLDs) in the names that we're envisioning. The name system we're proposing offers widespread human understanding and adoption, because they're already using them everyday. People often refer to websites by their name, so Alex posited what if these names could be used as identifiers for Web resources?
Focusing on human-centric names, the archetypal resource identifier (ARI) was formed, the dual of the uniform resource identifier (URI) and uniform resource locator (URL) currently in force on the Web. The ARI can be both used as a naming identifier and a resolving identifier. The ARI uses a common name for a webpage that resolves to a URI.
The ARI for a website or resource is its most common name; the name that most people would refer to it.
Here are some examples of ARIs: BBC, UK Government, Facebook, TechCrunch, Twitter. They exist in their own right. When expressed in an Epiarc link, they can describe the URI that they resolve to, thus becoming a link between an ARI and a URI.
Crucial to the ARI is context, such that an ARI is archetypal for a given context. When a user subscribes to a context, they establish a trust relationship with that context, such that they consider the ARIs will match the URLs they expect. Contexts can be personal, from organisations, or designed for specific geographic regions, and can be established individually or by a organisation, and offered to other users. A lot of ARIs will be archetypal globally, but others will only uniquely resolve within a specific context. For example, American Broadcasting Company is globally archetypal, but ABC is not, because there are multiple organisations that use that name, including American Broadcasting Company and Australian Broadcasting Corporation. However, ABC can be archetypal to American Broadcasting Company in a geographic context of the United States, and similarly ABC can be archetypal to Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Australia. By subscribing to multiple contexts, a user can utilise their preferred ARIs to resolve links.
The World Wide Web has a number of definitions, but fundementally is a conceptual construct and a collection of protocols that request and deliver Web resources. It is no more a physical object than the solidification of ideas and words on the original paper from Tim Berners-Lee, and yet it is considered to be a collection of machines, and it makes things work and talk together. The power and the strength of the Web lies in its concept. Similarly with the Epiarc, it is a concept and network that has real social effects.
The Epiarc is a network that runs on top of the Web, so that it forms a network of networks, with Epiarc links forming a new human friendly level of abstraction on top of Web links. With the Epiarc, resources can exist on the network in their own right.
The commercial entity Epi was created to serve customers with applications and a platform that solves web discovery and enterprise search problems. Epi runs on the Epiarc, taking full advantage of the network by searching across the Epiarc, Web and various disparate document stores.
We founded Epi with a strong moral compass, with a firm committment to security, privacy, and giving agency to our users. We want to offer a better alternative to the dominant software business models of today — one where our products give you the experience you want and respect your rights.
You might wonder why we chose these names for our organisations. After many possibilities and iterations, the name Epiarc was chosen as it can be broken into two parts: epi and arc, with arc synonymous with links and short for archetype, symbolising that we want to build the recurrent and perfect model of links. The prefix epi is Ancient Greek for "upon", "in addition" and "above", signifying that we want links to be built on top of other links and linkbases, with humans building upon human knowledge. The word epi is also short for epitome, further representing that we want to build the perfect model for human-centric links.
Epi was chosen as the name of the company and public-facing product as it is a constituent part of the Epiarc, linguistically and conceptually, and it is short and memorable.
Epi Technologies Limited
27 Old Gloucester Street