I'm starting a research lab to explore the Object Network. Here's why you may want to
join me on my journey!
My life's work
My name is Duncan Cragg, and I've been working on this project "The Object Network"
since I was a teenager. The Object Network is a bottom-up re-imagining of how we design,
build and use computer and internet technology. Its vision is that we regain full
control over the computer and network technology we use daily, and the data we work with
daily. There's a good intro here of the main concepts, manifest
in a novel operating system
- an OS that replaces the flat desktop with a shared
3D virtual world!
What hasn't worked up to now
Of course, it's an more than an epic task to re-invent decades of technology. So in the
past I tried perhaps a hundred different ways to reduce down the work, to make it
practical, useful and usable: to make it fit in and work alongside the mainstream
approaches - the very approaches that it was simultaneously trying to fix! This meant I
had to hide the bigger vision, which didn't work because the small chunk I offered was
lacking that broader motivation and was over-constrained by swimming in the very waters
that I was ultimately trying to escape.
The lab format frees the mind
Instead, I'm adopting the format and style of a research lab. This frees everything up
entirely and allows me the mental space to explore and demo all and any aspects of the
broader vision that I find interesting and fun, in thin slices. It takes away the
stifling constraint of having to fit in to existing expectations of technology.
Questions to ask on the Lab's whiteboard
A Lab format allows me to ask questions like "How can we re-engineer the Web to fix its
issues and return it to a truly decentralised medium?", "How can we re-engineer
spreadsheets to break them free of their grid and link them up across the planet?" and
"What would a 3D virtual world operating system look like, given that virtual worlds
don't have any place for 'apps'?" Or how about "How can we break free of the walled
gardens and 'app traps' put in place by Big Tech and friends?" and "Why shouldn't
non-programmers program?" For extra controversy: "Why not build the Metaverse and the
Internet of Things, but serving us, not them?"
It's like these labs, but different
The Object Network Exploration Lab (i.e., me, at home) is inspired to some extent by the
style and motivations of other similar research projects in computer tech, such as Alan Kay's
, Bret Victor's
Alexander Obenauer's Lab Notes
latter two approaches share many concepts with the Object Network, incidentally.) My
conception has regular publishing of short Lab Notes with lots of illustrations. It will
be aimed at a non-technical audience. Its domain is everyday, not specifically business
or academia, for example.
Who should read the Lab Notes
If you're non-technical or tech-aware and interested in the future of networked,
programmable technology, or consider yourself an "early adoptor" of new tech, then you
should find the Lab Notes interesting. But you'll feel especially at home here if you
think that Big Tech and its government and globalist friends have gone too far in taking
control and owership of our own technology and data away from us!
Walking towards our tech future
I will never stop dreaming of a future of full empowerment over our own technology and
data along with the freedom to use and play with it how we like, in collaboration and
co-creation with others. This Lab is where I'll explore how to achieve that, and I'd be
delighted to make this journey along with others - perhaps with you!
Duncan Cragg, 2023. Contact me