The Object Network

The Object Network turns everything inside out

Instead of apps and services hiding and controlling your data within "walled gardens", the Object Network turns everything inside out.

Your data is freed from the prison of proprietary apps and services and it's the functionality, the behaviour that's trapped inside. This brings your data to life - it's internally animated:

For example, someone's calendar is really just a chunk of data: a list of events. Each event in this list is also a chunk of data, with the date and start time, etc.

Instead of a calendar being trapped in Google, and another trapped inside Meetup, we can free the data!

Then, all calendars and calendar events will look the same. And more importantly, behave the same, because what something looks like tells you what behaviour it has inside it.

Other examples of data we can free are: user profiles, messages, media, social networks, documents, and everything else we use tech for, including the colour of our smartlamp and the items we own in a 3D game.

IDs: handles on - and links between - live data "objects"

Each chunk of our data in the Object Network is called an "object". When we think of objects in the real world, we think of tangible things that can be picked up, inspected and talked about.

Each object has a globally unique ID which acts as a permanent handle on it. With an object's ID you can always see what that data looks like currently, assuming you've been granted access to it.

Further, objects can link up into a global network, simply by putting another object's ID into their data:

For example, I may have a calendar object with a list of events - a list of the IDs of those events. One of those events may be one of your event objects that you've given me the ID of. I just have to drop that ID into my calendar object's list in order to link to it.

Your live objects between your own devices

Now that we've freed objects and linked them up across the globe .. where do they live? Well, since they carry their behaviour with them and can always be located by a unique ID, they can go anywhere!

They're now free to live on any device you like: your mobile, your PC, your smartwatch, AR glasses, a shared online server or your home automation hub. Copies of objects can jump directly between these devices without corporate or government surveillance.

You have full visibility and control over your own digital stuff. You can create live objects on your mobile or PC to share to your family or friends' mobiles and PCs, directly. You can share a server or run your own server if you want, to give more reliable access to your objects.

If I create some text for you on my PC, all I need to do is share its ID with you. That's all the information you need in the Object Network to be able to fetch that object directly, possibly over the home WiFi without it ever leaving the house.

And, because objects are live data, if I update that text, you immediately see the changes.

Behaviour

Having put behaviour on the inside of objects, internally animating them, what kind of behaviours do objects exhibit? You can usually tell how an object will behave by looking at it - certain types of object all behave the same, and the shape of the data tells you what to expect.

The simplest form of behaviour can be exhibited by any object: being edited by its owner.

Another type of behaviour is exhibited by objects representing sensors or other external processes. For example, a temperature sensor's behaviour will be to show the measured temperature; a weather object to show the predicted weather, drawn in to the object from an external source.

Some behaviours are standard built-in "reactions" that are object type dependent. A simple example is that of a calendar event responding to an RSVP object. If the event sees a valid RSVP, it can add the ID of the corresponding attendee person object on that RSVP to an attendee list on itself.

Finally, any object can be animated by rules. An object can link to the ID of a rule object and then will evolve its data according to what the rule tells it to do.

Objects can "see" other objects that they have links to, and when those linked objects change, they can themselves change, according to their pre-defined behaviour or their rules, similarly to the way spreadsheet cells depend on each other.

Comparing current and Object Network approaches

The old way:

Waiting for tickets and venues to be announced for a meetup, keep scanning the web page to see if it's in London. Eventually it comes up, copy-paste link to event web page - if there is one that works without being logged in - then go into WhatsApp for a group of friends, then go into Facebook messenger for other friends, then do it again on Twitter. Manually create a calendar reminder.

Five logins, five app/services. Lots of manual work, error prone. You can only do what the five apps allow you to do in their own way, which changes without your approval, you have to manually copy-paste, and they own and control their version of the events and messages you created.

Everything you do is routed to central servers far away and is being watched by five companies that serve their advertisers and their government, not you. The announcement may be visible on Twitter or Facebook if it's not disapproved of by those advertisers or governments.

If you wanted to automate this, you may need a sixth login to IFTTT, with its own way of doing things that relies on the "integration" with the other five being sufficient and simple enough for what you need.

The Object Network way:

Everything is done with links to, or IDs for, simple live data objects that link together into a global object network. You can see the meetup calendar object with its list of links to event objects. These may have been created on someone's desktop, mobile, or their own online server. You again check this list until the London event comes up. You grab the link to the new event object - its unique ID - and create messages containing it for each group of friends' chat room objects and one for your public group. You could even have created a single message object and posted it to all three, since all the chat room objects and the public group object work the same way, which you can tell will probably be true because they all look the same, or similar enough. These messages are routed directly from your phone or PC to their subscribers' devices. You then simply drop the link to the event into your own calendar on your phone, without any retyping, because your calendar is also just a list of event objects, or links to them.

You could have created a simple ruleset - or just grabbed a link to someone else's - that matches to the arrival of the event in London, then creates messages for all the chat rooms and the public messaging group - like a chatbot - as well as adding the event to your calendar.

One identity. Everything works the same (links to live objects) so is much simpler and more transparent. You can tell how an object will behave just by looking at it. You don't need to copy paste all the time because you can usually re-use objects, like the messages and events, through the handle of their ID or link. No corporations or governments saw anything you did because it's all routed directly between devices. Everyone you expect to see the messages sees them because there's no hidden unexpected behaviour - what you see is what you get and you get what you decided when you configured it all yourself. You can easily automate everything yourself without having to rely on functionality provided to you this year by one of five services, or a sixth one.

Onex

The Object Network is being implemented through an app called the OnexApp. The OnexApp lets you view objects across the Object Network, then create, update and link together your own objects. There is also a smartwatch operating system called OnexOS.

OnexApp and OnexOS have a built-in programming language that is also called Onex. Onex allows you to animate your objects with simple rules that are no harder to write than spreadsheet formulae. Onex rules are also objects of course, so can be shared just like any other data.

Happy Objects

Object Network objects are happy objects, because no big company tells them what to do from the outside, they decide for themselves from within! They are also happy because they can link up to their friends either within the same device or across the world on other devices.

Find out more about the vision of the Object Network here.

Go here for many more articles and presentations.

Duncan Cragg, 2020. Contact me