The Object Network

The Object Network: freedom and empowerment

Your apps and services imprison your data and leave you disempowered and controlled.

The Object Network empowers you by freeing you and your data.

Disempowered, trapped, controlled

You've reached a tense truce with your favourite apps and services: you get huge benefit from Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Apple, etc., but there is a cost:

So, even though we all benefit from these free services, the price we pay is being disempowered, trapped, watched and controlled.

Our two most powerful and liberating inventions - computers and the internet - are controlled by Them not Us.

Existing solutions

Now, of course, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube & co. aren't going away soon, and your data will always be lost there, but there have been some attempts made to address these issues with alternative offerings.

Technologies such as peer-to-peer file sharing and video hosting, secure chat, decentralised currencies, federated social networking - as implemented in BitTorrent, LBRY, PeerTube, Signal, Matrix, BitCoin, Fediverse, and so-on.

Each of these only delivers a slice of our needs and they only solve the privacy and censorship issues with apps and services. They still don't all work the same way or even work together; they still create walled gardens and silos of their own. You're still not back in control of things.

The Object Network: no more apps or services!

We need to go deeper, lower in the layers of technology, to re-build upwards on a single, common foundation. We only need to make the deep technological changes once and all applications can build on and benefit from that.

This is the role the Object Network sets out to fulfil - an alternative underlying, enabling technology, on top of which we can build our own social networks and other shared functionality. A "People's Cyberspace"!

The Object Network's solution is to simply get rid of apps and services!

Without apps and services imprisoning our data, we can own and control it ourselves.

The Web and links

The best example of an existing technology that works without apps and services is the original World Wide Web from the early 90s. This simply had pages that linked to one another, in a seamless global cyberspace.

There were no individual apps or services per host site in this early conception of the Web. There was a single browser for visiting every site, found by its URL. There were no app or service boundaries to trap you, as each site was just a link away. Almost anyone could view another's web page code and create their own pages.

However, the Web clearly didn't end up solving the issues listed above! It was Us and Them almost from the start, because they could hide our data on remote servers behind pretty pages in the browser. They programmed apps and services within those servers and even inside our browsers, using arcane languages and frameworks that only techies could comprehend.

It was, and is, hard for Us to become one of Them.

Fixing the Web: dynamic two-way data linked up

The Object Network takes that simple early design of the Web, and makes three important updates.

These fixes to the Web consolidate its original potential and allow us to build the People's Cyberspace - a foundation for empowerment and freedom:

World Wide WebObject Net
Web pages that are presentational documents, linked together across the globe; data hidden Chunks of our live data that are linked together across the globe
Browsers for us and servers for them; they control the conversation "Hosts" for everyone, talking directly, peer-to-peer in both directions
Only programmers are able to animate pages on servers or inside browsers An accessible programming language that anyone can use to animate their data, like they can in spreadsheets

If we start with data not documents, we go directly to the thing that's most important to us and that we currently have no visibility over, as it's usually locked away in a database we don't own. If we can link that data up we can build on each other's data and share anything with just a link. And just like the Web, with its standard document format of HTML, we will need standard data formats for all our data.

If our data is on our own machines, and is passed directly between them, then we regain control over it. The balance of power is restored as there's no "us and them", just "us" equally.

If that data is "live" like data in a spreadsheet, we can set up dependencies between data chunks. Data can exhibit "internal behaviour" and interact with other data in the network.

This can form the basis for any functionality we like, from social networks to home automation and virtual worlds, all under our control, all in a single, seamless, shared cyberspace:

How that looks in practice

The practical implementation of these ideas is in an app called Onex. So let's go through how we can use Onex, in a slide presentation. (You can skip to slide 22 if you don't need the recap, and can stop at slide 34 if the Onex programming language doesn't interest you yet):

Building a cyberspace ourselves

The "Powers that Shouldn't Be" - huge global corporations and increasingly authoritarian governments - have had it their way for too long, and they're now starting to push too far.

The time is perfect for us to collaborate on a new, free and empowering technology that we own and build ourselves. We can wind everything back to the original design of the Web, then wind forward with three critical changes to that design, creating the Object Network.

With the Onex app, we can build the Object Network together, spanning the globe. An infrastructure that can't be controlled or surveilled, and where everything we create links together and works together.

We can build our own social networks for chat, publishing and file sharing, our own interactive objects for todo lists, calculators and calendars, our own home automations, even our own 3D "Metaverse".

In the Object Network:

You don't even need to be particularly technical to create quite complex functionality. But if you can't do it, someone else can, and can share the link to their rule or data objects for you to use.

Of course, it's a hugely ambitious project when taken to its ultimate conclusion, but it only needs to deliver a slice of value early on to be worth investing our time in, even if it never fully replaces the Us and Them Web!

Next steps..

The code for Onex has been started, but there is still a way to go for it to be useful. If you can program in C, then it would be great to have your help!

If you're not a techie, then you're the target audience for Onex and the Object Network! Perhaps you'd like to guide its design, or maybe you know people who would be interested in testing the concept and the code? If you're a marketing type, or someone with many connections, you could help spread the word about the Object Network.

There's a contact email at the base of the page.

Read more

Go here for more on how the Object Network works.

Go here for many more articles and presentations.

Duncan Cragg, 2020. Contact me