The Object Network

Programming for everyone!

Surrounded by computers, but you cannot see inside

You're surrounded by computers: your phone, your PC or laptop, maybe a tablet, your television, perhaps you have a smart watch, smart lights, smart meters, smart everything!

But it seems that the world is run on computers "out there somewhere" on the internet. Other people's programs in control of your stuff.

You can't see inside them. You have access via web pages and apps, but can't directly access or change your own data.

You can't read the programs they're running to process your data and certainly aren't allowed to write your own programs to suit your own needs!

You're allowed into walled gardens where everything, the functionality they offer and the care of your data, is granted to you in exchange for constant surveillance.


However, one thing you can do is write your own spreadsheets. In a spreadsheet, you can see your own data, and can write your own programs using formulae.

But spreadsheets don't connect to anything, they work alone, they're not on the internet!

So what's the Big Idea to solve all that?

How about we run something like spreadsheets everywhere - on the devices, machines and servers all around us - and join them up over the internet!

What if you could run something like a little tiny spreadsheet on your smart lamp?

This could set its light colour and brightness via values that look like cells. These cells could be running a formula or mini program. These formulae can refer to the values in other cells, just like a spreadsheet does.

But, and this is where things get more powerful than the spreadsheet model, those cells can be 'seen' by the light over a local network, perhaps being the value of a dimmer switch in the same room.

Or, of course, they could refer to cells that show up as light and colour control dials on a mobile phone app. Or even to the angle you held the phone, because the accelerometer sensor state is also available in spreadsheet cells.

How about being able to write a little formula on the smart lamp that said "turn the light red while it's past the time that those hot concert tickets go on sale"? The time and date that the box office opens could be available in a couple of spreadsheet-like cells published on the internet on the ticket seller's server.

This is the vision of the "Object Network" and its app and programming system called "Onex".

You're putting an actual spreadsheet in every device?

Not exactly; Onex works in much the same way (this cell depends on that cell according to a formula), but it's a lot more powerful than spreadsheet cells and formulae because it bunches groups of cells into "Objects" and extracts formulae into "Rule Objects" that work over the entire set of an Object's cells. Grouping cells and formulae into Objects is not only more powerful, but also much easier to understand and manage.

And, perhaps the most important benefit: these Objects can be distributed around the internet and linked together!

Why is that a good thing?

All of this can return the empowerment of computing technology to normal people.

Instead of relying on someone else to decide this month's features, you can program stuff yourself, like you do a in spreadsheet.

Instead of sharing via servers in other countries, you can share data and program rules in the linked-up mesh, "peer to peer" - directly between you in the same room.

Tell me more!

Jump right in to discover the Onex app.

Or go here for more articles and presentations.

Duncan Cragg, 2016

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