The Object Network

Super-powers, but not yours

Our digital experience, although radically changing our daily lives largely for the better, brings with it a dependency on isolated, centralised and controlling internet super-powers, like Facebook, Twitter, Google and Apple. Each app on our phones has its own login to its own central server. Each interaction with someone standing next to us goes via California. If it's free, then you're the product, relentlessly tracked and marketed at. Some apps even try to own the web, with built-in browsers that keep you inside their world.

Each company re-invents everything, their servers and apps coded in backrooms by skilled developers who do the same things again and again - writing yet more intricate code for the logging in, for building another UI, for the services, for integration between internal systems. You can only do what those developers decide fits their company's business model, accessing your own data is hard, and you certainly can't build features yourself or link features or data between services or apps of different super-powers.

Everything is inscrutable - you don't have a handle on your own stuff except as mediated by Their service. Even apps themselves, as separate from your data, your precious, personal digital stuff, are unintuitive - apps try to own your data, but are separate. Your experience is of idle data and a choice of active apps. Your digital things are only 'alive' as long as their sovereign or master app is alive; data is inert until animated by one or other app that then takes over your interaction with it, but then often locks it away. You may be allowed, or forced, to upload, download or copy stuff manually from place to place, but only at a level of basic compatibility.

Application Boundaries

Applications and services put up resistance to the free movement of our digital stuff, our photos, messages and contact cards. This is because interchange requires manual effort to traverse their boundaries: we have to deliberately shuffle this inert data around. We upload, save, share, submit, send and copy across our stuff from one app or online service, then we download, load, refresh and fetch it back again - assuming the data formats are compatible between them.

And this data is not just lifeless without its application, it is copied around such that changes to the original get lost.

This would be bad enough, but those application and service boundaries are used by companies to trap and own users and their digital assets. They deliberately create walled-gardens and silos, because it makes us easier to sell to advertisers, or to keep within a site selling us products.

Further, such proprietary intermediaries in our digital life don't just trap us, they form an extra hop between each of us, which is slower and less secure and requires us to be online to work.

As the internet comes deeper into our homes and offices through the Internet of Things and Augmented Reality, this power to see and control the details of our daily lives becomes ever greater. We're going to see more and more in the news about the risks of centralisation and its effect on privacy and security, quite apart from the inefficiency and lack of robustness that centralisation brings. And quite apart from the risks of this in the face of power- and information-hungry governments.

The Object Network solution

The Object Network is being built to change all that and to restore visibility and control to each of us, and to increase security, robustness and efficiency. It does this by freeing the data and bringing it 'alive'.

The Object Network frees your data by de-centralising control over it: each bit of your digital stuff is given a unique identifier which is a sharable handle on that item. It can then itself be shared directly ('peer-to-peer' or device to device) across the net, creating a global, visible linked-up mesh of our digital stuff.

The Object Network brings your data alive by allowing that stuff to be animated by anyone who owns it, with simple rules that are no more complex than spreadsheet formulae.

There are no apps or services controlling inert or hidden data - just an open network of linked-up, dynamic, shared stuff.

Duncan Cragg, 2016

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