The Object Network

A proposal for the next phase of the Internet and the Web

The Object Network's vision is of a virtual world running across all of our personal and domestic digital devices, where we can meet each other and create, share and interact with all of our digital property.

This virtual world is an unlimited, seamless fabric sewn from links - that is, through identifiers which are like web URLs. Links point directly to that digital property on its host devices: to our photos, messages, shopping lists, contacts, appointments, past and future events, geo-locations, cameras, sensors; our networked home lights and sensors; our 3D structures; even ourselves.

There are virtual places made from lists of links to this digital stuff. These places in turn can be reached through links and then composed into bigger places.

Links in the fabric flow both into and then onwards from all these things, jumping from one wearable, home hub or connected device to another. This allows us to seamlessly navigate from object to object across the planet; anything can link to anything else, and go on doing that around an unlimited virtual world.

If the stuff being viewed via a link changes, those updates are propagated to observers that link to it, such as our user objects. Other non-user objects can also view those changes - and change themselves, according to their animation rules. Remote items can be interacted with as if they were held locally.

Links to stuff

To illustrate how the Object Network works, imagine you and a couple of friends and family members are each using Object Network wearables, home devices or hubs. You could be on the home WiFi or peer-to-peer radio network, on mobile data or at work, you could be together or separated across the planet.

Each one of you could allow anything on your device to be published, directly from device to device or "peer-to-peer", to the others with a simple link.

Pictures, music, contacts, messages, events, compass, orientation, camera, light level, barometer, etc. Even an object representing each of you, showing an avatar or profile picture, GPS location, etc. If the device is in control of a lamp via radio, that too could be made available to everyone on a link.

You could create more linkable stuff within the device itself, and that would be how most 3D content would originate, perhaps with some import of shapes and graphics.

If anyone viewed such a link to something, they'd see a suitable render of that object: contacts just as you'd expect, in the form of a contact card; a camera could show the current view on a screen, like CCTV. If you viewed a user object, you'd see their avatar and maybe some 'status' text, and could chat with them or view their linked contact card. Anything with a geo location - users, photos - could be plotted on a map. 3D objects would be rendered directly.

Places composing links

But it's not just links to these individual items that can be shared - you can create lists or collections of links; in fact, 3D places, galleries, regions or worlds full of links to stuff. These lists have links, too, so can be nested and linked together and then shared.

If someone viewed a list of links, they'd see a suitable render of that set of objects: perhaps a contact list in the form of a book, maybe collections of pictures in a 3D gallery view, events on a realistic calendar, 3D regions built from links to 3D objects and structures.

If you made a list of both people and photos from each of your devices, the whole lot could be plotted together on a scaled map as the "ground" in a 3D view complete with a sky, and people would move on the map as they moved around. You can plot each other moving on a map towards a rendezvous, described by an appointment object which contains a list of links to all attendees and links to the contact card of the venue - all shared from the devices of each member of the party.

You could create a simple flat layout containing links to pictures and text like a photo album, or a 3D representation of your whole house, linking to all the lights, switches and sensors; viewable and interactable in an augmented reality mode.

Depending on the type of content, a view could be rendered using augmented or virtual reality techniques. Using cross-platform technology these views will look the same on all home and wearable devices, within the limits of scene complexity.

Updating and interacting

Anything you had a link to would keep on updating in its view. So it's not like normal sharing, where you get a copy - if the thing shared changes, everyone's view or copy changes, too. So geo-locations update, shared lists of links can be added to or removed from, shopping lists update at home and in the supermarket, contacts can be kept up-to-date. Light level and other sensor readings stay in sync. People and animals move around in 3D worlds.

Also, everything can continue to be interacted with, if you have interaction permission. You can collaboratively create and share access to photo galleries built from links to photos on multiple devices. The connected lamp would be rendered as a coloured blob of light if read-only or could be controlled with sliders or rotary dials if permitted.

Dependencies between interacting objects can be declared in rules that are as simple to write as spreadsheet formulae.

As a fun example that illustrates the simplicity and power of all this, you could wire your lamp object with a link to the orientation of your brother's smartwatch in another town, such that when they tipped or rotated their wrist there, your light would change through all the colours!

The network exchange occurs directly between the watch and the lamp, enabled by the universal id, or UID, of the smartwatch and the lamp, allowing them to find each other. This behaviour would be declared in one of the light's animation rules, which you could easily write yourself.

You can control your automated home and allow others to visit the virtual or augmented reality version of that home. You can build an unlimited 3D virtual world together, like in Minecraft, but with many regions all linked up across the planet through their UIDs.

More on Object Network links

You navigate this world by exploring these links: expanding them in-place, moving towards something and focusing, jumping into the place linked or crossing over into it by "walking" in the 3D world. You can even visit someone else's home on their hub, and grab links to things you like and reuse them yourself.

You can grab links to anything (not just Web pages like we're used to) and reuse them, paste them on your home wall, paste them to your social network, paste them onto your calendar, onto a map, whatever. You can view lists of links to things as scrolls, maps, boxes, etc. You can merge lists of things. You can link to people - avatars and contact cards - as well as to places and property. Things can build upon or depend on other things simply through wiring up links. Rules themselves are objects with UIDs.

Duncan Cragg, 2016

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