The Object Network Exploration Lab
I'm starting a research lab to explore the Object Network. Here's why you may want to join me on my journey!

My life's work

My name is Duncan Cragg, and I've been working on this project "The Object Network" since I was a teenager. The Object Network is a bottom-up re-imagining of how we design, build and use computer and internet technology. Its vision is that we regain full control over the computer and network technology we use daily, and the data we work with daily. There's a good intro here of the main concepts, manifest in a novel operating system - an OS that replaces the flat desktop with a shared 3D virtual world!

What hasn't worked up to now

Of course, it's an more than an epic task to re-invent decades of technology. So in the past I tried perhaps a hundred different ways to reduce down the work, to make it practical, useful and usable: to make it fit in and work alongside the mainstream approaches - the very approaches that it was simultaneously trying to fix! This meant I had to hide the bigger vision, which didn't work because the small chunk I offered was lacking that broader motivation and was over-constrained by swimming in the very waters that I was ultimately trying to escape.

The lab format frees the mind

Instead, I'm adopting the format and style of a research lab. This frees everything up entirely and allows me the mental space to explore and demo all and any aspects of the broader vision that I find interesting and fun, in thin slices. It takes away the stifling constraint of having to fit in to existing expectations of technology.

Questions to ask on the Lab's whiteboard

A Lab format allows me to ask questions like "How can we re-engineer the Web to fix its issues and return it to a truly decentralised medium?", "How can we re-engineer spreadsheets to break them free of their grid and link them up across the planet?" and "What would a 3D virtual world operating system look like, given that virtual worlds don't have any place for 'apps'?" Or how about "How can we break free of the walled gardens and 'app traps' put in place by Big Tech and friends?" and "Why shouldn't non-programmers program?" For extra controversy: "Why not build the Metaverse and the Internet of Things, but serving us, not them?"

It's like these labs, but different

The Object Network Exploration Lab (i.e., me, at home) is inspired to some extent by the style and motivations of other similar research projects in computer tech, such as Alan Kay's Xerox Parc, Bret Victor's DynamicLand and Alexander Obenauer's Lab Notes project (the latter two approaches share many concepts with the Object Network, incidentally.) My conception has regular publishing of short Lab Notes with lots of illustrations. It will be aimed at a non-technical audience. Its domain is everyday, not specifically business or academia, for example.

Who should read the Lab Notes

If you're non-technical or tech-aware and interested in the future of networked, programmable technology, or consider yourself an "early adoptor" of new tech, then you should find the Lab Notes interesting. But you'll feel especially at home here if you think that Big Tech and its government and globalist friends have gone too far in taking control and owership of our own technology and data away from us!

Walking towards our tech future

I will never stop dreaming of a future of full empowerment over our own technology and data along with the freedom to use and play with it how we like, in collaboration and co-creation with others. This Lab is where I'll explore how to achieve that, and I'd be delighted to make this journey along with others - perhaps with you!

Read on

The main reading materials for the Object Network Lab are on my Substack site.
You could go off and look at the intro to the novel 3D operating system that I mentioned above. Then, there's a list here of many broad and deep articles and presentations about the Object Network to jump in to.

Duncan Cragg, 2023. Contact me