The Object Network

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

The Object Network's vision is of a 2D and 3D virtual world seamlessly running across all of our mobile 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 fabric sewn from links to that digital property: our photos, messages, shopping lists, contacts, appointments, past and future events, geo-locations, cameras, phone sensors; our networked home lights and sensors; our 3D objects.

Links in the fabric flow both into and then onwards from these things, and there are lists, collections, virtual places and locations filled with links to them, and which in turn can be reached and composed through links.

Links jump from one tablet, mobile or PC to another, and the stuff they link to can be seen to change and 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 running an Object Network app on your tablets and phones. You could be on the home WiFi, on mobile data or at work, you could be together or separated across the planet.

Each one of you could allow anything on their device to be published by this app, 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 Lifx lamp via WiFi, that too could be made available to everyone on a link.

If someone 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 page; a camera could show the current view, like CCTV. If you viewed a user object, you'd see their 'status' text, and could chat with them. Anything with a geo location - users, photos - could be plotted on a map.

Collections of 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, 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, maybe lists of pictures in a gallery view, events on a calendar. If you made a list of both people and photos from each of your devices, the whole lot could be plotted together on a map, 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 entity which contains a list of links to all attendees and links to the contact card of the venue - all shared from the phones of each member of the party.

You could create a simple 2D layout containing links to pictures and text or a 3D representation of your whole house, linking to all the lights, switches and sensors.

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 be kept up-to-date, light level and other sensor readings stay in sync, etc.

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

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

We can control our automated home and allow others to visit a virtual version of that home. We can build an unlimited virtual world together, like in Minecraft, but with many regions all linked up across the planet.

Read more

Here's more information and detail on the Object Network.

Here's more about the Philosophy of the Object Network. And something about its Vision.

And here's a story describing a future where this is all implemented, in an app called "NetMash".

And a fictional review of a virtual world app called "LinkCraft".

Tell me what you think!

If this resonates with you, get in touch (see just below). Any feedback on the above is welcome, but I'm especially interested if you want to join me or help in any way. Help in the form of dollars would be ideal, but note that there can be no business plan for this kind of thing.

The development of the Internet and the Web were funded through public money - for defence and physics research respectively - that in each case was not intended to achieve the final result of an open, global, public system, but which was channelled by visionaries who had that final result in mind.

The next global network, whether or not that's the Object Network, will be funded through passionate individuals who see beyond their current context and constraints.

Duncan Cragg, 2015

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