Yes, a lot of people are unhappy right now how the Internet and the Web are evolving the last decade. From practical connections between people and between documents to exchange info, cooperate and construct new knowledge and value; these two fabrics have turned into advertising & sales media and monopoly greedy shark dominated personal profile gathering marketplaces and governmental controlaholic social tools to surveil and suppress. Both Business and Nation States have now at last understood how important Internet and WWW are, and are on the offensive to dominate and even fight wars in these “networks” and tell us what we should do and how to behave in Cyberspace. When you are online, many sharks lurk at your data to see if they can make money at your expense and without your explicit consent.
I am however happy to report that in response to this pollution and extraction, there are right now at least three (3) worldwide structures growing, alive, powerful and kicking based on voluntary activities, not dominated by making money or fighting over power. And they grow and expand as if they are living beings. 🙂
I. Let us first take a good look at what THE INTERNET was and is, see its definition https://theconnectivist.wordpress.com/2015/09/01/what-is-internet/ :
” An internet is a voluntary agreement among network operators (private or public digital network owners) to exchange and transit datatraffic for their mutual benefit”. That’s all — it’s an agreement. You can not regulate or control that !!
In other words: “The Internet of Connectivity” is a Commons.
(Side remark. I often ask nation state politicians and their international busybodies who want to regulate the Internet [while they often mean the web and/or certain service providers] if they can tell me and the conference audience what the Internet is. And I nearly always am answered by a blank stare or remarks that that is “too technical”. In fact they have no clue and no jurisdiction on the Internet. The ISOC.org and its groups (like IETF, IAB and ICANN) of dedicated engineers DO know, thank heavens)
Based on the above definition the Internet of Connectivity can be regarded as an INFRASTRUCTURE where resources are interconnected and shared, and it includes:
- Optic Fiber cables aka FTTH/ FTTB access networks , on land in trenches and on/in the bottom of the seas
- Internet Exchanges (neutral place for peering and transit)
- Wi-Fi in-house and in-office wireless networks
- Wireless 3G, 4G and 5G mobile networks provided by commercial operators
- Private / corporate networks with safe internet access and for service provision of for instance Google, Facebook, Alibaba and a number of E-Commerce companies
- Access networks to and in datacenters where Cloud services are provided
- Networks for streaming video services like Netflix, Apple+, Disney
All these old and recent “networks” use their own and the shared internet infrastructure which should be kept as open for new entrants and as agnostic (neutral) of the actual traffic running over it, as possible. That way the internet grows exponentially and absorbs new technology at an amazing rate: 1 to 10 Gbit/second symmetric access links are becoming ‘normal’.
II. The second coming up is “The Internet of Distributed Hosting”, and is about Hosting applications on millions of computers, connected with by the internet. In 2007 the members of the HOLO HOSTING team https://holo.host/ began thinking about
“how to construct a connected distributed infrastructure to provide Holo hosting services using idle personal computers connected to the internet that where offered by volunteers for processing and storage, located all over the world“.
To achieve this they implemented an accounting system called HoloChain that keeps track of the usage of the computers and using an internal “currency” called HoloFuel which at a later stage be used to compensate the volunteers for their offered resources.
Now, at the end of 2019, the first series of HoloPort computers (loaded with software and instructions how to operate such special and powerful PC’s bought by volunteers, are going to be shipped and delivered, at first for a large scale alpha test phase. Curious as I am, I ordered one, for sure :-)). In a number of countries HoloChain developer groups meet to experiment and learn from each other to improve on the open source software available. I am sure that this distributed resource sharing system and “commons community” for hosting will scale up fast and will grow exponentially on top of the Internet. See explanation of HoloChain : youtu.be/iU070qs84Ho
Eager to regulate this by nation states? How? It consists of idle computers offered by volunteers. Sure, the commons of Holo will only exist and survive if everybody sticks to the strict rules of the Commons. See what Mrs Ostrom, Nobel Prize winner Economics, wrote about those. And it remains to be seen if these dolphins can keep the business sharks outside. Yes the new society will consist of States& Cities and Businesses and Commons cooperating with each other in the Trias Internetica I defined and presented since 1988, see https://theconnectivist.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/transition-from-crisis-1-the-digitized-civil-society-as-a-force/
Yes I suggest to take a good look at Holo and what those smart boys and girls are doing. This will be huge and unstoppable.
III The third swarm is “The INTERNET OF ENERGY” (IoE) coming up, orchestrated by RedGrid1
That Australian software developer company is building a commons for people that can be more conscious and sovereign in their energy use. Organisations, universities, real-estate owners, companies and homeowners can volunteer to let the equipment (smart power plugs) of RedGrid1 switch off some of their installations or electrical equipment for a limited time in order to shave the peaks of power demands of high voltage grid power transport networks. These grids are facing growth in demand AND large fluctuations from renewable power like wind turbines and large numbers of solar panels. If we want to fight climate change, fossil fuel use must be diminished and renewable solar and wind expanded. But then we must tackle the fluctuation problem, since wind can decrease suddenly and sunlight blocked by clouds in specific area’s.
At the same time electric cars, busses, planes, trains and lories must be loaded, if possible in a controlled sequence. Natural gas must be replaced by electricity, and the hundreds of thousands of IoT devices/ km^2 must be powered. All this requires power switching and transport networks which where not build for all these things and to enlarge them will take decades of city planning/permits and construction. The direction in which the RedGrid1 network solution can help decrease the overloading & congestion and avoid outages and blackouts (& fires) like in California, Australia and South Africa; is to construct a network of many the mentioned interconnected smartplugs and orchestrate them to decide together what devices/installations should be switched off or on. This is done in a distributed way with “Internet of Energy” protocols on top of an the accounting system of HoloChain (see II) which is connected by way of Wi-Fi or LTE Internet (see I) links. Incentive for the volunteers is that their energy bill will be much lower, and they will get a premium for the lowering/ raising of the peak, payable in virtual “kWatts”.
At he same time local communities or neighborhoods can generate and deliver + account renewable energy to each other, which also decreases the total load of fossil fuel use.
Crucial is the notion that instead of controlling electricity grids up to the local transformers from a central point, fluctuating supply and demand can be balanced by smart grids between smart devices on a large scale INSIDE the premises of the customers. This smart system is being tested right now in Australia and will be gradually upscaled in number of plugs and verified to fulfill strong quality criteria. And soon my company Go-Consulting.com , in the #ElektroMesh project, will do tests and field trials with this technology, in close cooperation with RedGrid1, in The Netherlands and Germany.
Fighting climate change is urgent for, cities, governments and the EU, and they start to realize that this “Internet of Energy” stuff will DO have practical effects, instead of only producing good intentions and promises.
To sum up the above, please notice that:
- III: The Internet of Energy runs on top of II: The Internet of Distributed Hosting and that works on top of I: The Internet of Connectivity.
- All three work with commons that consist of volunteers contributing equipment for shared use.
- What in each case does result is an unstoppable “Collective Intelligence” which uses AI and exhibits “Emergent Behaviour” like many groups of beings and even trees in Nature do too. Which turned out to be successful since it is based on value creation by interconnection, cooperation and SYNERGY. Together we are strong.
Last but not least I have noticed that engineers, software developers and organizers who work in I, II and III and who really know what they are doing are driven by a certain urge. The want to be part of something bigger than they themselves. I am proud and grateful to be in their midst !!
jaap van Till, TheConnectivist
PS1 This article in Forbes confirms what we are doing in Australia and Europe, but also shows that the Americans and Chinese are way behind 🙂
(blog updated on January 19, 2020)