Many keep recognizing the great prognostic insights about these latter days in “The Garden of Forking Paths” by Jorge Luis Borges published first in 1944. Politicians, scientists, and sociologists of the XX century have imposed many allusions reflecting various phenomena of the industrial era on the Borges’s paths.
The forking paths remain a convenient tool for mapping of both real and virtual landscapes up to now. So, why not to explore the garden of forking networks inherent in the post-industrial connectivity whose overcomplicated nature represents a mesh of nodes, hubs, and technologies appearing and disappearing again on the way of a curious researcher.
Diverging paths of IP
As we enter the garden of the contemporary networks, two wide and rather beaten paths converge and fork somewhere further down the garden comprising the dual stack of IPv4 and IPv6 standards. Numerous experts left their footprints here debating whether IPv6 was faster and safer than IPv4 for both users and carriers of the Internet content. The solid and heavy service providers such as T-Mobile, Comcast Cable, Deutsche Telekom, and Verizon Wireless akimbo the rest smaller vendors to leave the dear old IPv4 path in favor of more promising IPv6.
Google The Omnipresent keeps coming back and forth brandishing rich statistics in order to convince everyone that IPv6 alone is worth applying (without much success right now, however). IBM and Amazon created mobile backend IPv6-compatible platforms and services following the path to the future of Internet, as they say. It seems those two paths will diverge completely after all leaving IPv4 for those areas where high-quality Internet has not still recognized as the “fifth utility” along with water, gas, electricity, and transport.
Bypassing the Internet
Another wide and welcoming path of IoT and IIoT leads to a dendritic fork bifurcating into many smaller lanes of connectivity technologies for the SoCs (Systems-on-a-Chip).
Both novice startups and mature IoT manufacturers are roaming the lanes attempting to invent and harmonize new approaches different from the traditional alley of Wi-Fi. Z-Wave, ZigBee, IrDA, and the other new experimental (Narrow Band-IoT, a 3GPP-standard for Low Power Wide Area Networking) and rather old (Bluetooth, NFC) wireless network technologies are exploring new ways of how to arrange direct communication between WSNs (wireless sensor networks) beyond the Internet. Rethinking the mobile network architecture in order to facilitate the peer-to-peer communication between WSN clusters can transform IoT path into a wide and attractive alley for many industries.
Particularly since a clear direction indicator appeared in the form of the ‘Industrial Internet Connectivity Framework’ (IICF) published by the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) in February 2017.
The wireless altruism
Probably the widest road in the garden of the global connectivity belongs to Wi-Fi. Nonetheless, new paths are branching off the road to represent such initiatives as the Open Wireless Movement. A Coalition of Internet freedom advocates, companies, and organizations is trying to create a norm of shared networks where owners of underutilized Wi-Fi routers offer their bandwidth to the guest users free.
One of the aims of the movement comes to untying network owners from everything happening on the network. “Your IP address is not your identity, and your identity is not your IP address,” the staff attorney of OpenWireless.org Nate Cardozo says. “Open wireless makes mass surveillance and correlation of person with IP more difficult, and that’s good for everyone.”
Besides, they designed the router software, which encrypts each guest user’s link with a special HTTPS-type protocol on every connection. Avoiding congestion of cellular networks the Open Wireless Movement advocates the more efficient use of radio spectrum. Lust but not least, new amazing technologies are becoming possible when ubiquitous open wireless networks appear.
Wondrous creatures harbor on the almost invisible new path forking the Open Wireless Movement. Umbrellas alarming about the rain by LED blinking, Skype-phones providing free calls via the Internet without been bundled with the expensive 3G/4G mobile data plans, always-on video uplink for infants and pets and other various “magic objects” can reside on the path created by the open Wi-Fi together with Rockchip's Adaptive Dynamic Power Control Technology.
Rockchip invented a Wi-Fi combined chip card that can run off an AAA battery for 35 years staying connected even in standby. Such a technological leap empower innovators to create marvelous Wi-Fi compatible IoT objects having the unprecedented operating period along with connectivity of Elves level. This hardly-seen path is promising for those who reject the trivial and faceless repeating of somebody else’s experience. There is always room for true creativity in the garden of connectivity.
Trapping path of privacy
Shadow forces levitate over a dangerous path crossing all other alleys in this garden. The path of data privacy is trying to intrude the blossoming meadows of Google, Amazon, Dropbox, and Apple who mine user data for advertising and monetization. Rare brave individuals and organizations dare to go this path declaring that data privacy is becoming a privilege instead of being the guaranteed right. Those rare activists insist on shifting users’ private data from cloud storages to individuals’ WPANs. Besides, the collected public data should belong to consumers, not companies.
Users should have the right and ability to manage their data collected by devices while making their own decision what data can be shared in the public realm. In his “Who Owns the Future?” Jaron Lanier calls companies that collect valuable private information “Serene Servers”. Google paid nothing to those millions of users who provide Google’s translation algorithm with valuable translating experience. Ted Nelson’s Project Xanadu represents a two-way linking system indicating the source of any piece of information in order to reward people for their unique knowledge posted to the web.
Who is the gardener?
Traipsing around the garden of forking networks any curious explorer can select one or another path to follow. Those calculations of various credible experts such as Gartner, Cisco, and Forbes predicting up to 50 billion connections by 2020 invitingly beckon everyone to visit the garden.
This environment attracts with the future of abundance that hints, as Angus Hervey notes, at the ubiquitous connection of everything, not just inanimate objects, but services, interactive devices, sensors and ultimately, people.
The garden spreads out with proliferating paths in every direction to delight the eye. Everyone may expect the upcoming convenient always-on Internet without any black spots inside and outside our homes on the gadgets we carry with us.
Nonetheless, a naturally begging question arises: who is that kind gardener that can prevent the paths against the weeds of backdoors, erosion of data breaches, and wormholes of hacking? Despite the exponential improvement in the effectiveness of communication technologies, even great Borges could not answer the question offhand.