Imagine a Different Internet

For a moment, imagine that the Internet had just been invented - TCP/IP, DNS, servers, firewalls, etc. exist but no cloud applications yet exist. Now suspend everything you currently know about the Internet and imagine the following:

First, a Universal User Platform is created

A world-wide “user platform” is created co-owned by every user and democratically governed. This user platform has the following characteristics:

  1. Anyone can be a user – all registered users have verified identity

  2. When anyone participates on the Internet they do it through this user platform which acts as the single secure, robustly-authenticated gateway to the Internet

  3. Every user owns and has full control over all of their personal data (who it is shared with, life cycle, etc.)

  4. Herein is the single version of truth for all of the data associated with each user and thus it is trivial to maintain and does not lead to expensive mistakes due to bad data.

  5. This data never leaves this system

  6. There is no concept of “sending” messages or content – messages and content are simply shared

  7. Any user can collaborate with any other user and this user platform is the sole means of collaborating (for universal collaboration it would have to be on a single system otherwise users of one system would not be able to collaborate with users of another)

  8. There are sophisticated groups and permissions to facilitate control of access to user data

  9. All data is persisted in data centers hosted in countries with laws that are most favorable to users in terms of data ownership and usage.

  10. There are common, universal messaging, file-sharing/viewing, calendaring, alerting, social media, systems that anyone can use – these systems are plug-able much like themes in WordPress allowing for innovation. (since users have full control over their data, that includes all data associated with these user-oriented services)

  11. This platform provides low-level user interface service (UIaaS) that can be “programmed” or controlled externally by “applications”

  12. The UIaaS has a plug-able model allowing a marketplace of UI “plugins” that implement the UI – the same UI plugin can be used with any application for a consistent UI across all applications.

  13. Vetted “applications” can register with this user platform in order to interact with the users of the platform via the UIaaS

Then Applications are created

Applications of all kinds are created with a wide variety of purpose and business logic for a wide variety of organizations, capitalist ventures, commerce, enterprise automation, non-profit organizations, governments, cooperatives, etc. These applications have the following characteristics:

  1. They rely on the User Platform for all user management (login, registration, etc.)

  2. They work with users anonymously

  • Inbound, personal or identifying data is stripped off, stored in the user platform and replaced with a token that is sent on to the application

  • outbound, tokens are recognized and the corresponding personal data stored in the user platform is substituted for the token

  1. They have a single secure connection to the User Platform (This could be a non-Internet link like a leased line or a very secure VPN over the Internet)

  2. They are never exposed to the Internet directly (only the user platform is exposed to the Internet in order to access users’ browsers, mobile devices, etc.)

  3. They utilize the user platforms UIaaS as their applications means of presenting a UI to their users

  4. These applications have little security concerns since they aren’t exposed the Internet, don’t have to handle user authentication, and do not need to concern themselves with many OWASP and other similar security concerns since they leverage the user platform’s UIaaS.

  5. Users can perform a one click registration with applications available on this user platform for instant access.

  6. The user platform’s UIaaS has the means to inject user data and user functions (messaging, file-sharing, etc.) into their user interface

  7. The user platform’s UIaaS has the means to inject UI components from other applications into an applications user-interface

  8. Messaging on the user platform can inject application components into messages (the boundary between “messages” and applications never evolves)

  9. Applications have a means of charging users, via the user platform, for use of their application

  10. Applications must pay to the user platform cooperative, a one-time registration fee, a fee per user (or block of users) and per transaction fee

Additional Notes

While data can stay within the user platform for the most part, there are cases where an application might need a specific piece of actual user data for a calculation. This is ok because:

  1. That data is never persisted on the application per terms of service with the user platform

  2. There is only a single terms of service agreement regarding use of user data that is ever negotiated and that is between the user platform and an application

  3. Users never directly agree to terms of service, regarding personal data usage, directly with an application – they only have to do it once with the user platform

Had the Internet evolved this way, each user is served by many cloud applications on the user's own terms. This is much different from the current model where every cloud application thinks it is the center of the universe and theirs is the only cloud application a user uses.

Had the Internet evolved this way, there would be one single consolidated “user entity” owned by the user, tailored to them and under their full control, instead of the current model where that “user entity” is redundantly re-implemented in millions of cloud applications with no ownership and very little control by users.

Had the Internet evolved this way monolithic, wealthy minority-owned, venture capital-backed Cloud behemoths that monopolize a particular application segment would be difficult to create since the user platform could supply any new application with an instant critical mass of users and it would be much harder, if not impossible, to based them on surveillance capitalism business models.

CloudHaven is the user platform described above

Obviously, we can’t turn back the clock and evolve the Internet as described above, nor is it likely that existing applications are going to suddenly drop everything and rewrite themselves to fit this model. Nor are they likely to be very receptive to this model since it flies against the surveillance capitalism business model on which so many of today’s Cloud behemoths are based.

However, there are a variety of adoption paths that can be taken that would start small and lead to greater and greater adoption. One approach is to target startups with the following concerns:

  1. Data compliance needs (HIPAA, GDPR)

  2. Collaboration (healthcare-related applications collaborating on a patient record)

  3. Offloaded user management (speedier path to an MVP and fewer security concerns)

  4. Value collaboration over advanced UIs (UIaaS may lag in sophistication and innovation)

  5. Need rapid/easy UI implantation (faster path to MVP and fewer security concerns)

Here is one use case for CloudHaven

It is not uncommon for file viewers to be integrated into an applications UI. This requires an somewhat complex OAuth-based integration that is exposed to the Internet. With CloudHaven, the file would remain in CloudHaven and a viewer for it would be "injected" into the application (think x-ray for a healthcare application) – this integration is happening in a closed system, not exposed to the Internet and thus does not require something like OAuth. And it looks visually seamless.

Another use case

Take the private messaging systems of your online bank account or for your online healthcare portal - these are messaging systems separate from each other and your own personal messaging system. If these applications used CloudHaven, a single messaging system could be integrated into these applications very simply in the closed system of its UIaaS – and all of the message data remains within CloudHaven (reducing HIPAA and GDPR concerns for the healthcare application).


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