Networking 2.0, network everything

Colin Constable
8 min readAug 6


credit: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

Imagine for a moment a world where everything — people, entities, and things both virtual and real — have an address and where every address can communicate with every other address simply and safely, having full confidence of complete privacy.

In the not-too-distant future, my personal AI will talk to me as we are driving down Route 101. “Hey Colin, it’s 11AM, do you want a coffee?” I’ll reply, “I sure do! And I wonder if Jen can meet me?” “I’ll find out,” my AI will say. In the background, my AI will chat with Jen’s AI, which will pass the question along to Jen.

After talking to Jen’s AI, my AI will say, “Yup! Jen is looking forward to seeing you at Cup of Joe on Ellis at 11:15. Would you like for me to drive us there?” I’ll sit back and as we drive, my AI will ask the coffee shop’s AI to determine the wait time and make sure there is oat milk available for Jen’s coffee.

When we arrive at the coffee shop, my AI will tell me, “Jen will be here in two minutes and I have ordered coffee for you both.” I’ll pick up the coffees, and as I do, Jen will arrive. Now in my ear via my phone, my AI will ask, “Are you paying or shall we split the bill?” I’ll say, “My treat,” and it will reply, “All paid.”

Whilst this all sounds like science fiction, it’s not. AI’s are ironically the easier part, we all see AI talking and writing in human languages now and for sure they will talk together in human languages rather than IT technobabble.

This level of sophistication and seamless human/AI interaction with the world using the existing IT systems architectures is impossibly complex unless we take a different approach.

Networking 2.0 is this new approach. It is the simple and safe interconnection of any type of network — computer, telephone, financial, social, or application. It makes new, personalized experiences possible and creates trust between the people, organizations, and the things it connects.

Networking 2.0 reaches beyond the Internet, mutually connecting all the systems in place for both commerce and communication, and it puts people in control of it all. This foundational shift is incredibly powerful and brings with it previously unimaginable, almost magical, experiences for people, and also for the businesses we build, the organizations we create, and the ever-growing fleet of connected devices woven into our daily lives.

Together, we can bring to life these new, very human experiences, and not just when buying coffee — although that is very important as that is exactly what started these thoughts, a coffee between two friends in Sunnyvale, California a decade ago.

Networking 2.0 Principles and emergent properties

At the heart of Networking 2.0 is a set of three simple to understand principles:




Some of these were the objective of the early blockchain movement, Networking 2.0 is different. Providing, control and ownership of mutable data, with human friendly addresses, but still being distributed and open through open network protocols, with no need for consensus as everyone and everything owns their own data

At its highest level Networking 2.0 makes anything addressable, with clear data ownership and control, allows contextual responses, and is inherently private and cryptographically secure.

From these base principles, many emergent properties start to appear, some important ones I mention below but there will be others, of that there is no doubt.


Where it all begins

All networks have addresses: the Internet has IP addresses, email has email addresses, telephone networks have telephone numbers.

The simplest way to assert an identity on a network is with a unique string of characters, like a telephone number.

A Networking 2.0 address can contain other addresses so I can now have one address that connects all of my other network addresses and it will allow me to simply and safely connect to the various networks I am part of. My address is all anyone needs to know to reach me; a Networking 2.0 application can look up the underlying network address.

If my address is “@colin” then I have the same response for all of these inquiries:

What’s your phone number? — @colin

What’s your email? — @colin

What’s your work email? — @colin

What’s your bank account and routing number? — @colin

Spoiler: It is always @colin.

Networking 2.0 Addresses may be owned by people or organizations, and assigned to things like gateways, routers, connected devices, and sensors. Anything can be part of the Networking 2.0 network, so anything can now have an address and become addressable.


Cryptographically Safe

As the owner of @colin it is important that only I can control the data and decide who has access to it. Networking 2.0 requires that the owners of Networking 2.0 addresses ‘cut’ their own cryptographic keys. What this means is that only the holder of those keys can update information, and that data shared with others is end-to-end encrypted; no one in between can ever see that data. Infrastructure providers, developers, platform providers, and anyone else simply cannot see data unless it is explicitly shared with them by the owner of the address.


Who’s asking matters

Looking up “location@colin” could provide my exact location from the GPS of my mobile phone, but I am not sure I would be comfortable with that. Which brings us to the next important part of Networking 2.0: Context. In real life conversations with people, I may answer the same question differently depending on who is asking. There is some information that I don’t mind being public, and some that I would like to remain private, or to only share with a select few.

A public lookup of “location@colin” might return the answer, “California, USA.” However, if my wife looks up “location@colin” using her address of @sarah, she will see “my office.” Whilst I am traveling, I might like to temporarily share my exact GPS location to a mapping service, so I can get directions or find a local restaurant.

Businesses and other organizations also can offer differentiated services using a single address. For example, “sales@acme” could provide a contextual answer based on any number of variables from the querier, like location or language, or it could cross reference internal data like VIP status or existing relationship before giving back data, such as which email or phone number to use.

You can keep your privacy for things like your bank account and home address, only giving the full details to your bank or the postal service. If someone wants to mail something to me via the postal service then they could just address it to “@colin.” Only the postal service needs to know my full address. It’s the same with banking — only my bank needs to know which account I have, and banks along the way just need to know the next bank to send the payment to. New services are also easy to imagine. For example, if I am going to be out of town, then I could have my mail sent to my hotel. I own the data behind @colin, so I can update it at any time and the postal service can deliver and, if required, charge me accordingly.

This higher level of addressing makes AI integration possible, while maintaining privacy, and also makes human interactions with technology fun and useful.

Initial Emergent properties


A proof of trust

These new addresses can also provide attestations. Take for example a situation where you must provide proof of auto insurance. You purchase your auto insurance through Acme Insurance, and you’ve registered your Networking 2.0 address with them.

When someone asks you for proof of insurance, you give them your Networking 2.0 address, along with Acme Insurance’s Networking 2.0 address, and the inquiry “colin.insured@acmeinsurance” can be made. Acme would simply reply “Yes” or “No.” There is no need for any of the underlying data, like the account number, to be shared with the querier.

At times it would be advantageous to be accountable and yet anonymous, perhaps when buying a car. None of us want to be bombarded with ads for weeks after looking for a new car, but that is what happens today. Far better to be anonymous to the dealership and yet have a financial institution attest your credit worthiness, and you not have to play games with the dealership. They know you are a serious buyer but they do not know your personal details until perhaps they give you an offer you cannot refuse.


Connectivity without complexity

Today’s Internet is a technically complex domain where only experts can truly navigate efficiently. Networking 2.0 does rely on the Internet for connectivity and transport of data, and at the same time, it is accessible to anyone who can reach the Internet, no matter where they are, without requiring technologists to make network changes. In most situations this means inbound connections should be blocked and outgoing connections allowed. This is the typical set up for consumer networks and is increasingly common for campus networks.

As the underlying infrastructure of the Internet itself gets Networking 2.0 addresses, interactions get really interesting. Let’s say that I am on site at Acme Corp for the day. I can just ask @acme for internet access, prove that I am @colin, and then @charles who works at Acme can approve my request. No more IT complexity!

Networking 2.0 creates an intent interface for applications to interface Software Defined Networking with global scope and precise context.


No Spam or Junk

With the context of knowing who or what is asking before you have to accept or respond to requests, means the end of Networking 1.0 behavior that allows your peace to be disturbed, be it junk phone calls or spam email or postal mail.

As underlying networkings start using native Network 2.0 addresses, the idea of being able to send unwanted communication goes away. Cell Phones with phone numbers that can be called by anyone, email addresses that once public get bombarded with spam become a thing of the past.

Instead your AI or you see who is asking for what and you decide if your AI puts through the call, and if @carwwarranty gets too annoying then you can request the phone system does even allow the call to be made.

This in turn has a social effect, that companies selling had better behave responsibly, else their customers could choose to ignore them. On the other hand, if trusted companies could get data and offer services without being clandestine about how the service works.

Control plane

A Smarter Path

Every network needs to provide communication. We have seen the need for resolving addresses such as location@colin. To keep a map service updated with a second-by-second location, Networking 2.0 solutions also need a way to notify other addresses of updates. This allows for event-driven communication, rather than the predominant architecture of polling and constantly asking for data. Networking 2.0 provides a way to prove address ownership and to get critical data, such as encryption keys, in place before using application specific protocols on the underlying network, for example for real time communication or file transfers.


Networking 2.0 is inevitable, is already being implemented on networks today, and will revolutionize the way we and our AI helpers communicate and share information, with us, our things, and our networks.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. Or, meet us at our LinkedIn group to dig into the topic further. Join us there!



Colin Constable

Colin is a technologist with over 40 years of experience in the telecommunications and internet industries.