Vision

We are developing iconet, an Internet protocol for interconnectivity of social networks. Users of interconnected networks can choose their application and platform individually and at the same time stay connected with all their contacts.

Our vision is to create a constructive online environment through digital self-determination of its users. Since a large part of communication takes place online, this is a basic prerequisite for an intact society - not only online, but also offline. How interconnectivity of social networks forms the foundation for this, is explained here.

Definition - Interconnectivity

Iconet stands for „interconnective networks“ and describes an Internet architecture which makes it possible to link different social platforms.

This allows users of different networks to interact freely with each other without having to use the same social media service. „Interconnectivity“ thus refers to the interlinking of platforms.

What our interconnectivity means:
Direct and immediate linking between contacts
What our interconnectivity does NOT mean:
A crowded and chaotic super-platform

Architecture

Without interconnectivity

Imagine you are using app A and your best friend is using app B. Currently, there is no way to exchange messages between these two different apps. To make contact, one person would have to switch to the other app.
Legende Application Platform

With interconnectivity

With iconet, every user can choose any app they want and feel comfortable with. At the same time, everyone has their own general inbox, through which messages can be received from all their contacts and any content will be displayed correctly. Thus, it is possible to decide about the infrastructure and the way of data storage and still stay fully connected with your contacts without changing the app or installing a new one. This way, it is possible for everyone to individually decide on their infrastructure and type of data storage and still remain fully connected with their contacts without having to change the app or install a new one.
1 2 3 Legende Application User-Host Platform

To sum it up, here are all the differences between the conventional and the iconet architecture:

In the current, conventional system the platforms are in control of:
  • how the applications are designed and what functionalities are offered
  • what type of content is presented to the users and through which algorithms it is selected
  • where their data is stored and how it is processed
  • which monetization methods are applied (e.g., advertisements)
If users want to interact with any contact, groups or communities within a platform, they only can do that by joining the platform themselves. They then do not have any choice on the aspects above.
With iconet the responsibilities are split between three different component types, provided by independent vendors, from which the users can freely choose from:
  • applications with different functionalities and designs
  • different data storage models, which keep their personal data safe
  • different platforms and networks, with various ways to interact, to meet new people and explore new content
With this freedom of choice, users can shape their online experience exactly how they want it to be. Additionally, because of that, providers will have to participate in a much more honest market, valuing the interests of their customers more than profiting off of them.

How can you imagine this as a user?

Desktop and phone
The application is the program that is installed on the user's device. It determines which contents are displayed and which functionalities and actions are possible. The app is therefore the component with the greatest influence on the user's behavior.
Currently, there is only one access point to the networks of major providers: One application with the same functions for all users. With iconet, every user can choose an application according to their needs. To illustrate this, we present three archetypes of users:

Alex – Pragmatic Guy

Alex values privacy and convenience. He does not want a flood of data, but simply wants to write with his contacts. Alex chooses a minimalistic user interface with accessible consistent design. It contains only the essential aspects of a messenger, no timeline or feed. His need for security is met as he is only connected to people he trusts. To interact with his acquaintances, he only needs one app.

Laila - Power User

Alex values privacy and convenience. He does not want a flood of data, but simply wants to write with his contacts. Alex chooses a minimalistic user interface with accessible consistent design. It contains only the essential aspects of a messenger, no timeline or feed. His need for security is met as he is only connected to people he trusts. To interact with his acquaintances, he only needs one app.
6 7 9

Valery - Content Creator

Alex values privacy and convenience. He does not want a flood of data, but simply wants to write with his contacts. Alex chooses a minimalistic user interface with accessible consistent design. It contains only the essential aspects of a messenger, no timeline or feed. His need for security is met as he is only connected to people he trusts. To interact with his acquaintances, he only needs one app.
9 1 7

Characteristics of iconet

digital self-determination
self-determined data storage
persistent general inbox
decentral
platform independent connections
free choice of application
Self-determined data storage:
Every user has the possibility to decide where their data is stored and who has access to it. Options can be centralized, decentralized or even self-hosted open source servers or open source with various degrees of privacy.
Persistent general inbox:
Independently from their chosen platform, users are provided with a general inbox where they can receive everything that is send to them from their contacts from different and platforms.
Decentral:
Users can act independently from monopolistic global players and do not rely solely on the platform they offer to stay in contact with their friends.
Platform independent connections:
Users are able to interconnect with other users independently of what platform they are using.
Free choice of application:
Everyone can choose an application tailored to their needs and conceptions without being influenced by the network effect and the underlying profit-oriented mechanisms.

From the network effect to digital self-determination

Interconnective social networks eliminate the so-called network effect. This refers to the phenomenon that users, in order to stay in touch with their friends, are tied to the most popular application, regardless of whether they like using it. Interconnectivity gives users the freedom to switch to other applications and still stay connected to all their contacts. This leads to digital self-determination. For more on digital self-determination, see the next level of the pyramid.

How can users choose their individual social network?

Without interconnectivity
  • Which application do most of my contacts use?
With interconnectivity
  • What content do I want to see?
  • How do I want to interact online?
  • What do I want to happen with my data?

Definition - Digital Self-determination

Digital self-determination means that each person has the freedom of choice to shape their online experience exactly how they want it. This applies to the content and design of an application as well as to the server options and types of data storage.

Through iconet, everyone is free to choose what works best for them without losing their connection to their own contacts. This makes it possible to act in a digitally self-determined manner, independent of global players and monopolies.

Decision criteria for choosing a social network

The reasons and decision criteria for choosing a specific network are very individual and depend on certain needs and requirements. Perhaps you will identify one or more decision criteria in this selection that are important to you as well.
Networking form
Protection of minors
Simplicity
Privacy
Monetization
What would happen if everyone suddenly became digitally self-determined? You can find out more about this in the next level of the pyramid.

On the current online environment

The current online environment poses various problems such as targeting users' emotions and attention to maximize consumption and profit as well as insufficient privacy protection. If you want to learn more about these problems first, you can find some info here: Social Media and the Realms of Addictive Behavior

Implications of digital self-determination

1
To overcome the toxic mechanisms of the current online environment, social change is necessary, starting from individual pioneers. By being able to freely choose their application, users are able to use apps that avoid features that promote addictive behavior for profit-oriented reasons. This trend may spread to society as a whole.
2
Digital self-determination leads to increased competition by opening the market for alternative applications, which improves the user experience across platforms. Users with special requirements can thus use applications that are specifically tailored to their needs or offer a modular range of functions.
3
The culture of online communication and debate can also change dramatically, shifting to technologies that promote understanding instead of hate, advocate content instead of propaganda, and encourage media literacy instead of assuming it. So, if everyone had the ability to individually choose the features they prefer and expect from a particular platform, those that are best for users (and not for profit) would prevail.
At the top of the pyramid, you will find out how this relates to current social problems.

Solutions to current social challenges

Iconet initiates the solution of three main problems of our contemporary society:

Misinformation

A responsible information environment is more relevant than ever to solve the challenges of our time, such as anthropogenic climate change. Here, information technologies have the responsibility to provide a constructive environment instead of promoting misinformation and thus radicalization of different parties.

Monopolization

Who decides how we communicate and live? Currently, mainly one company has the power to form the structure of our online communication. In a democratic society, such centering of power is neither desirable nor justifiable. It is therefore necessary to create more decentralization and prevent monopolization.

Media addiction

According to recent studies, more than 210 million people worldwide suffer from internet and social media addiction, and a large proportion of users report spending significantly more time on the Internet than they would actually like to.. In order to address and fight this pattern of addictive behavior, which has become more and more a part of reality, it is necessary to create alternatives to the current attention economy. So that social media can become „just“ a useful tool again.