Phil Windley on Personal Event Networks

Phil Windley has a new post called Personal Event Networks: Building the Internet of Things. The idea is simple but highly compelling: what if the range of products and services you used could actually talk to each other, over the net, on your behalf? Technically this talking is known as “raising events”, i.e., being able to notify each other that something important has happened.

A simple example is your car telling your calendar that you are due for an oil change. Or your calendar being able to tell your home thermostat that you are going to be away for the weekend — thus saving you from having to manually tell it to save the heat (when was the last time you remembered to do that?)

Many things become possible if your personal network of devices, products, and services can safely talk to each other in ways they can all understand. That’s what Phil is promoting through a simple event interface. It dovetails wonderfully with the two main thrusts of my work over the past several years:

  1. Connect.Me and the Respect Trust Framework is about building a strong, socially-verified web of trust so the different devices, products, and services in your personal event network can trust each other — and even more importantly trust the personal event networks of your family, friends, and co-workers. (The total value of a personal event network goes up exponentially with the number of other personal event networks it can be safely connected to.)
  2. XDI is developing the semantic data sharing protocol that will give all the devices, products, and services on your personal event network a common language in which to speak to each other. XDI is perfect for eventing because, although it works fine for request-response interactions, it does not require them. Instead, XDI messages can also use the publish/subscribe model needed by an event network– and in fact XDI link contracts are ideal for dynamically defining subscriptions and sharing rights.

Phil is writing a book called The Live Web, and I’m hoping that personal event networks will play a key role in explaining the power the Live Web will bring.