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Concept by Sheldon Renan, related to a kind of 'p2p' metaphysics.


Sheldon Renan:


All things want to be connected — because the more things are connected the better they work. Now the scale and intimacy of connectivity is increasing (accelerating) at a scary rate. We don't see it, but we do sense it. The term "netness" characterizes our new state-of-being as connectivity becomes increasingly ubiquitous, our lives increasingly "entangled."

Recognizing netness leads to recognizing this simple principle: connectivity is the most important enabler of creating of new value. Forget Moore's Law. It is extending connectivity across and beyond networks that increases knowledge, safety, collaboration and (critical for eCommers) access to new models and markets.

Limit connectivity and you limit opportunity. Connect the unconnected and you hugely improve odds for success. Netness offers a powerful conceptual tool for guiding innovation and governance going forward."


"1. everything wants to be connected (or at least to be able to "converse" frictionlessly on an ad hoc basis)

2. the more things are connected (able to communicate) the better things work.

3. as connectivity becomes ubiquitous, systems (networks) become fields... connectivity fields...

4. a new class or state of connectivity is emerging which i've been calling "entangled" (many threaded, loosely but deeply connected) as in entangled conversations, lives, communities, networks...

5. as networks become fields, as lives and things become entangled, two worlds > the world of atoms and the world of bits < become one, greatly enhancing future opportunity and potential capability of all participants

6. the ability to connect, coordinate, collaborate and share easily everywhere on an ad hoc basis is now replacing Moore's Law as the most important source of opportunity."


From an extended treatment in the Cook Report, Volume XIX, No. 10 January 2011: “Netness” or Renanʼs Law. The Debut of a Unifying Paradigm that Goes Beyond Networks. Pre Publication Draft.

SHELDON RENAN: “Netness” is a new way of looking at connectivity – of understanding how connectivity is changing. It is about this new world in which all points, people, things and domains are increasingly connected. And it is about an emerging model for optimizing connectivity and its opportunity -- in which networks are supplanted (basically absorbed) by increasingly ubiquitous fabrics and fields of connectivity.

As connectivity becomes decoupled from the network, as we remove limits on what can be connected new opportunity is generated.

The rules of connectedness are being reshaped by three trends.

  • The explosive growth in the number, variety, and distribution of chips.
  • The multiplying means by which those chips can be linked.
  • The growing ease with which many different things connect and communicate.

With every day that passes, we observe more things becoming more connected in more ways. And this is happening much faster than most of us realize.

Connectivity is accelerating simultaneously in multiple vectors, while most of us watch only one or two. Network professionals (including some on the COOK Report Arch – Econ discussion list) are focused on keeping networks working and safe. Many have told me netness – of ubiquitous connectivity – is an impractical vision.

But I heard AT&T’s Chief Security Officer, Ed Amoroso speaking at Gartner’s 2004 IT Security Summit about the growing impossibility of limiting connectivity. He said, “Look, 10 years ago we couldn’t get different networks to connect. And today we can’t stop them from connecting.”

We have to recognize that connectivity is changing and also we need to understand how connectivity is changing. Because if we understand it, and we recognize it, I believe we will evolve to a new kind of connectivity that is more abundant, more available, and more reliable. This “superconnectivity” will provide a whole new level of services. I’m not talking about faster speeds, or bigger bandwidths, or a better way to download HD movies. I’m talking about what we-as-a-species will require – a new digital infrastructure for knowledge-creation and sharing, collaboration and coordination – if we are going to get through the next hundred years.

In September 2010, I was at a conference where a senior executive of Verizon suggested that conversations about internet communications had too much of a “religious” tone. She said that the discussion was not about religion. It was about business models. I totally disagree. The discussion needs to be about what we can do to get ready for the challenges ahead. By focusing on business models, the big companies are destroying the kind of connectivity we will need. The good news is that we can see netness happening anyway.

Netness is essentially an emerging phenomena. And it comes with new principles to help us understand and leverage what is happening.

The first is that everything wants to be connected.

The second is that the more things are connected, the better things work. Things become safer. Things become smarter.

COOK Report: Things? What kind of things?

SHELDON RENAN: Things. Everything. Devices and tools and vehicles. People and families and communities. Companies. Countries! The more everything is connected, the better everything works. Increasing connectivity increases access to information, access to resources. So the more things are connected, in effect, the smarter things become. The more things are connected, the safer people are as well -- including the people we care most about). The more things are connected, the more competitive and successful communities and organizations will be.

It seems simple. As the digital fabric of ubiquitous connectivity grows, it offers more ways for things to connect, more paths for participants to cooperate and collaborate.

But this is not trivial. Connectivity is growing virtually everywhere, in parallel, along multiple vectors. The number of connectable points is exploding, (although most are not connected.) The number of networks is multiplying, (although most are limited in their ability to talk to other networks.) The reach, the frequency (how often things connect), and most of all, the intimacy of connections is growing and accelerating.

We aren’t aware of the degree to which connectivity is changing, because we live our lives looking straight ahead. We are focused on, invested in and committed to our own networks, our own silos. We don’t consider what is going on laterally, in other parallel areas. We don’t notice the degree to which all these different change factors are coming together – are “confluencing.”

The accumulating effect of all the changes in the quantity and quality of connectedness is beginning to change our lives. It is literally transforming the experience of living. I believe that netness – this new hyper-connectedness – will define the difference between how we have lived in the past and how we will live in the future.

COOK Report: How is that different from what Bob Metcalfe and David Reed say about networks – Metcalfe’s Law, for example? I have heard a number of people say that Renan’s netness is essentially just Metcalfe’s Law.

RENAN: Metcalfe’s Law and Reed’s Law are talking about net-works. I’m talking about net-ness. We all honor Metcalfe and Reed for their pioneering work in recognizing and quantifying the new value that networks create. Pretty much everybody on your Economics of IP Architecture list is focused on networks. And for good reason. We now live in The Age of Networks.

But the network giveth and the network taketh away. Networks are also used to deny access -- to restrict and sub-optimize connectivity – to break openness and obstruct competition. We shouldn’t be focusing only on the network. The greater opportunity is to think in terms of connectivity itself. How can we increase and accelerate connectivity? How can we democratize and optimize connectivity -- so that the world works better tomorrow than it works today? That’s what netness is about. COOK Report: But I assume netness doesn’t exclude networks and network effects.

RENAN: Networks and network effects are certainly part of netness. But they are not the whole story or the end of the journey. The age of networks is a “stage” as much as an age. The really good stuff begins as we move to “the post-network age”.

More Information

See the related entry on Virtuous Systems