Bring all your devices together and create secure networks between them so you can access your data wherever you are
Expand and develop your own personal infrastructure by installing applications into it through an app store for the cloud
Take full advantage of your part of the cloud with robust Open Source software and without compromising your online destiny
We’re creating software infrastructure to put users back in control of their digital lives.
The internet has become such a huge part of our daily lives to the extent that it’s difficult to imagine a world without information and connectivity (literally) at your fingertips. Collaboration is easier, communication simpler and generally work is more productive. However, we’ve also made sacrifices in order to achieve these gains, in many cases without fully comprehending the risks.
By adopting large centralised services we’ve answered the call of the siren servers and made an implicit trade. That we will share our habits and data with them in exchange for something useful. In doing so we’ve empowered internet behemoths while simultaneously reducing our ability to influence them. We risk becoming slaves to the current system unless we can create alternatives that compete. It’s time to work on those alternatives.
Our approach is to create secure, robust and open-source infrastructure that others can build on. Security and privacy need to be incorporated from the ground up so that promises of “your data is safe with us” can be kept by the technology itself. In some cases, this means taking existing tools and technologies and making them much easier to use and deploy. In other cases, it may mean rebuilding tools and creating new products to replace those that are no longer fit for purpose.
We are starting with mechanisms to provide identity and connectivity for your personal cloud of devices as well as the mechanisms to keep data in sync across them. You can find more detail about those in our software section and get involved in the actual code and discussions by joining the Nymote developer mailing list.
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There are two areas we need to work on to allow us to regain the freedoms we’ve lost. The first of these is to create the appropriate infrastructure that incorporates good security and is distributed in nature. These tools will form the bedrock on which we can then build robust and scalable applications, that provide all the great things we are used to but without requiring us to be subject to the whims of the Internet Barons.
The underlying building blocks are a crucial piece of the puzzle. We need robust and open-source tools that allow us to create distributed systems that anyone can build on. These tools are the bedrock on which we will create the next generation of products. They deal with the issues of deployment, synchronisation and connectivity.
Most applications that run in the cloud aren’t optimised to do so.
They inherently carry assumptions about the underlying operating
system with them, including vulnerabilities and bloat.
Mirage represents an approach where only the
necessary components are included, allowing for highly efficient and
extremely lean ‘appliances’. These can be deployed in
environments ranging from Amazon’s EC2 to the Raspberry Pi.
(more about mirage)
Having multiple devices has made the engineering effort around data
persistence and sync more complex. We have to concern ourselves about
how data obtained for one device is made available and useful to
others, without losing history. Irmin is a new
kind of library database, based on the principles of Git (the version
control system), meaning that all history can be kept and moved
between devices with ease.
(more about irmin)
The cloud is a (mostly) always available service that can be seen by
all devices. Without this, it is difficult for individual devices to
find each other. Signpost is building “personal
cloud” infrastructure to let your devices all see each and reach
each other without requiring any complex configuration. Once all your
devices can find each other, regardless of location, you effectively
have your own little internet.
(more about signpost)
With the new infrastructure, we are able to build robust applications that will push towards a more decentralised web and empower new kinds of innovation and exploration. Building on the right foundations, means the core aspects of connectivity and syncing between devices will already be accounted for so the focus can shift to functionality and extensibility.
One of the most fundamental and ubiquitous tools we have is email. In order to completely own your digital presence, we must first be able to easily manage and control our own email communications. At the moment, it's simply too difficult for an individual to run their own email server but there's no reason it can't be simplified. With email servers that work for small groups, like families or friends, we can begin to see routes to new email innovation, where developers can write software that interacts directly with the server to enhance email in ways we cannot right now.
Our address books have the potential to be the ultimate social network.The data contained within is so valuable that services clamour for access to it, sometimes even taking it without your knowledge. It's unfortunate that the that only innovation the humble address book has seen is via third parties who want to gain control of it and put ads in front of you. An alternative would be to re-imagine your personal address book and make it the core of your online social interactions. This way, we can incorporate your private data to enhance other services without losing ownership.
Our diaries are the often overlooked part of the trio yet many of us would be lost without proper device synchronisation. This only becomes more complex the more devices we have and the more we interact with others. Party invites coming in via social networks and meetings being organised via work all need to find their way to one place, while occasionally letting your partner know when you're likely to be free. Many services have attempted to solve specific pieces of these problems but it's the integration with your Mail, Contacts and other services which will unleash more productivity.
Building lightweight, secure and highly scalable systems, specifically geared to live on the cloud is not a trivial undertaking. Even though it’s possible to string together something quick with existing tools, they're ultimately limited since they lack the necessary security considerations. To build resilient and distributed systems of this kind requires deep expertise in the areas of networking, distributed software and the cloud.
Many skilled contributors, listed below, are putting time into the open- source components to provide the core requirements of identity, connectivity and data storage.
Nymote brings these components together into a cohesive platform, led by Drs. Anil Madhavapeddy, Amir Chaudhry and Prof. Jon Crowcroft FRS.