The Hub was developed for the easy town story. The following summary draws on the ideas as presented in the story.
The Hub started as the easy town project’s own social media platform and has evolved into an internet within the internet.
The Hub features include everything social media has to offer, plus a search engine, communication tools, a book library, a cinema, a sound basement, an art gallery, a bank, a shopping mall and more.
‘So what is the Hub?’
‘It’s all social media in one castle,’ Noel proclaimed with pride. ‘Without the advertising or the data collecting. And you get to decide whether your castle is a simple two-dimensional space with just a phone booth to call your kids, or a three-dimensional palace with nearly endless rooms, halls, galleries and, for our friends like Daria, dungeons. And you can walk through each and all of them and pick up things as you stroll along.’
book 1, beginning, week 7
Hub users pay an equivalent of one euro a month in return for ad-free online services, full privacy, and full control over features, algorithms and designs.
Noel stood up and declared solemnly: ‘This, my friends, this is the end of big brother. This is the restoration of our privacy and of our self-determination. This is us, getting our lives back.’
book 1, beginning, week 1
The Hub offers localised features for towns and cities. This includes all town services, and special services for patients, students and tourists.
‘Talk me through it again.’
‘A person got a local job and wants to move to our town. First thing they do is register an account on the Hub. Not on the global Hub but our town Hub. Any town can have their own space on the Hub. As soon as the authenticity of the person as well as the job are confirmed, the town Hub offers our person flats or houses. Once a primary job and an accommodation are confirmed, the Hub basically does the rest of the administrative work: a new passport entry, connecting the new home to our micro grid, tax registration, healthcare registration, a local bank account and so on. The user can basically sit back and watch it all happen. And the user can add things like find me a group for morning workouts or a local band, or get me a registration with the local library and alert me to events at the party den, plus I want to join the green days for the town’s gardens, though I need some extra training for that, and so on …’
‘Sounds good. I’m curious whether it will work.’
‘We will make it work. Besides, it’s another step to giving people back full control over their data. Everything about the user is saved in an encrypted vault, and without the users permission no one has access.’
‘How much will the town Hub cost the user?’
‘I’ve run a few simulations. It really depends on the size of the town, and how much we can automate. The larger the town the lower the costs for the individual user. And there is the open question of how we will deal with taxes. Will taxes be randomly used to pay for admin costs, or do we charge the town Hub users whichever costs they actually incur?’
‘Which would mean people know what their payments are used for, and they would pay lower taxes. Yep, still my favoured direction.’
notes for book 3, shaping
Around the world, Hub Stations maintain the Hub network, and the stations include facilities for education, health, art and businesses in order to support the local communities.
For Jack this was the first time he saw a Hub Station and the first time he fully grasped the idea: leave the Hub maintenance to a local team, and use some of the incoming money to extent the Hub Station into a centre for training, workspaces, services and arts. And do so in an area that needs jobs and places where people can come together.
book 2/1, travelling, Australia
Around the world, the Hub acknowledges past and present injustices and neglect.
Back in June, the Hub Developers Team, the Hub Executive Team and Alice decided to acknowledge past injustices by giving indigenous tribes priority for the locations and for the management of the next Hub Stations.
book 2/1, travelling, San Francisco
The Hub Developer Team comprises 777 developers from around the world, with near gender parity and a balanced age structure.
‘Seven hundred and seventy-six sounds like a lot,’ Daria said, ‘but someone who wanted a job on the Hub Team needed at least three verified programmers who’d vouch for the newcomer. And we checked whether the programmers in question code reliably, clean and without any shenanigans. And whether they agree with what we stand for. We also made sure that we have near parity between the genders—’
‘To tell the truth,’ Noel interrupted with a wink, ‘you are unbalancing the balance. Besides, we got programmers from every corner of the world and from nearly all age groups, the youngest being impressive and fourteen, something of a reverse Daria, dark complexion and always dressed in white, and the oldest, eighty-four, who’s something of a programming Roger. I don’t know what it is with old guys, these deep rolling voices. But his code— First class.’
book 1, beginning, week 7
The Hub is international and independent.