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Novel user-oriented networked systems will simultaneously exploit a variety of wired and wireless communication modalities to offer different levels of quality of service (QoS), including reliability and security to users, low economic cost, and performance. Within a single such user-oriented network, different connections themselves may differ from each other with respect to QoS needs. Similarly, the communication infrastructure used by such a network will, in general, be shared among many different networks and users so that the resources available will fluctuate over time, both on the long and short term. Such a user-oriented network will not usually have precise information about the infrastructure it is using at any given instant of time, so that its knowledge should be acquired from online observations. Thus, we suggest that user-oriented networks should exploit self-adaptiveness to try to obtain the best possible QoS for all their connections. In this paper we review experiments which illustrate how "self-awareness," through online self-monitoring and measurement, coupled with intelligent adaptive behavior in response to observations, can be used to offer user-oriented QoS. Our presentation is based on ongoing experimental work with several "cognitive packet network" testbeds that we have developed.