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Today's abundance of sensors and their wireless/wired networks, coupled with a growing plethora of applications, necessitate a dynamic approach to the assignment of tasks to a network. The current practice in WSN design is almost always application specific, due to functional and resource tradeoffs that have justified much of the tailored research done so far. Identifying this as a major bottleneck in WSN advancement, this paper presents a new paradigm which decouples applications from WSN architectures and protocols. This paradigm views the network as an abundance of connected resources (hence functionalities) to match requirements of applications (old and new) based on utilization and feasibility factors. We present an elaborate abstraction of network resources, with detailed description of its governing utility attributes. Then we describe the view of applications as an aggregation of functional requirements based on a given set of resources. The intermediate mapping between applications and resources is then solved by a reduced linear optimization formulation, to realize the system as a whole. The paradigm is further explained via a multiple-application scenario and its representation and operation under our paradigm.