ideas for a bus / network that can be split with addressable slaves?

I am researching into the feasibility of an idea and was wondering if anybody could give me any suggestions.

In essence I will be controlling a load of leds. They will be on chains - similar to say shiftbrites.

However I need to find a solution to enable these chains to branch off, whilst still being able to address each individual node.

The following example is one chain:

/¯¯0¯¯¯¯¯0¯¯¯ /

other design considerations: full rgb control, high refresh rate, ~ 12" - 24" between nodes.

If you want address maybe i2c is the answer.

Power I was thinking I would just inject as necessary, not the best solution, but the only realistic one.

Design constraints are relatively loose, budget is an issue - but not one that will hold the project back (hopefully).

What solutions are you thinking of?

as Senso just mentioned i2c / blinkM style was something I was looking into - however my understanding is each node has to be pre-programmed with an address, not optimal, as I hope for a more plug and play system.

Nothing like this already exists, and it'll be pretty heavy on the CPU side of things to get all those paths sorted out. It really can only be done with an I2C-like interface, where each device has a unique address.