Planar waveguides and photonic crystal structures are being intensively investigated as primary solutions for integrated photonic devices. However, there may be an alternative approach to the manufacture of highly integrated optical devices with structural elements smaller than the wavelength, which nevertheless enable strong guidance and manipulation of light - the use of metallic and metallodielectric nanostructures and propagating plasmonpolanton waves. This approach is now branded as "the next big thing" in nanotechnology. Here we propose, for the first time, a research programme to investigate the basic principles of active nanoscale functional elements operating with surface plasmon-polanton signals. We will employ an original and revolutionary active control concept that will use structural transformations in the waveguide material to control the signals. The proposed solution takes advantage of the most characteristic features of surface plasmon-polantons, namely their localization in nanometer thick surface layers of metal, and the fact that their propagation is strongly dependent on the metal's dielectric properties. If successful, our approach could provide an alternative means of developing active integrated photonic (logic) circuits.