Nostr Allows Bitcoiners To Build-Out A Decentralized, CENSORSHIP-RESISTANT Social-Media!!
Apps built on Nostr may become the open-source, decentralized social layer of the Internet while collaborating with bitcoin becoming the decentralized payment layer. Nostr Allows Bitcoiners To Build-Out A Decentralized, CENSORSHIP-RESISTANT Social-Media!!
It’s early days, but Nostr is perhaps one of the highest-potential ways for the Internet to evolve away from government and corporate control — and towards a more decentralized future.
Nostr Is The Decentralized Protocol That Might Replace Elon Musk’s Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta (Facebook).
The race to replace Twitter is on. The American culture war rages eternal on the platform and consumes the attention of most of its key stakeholders (but perhaps not all users).
Elon Musk, who wants to build a “Super App like oft-surveiled WeChat” may be a heroic figure for some, but the reality is that an arbiter of any kind who goes in and is able to suspend or ban somebody from a platform at their whim can’t be seen to uphold free speech.
By forbidding the placement of alternative services (and at one point banning those that promoted alternatives like Mastodon), Elon has not given strong signs that anything will change for the better — just that Twitter’s ownership team now plays for the other team of a tiresome, monocultural flame war.
It’s also no surprise for those that have been following him across social media platforms including “Chinese Twitter” Weibo that Elon’s stance for absolute free speech is correlated to his industrial interests.
After all, in the United States, there is room for some furor through speech— in fact, there may be political gain once you decide to latch onto one camp or another.
Yet, in authoritarian states that quash even the smallest sign of dissent, Elon is surprisingly docile. His speech follows his money, not his principles.
This isn’t about just Elon either. It’s not like the previous caretakers were that much more scrupulous about how they managed their service with similar incentives.
One can make their own conclusions, but in reading through previous archives of Twitter emails, there did seem to be thinly disguised bias against patterns of political thought.
Fundamentally, this isn’t a problem of the agent in charge of platform X or Y, but rather the system itself which relies on agents (or really the very idea of agency itself) that aren’t reliable to police the system and to profit from it.
Yet — where is the alternative to Twitter? Is it Mastodon, a series of federated servers, decentralized in its own way — yet vulnerable to server owners imposing their will? Or some other network — or better yet, protocol?
Nostr is is an entry with potential when it comes to that protocol. Open source at its core and using a peer and private key/public key system (similar to bitcoin) with Schnorr signatures to authenticate users, it allows for a decentralized hosting of social media.
The first apps being built upon this layer show some promise — even if user engagement is just building at the beginning.
The challenge of a social network has never been really that on the technical level. People don’t join a social network because of how many users a server can support, but rather the users and content that shows up there.
It’s a social problem above all else — something well-known to anybody who has built their version of Twitter at a hackathon (though sadly populated by nothing but ghosts of the creator).
The Nostr protocol is very simple technically: it uses relays to host and communicate public key information, and a series of clients built on the protocol for people to be able to broadcast from a public key.
Developers rally around Telegram to build features. The Nostr protocol uses a series of NIPs to define the fundamentals of the network, with the data structure at core a simple “event” JSON.
While the technology is quite simple (dubbed “smart client, dumb relay”), the way events are communicated allows for the “possibility” of the first truly decentralized social network — with perhaps one of Nostr’s clients grabbing a critical mass of users and content.
Different clients exist on Nostr, from the aptly named Apple Damus client to Nvote, a Hacker News/Reddit clone. There are Twitter-like clients and Telegram-like ones too.
The underlying Nostr protocol code is open-source and published on Github. Another Github repository offers resources so that people can understand the protocol and run a relay if they desire — or access different clients.
Nostr developers have envisioned adding bitcoin and Lightning Network in order to help relays with denial-of-service attacks — already, sites like NVote require a Lightning payment in order to change your username. You can already tip Nostr users in bitcoin.
Apps built on Nostr may become the decentralized social layer of the Internet while collaborating with bitcoin becoming the decentralized payment layer. It’s early days, but Nostr is perhaps one of the highest-potential ways for the Internet to evolve away from government and corporate control — and towards a more decentralized future.
Nostr – Notes And Other Stuff Transmitted By Relays
The simplest open protocol that is able to create a censorship-resistant global “social” network once and for all.
It doesn’t rely on any trusted central server, hence it is resilient; it is based on cryptographic keys and signatures, so it is tamperproof; it does not rely on P2P techniques, therefore it works.
Very Short Summary Of How It Works, If You Don’t Plan To Read Anything Else:
Everybody runs a client. It can be a native client, a web client, etc. To publish something, you write a post, sign it with your key and send it to multiple relays (servers hosted by someone else, or yourself). To get updates from other people, you ask multiple relays if they know anything about these other people.
Anyone can run a relay. A relay is very simple and dumb. It does nothing besides accepting posts from some people and forwarding to others. Relays don’t have to be trusted. Signatures are verified on the client side.
This Is Needed Because Other Solutions Are Broken:
The Problem With Twitter
* Twitter Has Ads;
* Twitter Uses Bizarre Techniques To Keep You Addicted;
* Twitter Doesn’t Show An Actual Historical Feed From People You Follow;
* Twitter Bans People;
* Twitter Shadowbans People.
* Twitter Has A Lot Of Spam.
The Problem With Mastodon And Similar Programs
User identities are attached to domain names controlled by third-parties;
Server owners can ban you, just like Twitter; Server owners can also block other servers;
Migration between servers is an afterthought and can only be accomplished if servers cooperate. It doesn’t work in an adversarial environment (all followers are lost);
There are no clear incentives to run servers, therefore they tend to be run by enthusiasts and people who want to have their name attached to a cool domain. Then, users are subject to the despotism of a single person, which is often worse than that of a big company like Twitter, and they can’t migrate out;
Since servers tend to be run amateurishly, they are often abandoned after a while — which is effectively the same as banning everybody;
It doesn’t make sense to have a ton of servers if updates from every server will have to be painfully pushed (and saved!) to a ton of other servers. This point is exacerbated by the fact that servers tend to exist in huge numbers, therefore more data has to be passed to more places more often;
For the specific example of video sharing, ActivityPub enthusiasts realized it would be completely impossible to transmit video from server to server the way text notes are, so they decided to keep the video hosted only from the single instance where it was posted to, which is similar to the Nostr approach.
The Problem With SSB (Secure Scuttlebutt)
It doesn’t have many problems. I think it’s great. In fact, I was going to use it as a basis for this, but
It insists on having a chain of updates from a single user, which feels unnecessary to me and something that adds bloat and rigidity to the thing — each server/user needs to store all the chain of posts to be sure the new one is valid. Why? (Maybe they have a good reason);
It is not as simple as Nostr, as it was primarily made for P2P syncing, with “pubs” being an afterthought;
Still, it may be worth considering using SSB instead of this custom protocol and just adapting it to the client-relay server model, because reusing a standard is always better than trying to get people in a new one.
The Problem With Other Solutions That Require Everybody To Run Their Own Server
They require everybody to run their own server;
Sometimes people can still be censored in these because domain names can be censored.
How Does Nostr work?
There are two components: clients and relays. Each user runs a client. Anyone can run a relay.
Every user is identified by a public key. Every post is signed. Every client validates these signatures.
Clients fetch data from relays of their choice and publish data to other relays of their choice. A relay doesn’t talk to another relay, only directly to users.
For example, to “follow” someone a user just instructs their client to query the relays it knows for posts from that public key.
On startup, a client queries data from all relays it knows for all users it follows (for example, all updates from the last day), then displays that data to the user chronologically.
A “post” can contain any kind of structured data, but the most used ones are going to find their way into the standard so all clients and relays can handle them seamlessly.
How Does It SolveTthe Problems The Networks Above Can’t?
Users Getting Banned And Servers Being Closed
A relay can block a user from publishing anything there, but that has no effect on them as they can still publish to other relays. Since users are identified by a public key, they don’t lose their identities and their follower base when they get banned.
Instead of requiring users to manually type new relay addresses (although this should also be supported), whenever someone you’re following posts a server recommendation, the client should automatically add that to the list of relays it will query.
If someone is using a relay to publish their data but wants to migrate to another one, they can publish a server recommendation to that previous relay and go;
If someone gets banned from many relays such that they can’t get their server recommendations broadcasted, they may still let some close friends know through other means with which relay they are publishing now. Then, these close friends can publish server recommendations to that new server, and slowly, the old follower base of the banned user will begin finding their posts again from the new relay.
All of the above is valid too for when a relay ceases its operations.
Each user can publish their updates to any number of relays.
A relay can charge a fee (the negotiation of that fee is outside of the protocol for now) from users to publish there, which ensures censorship-resistance (there will always be some Russian server willing to take your money in exchange for serving your posts).
If spam is a concern for a relay, it can require payment for publication or some other form of authentication, such as an email address or phone, and associate these internally with a pubkey that then gets to publish to that relay — or other anti-spam techniques, like hashcash or captchas. If a relay is being used as a spam vector, it can easily be unlisted by clients, which can continue to fetch updates from other relays.
For the network to stay healthy, there is no need for hundreds of active relays. In fact, it can work just fine with just a handful, given the fact that new relays can be created and spread through the network easily in case the existing relays start misbehaving. Therefore, the amount of data storage required, in general, is relatively less than Mastodon or similar software.
Or considering a different outcome: one in which there exist hundreds of niche relays run by amateurs, each relaying updates from a small group of users. The architecture scales just as well: data is sent from users to a single server, and from that server directly to the users who will consume that. It doesn’t have to be stored by anyone else. In this situation, it is not a big burden for any single server to process updates from others, and having amateur servers is not a problem.
Video And Other Heavy Content
It’s easy for a relay to reject large content, or to charge for accepting and hosting large content. When information and incentives are clear, it’s easy for the market forces to solve the problem.
Techniques To Trick The User
Each client can decide how to best show posts to users, so there is always the option of just consuming what you want in the manner you want — from using an AI to decide the order of the updates you’ll see to just reading them in chronological order.
This Is Very Simple. Why Hasn’t Anyone Done It Before?
I don’t know, but I imagine it has to do with the fact that people making social networks are either companies wanting to make money or P2P activists who want to make a thing completely without servers. They both fail to see the specific mix of both worlds that Nostr uses.
How Do I Find People To Follow?
First, you must know them and get their public key somehow, either by asking or by seeing it referenced somewhere. Once you’re inside a Nostr social network you’ll be able to see them interacting with other people and then you can also start following and interacting with these others.
How Do I Find Relays? What Happens If I’m Not Connected To The Same Relays Someone Else Is?
You won’t be able to communicate with that person. But there are hints on events that can be used so that your client software (or you, manually) knows how to connect to the other person’s relay and interact with them. There are other ideas on how to solve this too in the future but we can’t ever promise perfect reachability, no protocol can.
Can I Know How Many People Are Following Me?
No, but you can get some estimates if relays cooperate in an extra-protocol way.
What Incentive Is There For People To Run Relays?
The question is misleading. It assumes that relays are free dumb pipes that exist such that people can move data around through them. In this case yes, the incentives would not exist. This in fact could be said of DHT nodes in all other p2p network stacks: what incentive is there for people to run DHT nodes?
Nostr Enables You To Move Between Server Relays Or Use Multiple Relays But If These Relays Are Just On AWS Or Azure What’s The Difference?
There are literally thousands of VPS providers scattered all around the globe today, there is not only AWS or Azure. AWS or Azure are exactly the providers used by single centralized service providers that need a lot of scale, and even then not just these two. For smaller relay servers any VPS will do the job very well.
Jack Dorsey Gives Decentralized Social Network Nostr 14 BTCt In Funding
Jack Dorsey gave about 14 BTC, or about 245,000 dollars, to support Notes and Other Stuff Transmitted by Relays, Nostr development.
Regarding a blog post where Jack Dorsey expressed his opinions on the necessity for a native internet protocol for social media, Koty Auditore urged Dorsey to sponsor Nostr after it was revealed that he will give $1 million per year to the private messaging app Signal.
Two hours after the tweet was sent, Dorsey responded, saying he was
About a day later, he transferred money to developer fiatjaf.An open protocol called Nostr seeks to build an international social network impervious to censorship. The protocol runs clients that are run by each user rather than a trusted central server. Users of this client create posts, sign them with their private keys, and send them to other servers, which then distribute the content. The relays are straightforward; they are responsible for receiving posts and distributing them to relay participants.
For Twitter to evolve past its founders, Dorsey co-founded the firm in 2006 and left on November 29, 2021. He continued to serve as the CEO of Block, an organization whose portfolio companies are committed to promoting economic empowerment. Since he left Twitter, the now-Elon Musk-owned business has had some difficulties, leading some users to look for alternatives like Urbit and Mastodon.
Do you see Jack Dorsey making the similar impact he made on Twitter on Nostr? Kindly share your thoughts with us in the comments section.
One of Nostr’s core developers, William Casarin, also shared some frustration on his personal Twitter account, stating that it would be a “shame” if Apple users couldn’t use Nostr natively.
While the exact partnership between Dorsey and Nostr isn’t known, the billionaire entrepreneur sent over 14 BTC — worth about $250,000 at the time — in mid-December to help the Nostr developer team.
While the news appeared to have increased awareness of the application amongst the Bitcoin community, other high-profile figures have tested out the Damus app too.
Amongst those include Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden and pro-crypto U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis.
One of the cool things about Nostr (“Notes and other stuff transmitted by relays”, a new decentralized protocol that replaces things like Twitter and Instagram)—beyond censorship resistance—is that you aren’t limited to 280 characters.
At the time of writing, the Damus web app has run into problems. A warning message on the site homepage reads:
“Damus Web is down because there is someone trying to exploit browser loopholes to steal private keys. I would not recommend using a web client at this time. Damus iOS is not affected.”
Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has donated to Nostr and promoted the open protocol that aspires to create a censorship-resistant global social network.
Nostr, a startup decentralized social network, got its Twitter-like Damus application listed on Apple’s App Store.
Nostr is an open protocol that aims to create a censorship-resistant global social network. Media commentators have described it as a possible alternative to Elon Musk’s Twitter. According to an article in Protos, Nostr is popular with bitcoiners partly because most implementations of it support payments over Bitcoin’s Lightning Network.
Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who last year donated roughly 14 BTC (worth $245,000 at the time) to fund Nostr’s development, hailed the debut of Damus on Apple’s App Store as a “milestone for open protocols,” in a tweet posted late Tuesday. As of press time, the tweet had been viewed 2.1 million times.
According to the Nostr website, Damus is one of several Nostr projects, including Anigma, a Telegram-like chat; Nostros, a mobile client; and Jester, a chess application.