Recently I have been exploring the re-decentralisation of the internet. This is the growing movement to move back towards an internet that is not controlled by centralised servers.
Scuttlebutt is a project to build a person based decentralised internet network. Specifically, it focuses on what people do and has started with the idea of building a social network akin to Facebook.
However, it is far more than that. It basically is a simple diary of entries, you share your diary with people and they share their diary with you. You also share the diaries of your friends with other friends. This is all done peer to peer rather than via centralised servers. So it works over wifi without internet just as well as when you are connected to the internet.
Because it is just a diary of things that I have done, it can be used to create a wide variety of people-centred applications. To date there is a correspondence chess game, github clone, IRC style chat client, secret sharing tool, calendaring and poll systems
DAT and the Beaker Browser
DAT by comparison to SSB is data centric, everything is a hash pointing to data; if you have the hash you can access the data. That data can be anywhere, on any users machine and you get the data itself from peers that have that data.
So to share a video file (for example a talk I gave on Scuttlebutt recently at the European Perl Conference) I add it locally and then just share the DAT hash:
Anyone can then grab the file direct from your machine via that hash using the command line tool, or most likely with the Beaker Browser, which is the main client for DAT. This is a direct connection, so if I turn off my computer you can’t get the file. However, retrieving the file makes you a peer and you start sharing the file also so the more it gets shared the more robust the access to the file.
The internet for many people (like me) has been sliding downhill for some time as corporations have taken our cyberspace and subverted it to be walled gardens and monopolies.
I am immensely optimistic that technologies like SSB and DAT can break that downward spiral and give us back the ability to have a peer to peer network that is for me and my friends.
Both SSB and DAT provide that ability to basically have an internet of internets, where my network is not your network.
The SSB-chat project for me opened my eyes. It is a simple text chat with no walls. Which sounds like I’ll get flooded by spammers and haters. But it does not happen as the chat is limited to people I know and people they know. So it stays small and interesting despite theoretically being accessible to billions.
Because it is not centralised it is cleaner, spammers only spam a small group; and quickly get turned off at the source. My friends block a spammer and they don’t give me the spammers “diary”. So I am protected by my friends and I protect them
My “community” is my network. I am not part of some corporate network. I like it a lot!
The thing I really like most about Scuttlebutt is the people inside the network, those creating it. It is full of interesting people interested in creating something better than today.