Ever since Elon Musk bought Twitter, decentralized social networks have become much more popular. Of course, the idea of designing these platforms had been proposed since Bitcoin became famous, and people like “Jack Dorsey”, the co-founder of Twitter, had stepped in this direction. But now, attention has been paid to one of these social networks, Nostr, and it seems that Dorsey even prefers it to Bluesky.
Noster’s new social network has come to compete with email, blogging, Instagram, Twitter, Discord and even Telegram. This program is not just an application, but a new innovation in the field of sending and receiving content. Noster is actually a protocol that anyone can freely create an application for.
Openness is the main feature of Nostr and crypto fans pay special attention to it. Unlike competing examples such as Mastodon or Sphinx, this social network is much easier to use and does not confuse new users.
The number of Noster users has increased from 90 thousand to 1.1 million in the last three months. The protocol is still in its early days, but it has already caught the attention of people like Edward Snowden and Jack Dorsey.
When Tim Berner-Lee created the web in 1991, his dream was to build a global network that anyone could join and interact with without fear of censorship. But now the giants of the technology world such as Google, Amazon and Meta own most of the Internet infrastructure and control the content on their platforms. This is where our existence becomes important.
What is Nostr?
Noster is not an application, but a technology. Noster’s technology is free and open source, and when apps are built on the platform, they inherit its global network characteristics of decentralization and resistance to censorship. The name Nostr is derived from the phrase Notes and Other Stuff Transmitted by Relays and is known among users with the symbol of an ostrich.
So you can guess that the most important concept in this network is relays. Relay is software that sends, receives or stores text messages. Fiatjaf, which is a nickname for Noster’s creator, says the protocol’s relays are simple and can run on any laptop with any internet connection. Therefore, justice is established among Internet users to implement their projects. In other words, there is no need for Google or Amazon with powerful servers to run Noster’s relays.
When you publish a note in a Nostr app, Nostr puts a 64-character key on it like a signature. This packet is then sent to the relays. Also, when you want to follow another user on Noster, you just need to access his public key throughout this protocol to see his profile.
How to use Noster?
Noster has many applications. One of them is called Iris.to, which is a program similar to Twitter. In this application, you can create a profile, follow people, send (short) text messages and pay (Bitcoin). To enter this app, it is enough:
1. Go to Iris.to and enter your name.
2. Edit your profile and save it.
3. Send your first message.
4. Done! Now you are using Noster!
Now you can follow people like Jack Dorsey and Edward Snowden and see their new posts. Remember that Noster is a protocol. So you can use one public/private key to log into multiple websites and apps and see your data. Of course, to share your account on other platforms, you only need to publish the public key, because by publishing the private key, others can access your account.
What advantages does Noster have?
Probably one of the reasons why even Jack Dorsey is more interested in this social network is the innovation of this protocol in providing comprehensive controls to users. Noster allows the user to decide when and where they want to transfer their data.
Many Nostr applications allow you to control your relay list. To check relays you can go to Nostr.watch to see a list of all public relay addresses. The more relays you have on this website, the more decentralized your communication becomes.
Although platforms like Mastodon were launched with the promise of censorship resistance, they ultimately consist of centralized networks that are controlled by their hosts. This is where Noster’s maker Fiatjaf’s emphasis on censorship resistance comes into play.
In December 2022, Elon Musk banned the sharing of links to the services of Noster, Mastodon, Facebook, Turth Social and other competitors. But no one can censor any content in our applications. Because you can store your messages on many relays and the applications to read your information will check multiple relays at the same time to confirm the correctness of the data.
Fiatjaf also said that each person’s identity should be independent of applications to allow for easy data transfer. For example, if users want to switch from Iris to Damus, they can do so, taking all their notes, followers, and private messages with them.
On the other hand, every application must be constantly optimizing the experience it provides to its users; Because if it cannot be attractive enough, users will easily leave it and go to the next app. Therefore, the competition between apps always leads to the production of better apps.
Noster protocol is somewhat similar to email protocols. Today, with the help of email protocols, you can communicate with other services regardless of the service you are a user of. For example, you can have Gmail and send messages to Yahoo users. Because all email services work with common protocols that are not exclusive.
In addition, new applications are being developed for Noster every day. For example, you can access a list of these programs from this page on GitHub. Damus.io (on iPhone), Amethyst (on Android) and BlogStack are among the attractive apps that use this protocol. The last app is a web blogging platform.
Noster or Bluesky; What does Dorsey say?
The competition between new social networks to attract users who are looking to leave Twitter continues. Many names are heard these days, but one of them, which started its work a few years ago, is called Bluesky. The idea of this platform was proposed by Jack Dorsey and this project started in 2019. But Dorsey sold the company in 2021.
Bluesky also uses a protocol called AT and has recently released its applications, but it still does not have as many users as Noster. Although the Twitter co-founder was instrumental in Bluesky’s development, he’s mostly seen on Noster these days. Asked which platform he prefers, Dorsey, who donated 14 bitcoins to the Nostr project last year, wrote: “It doesn’t matter what I think. What matters is what you value. Try both and decide for yourself.”
However, since Dorsey is now more active in Noster, some users believe that he is more optimistic about the future of this social network. Dorsey’s idea that social networks should be decentralized seems to have caught on with users, and these platforms are now more than ever under scrutiny.
What will be the future of Nostr protocol?
As we said, Noster is still in its early days. If you deal with a number of apps built on this protocol, you will soon realize that this protocol suffers from problems such as spam, privacy and scalability. Many apps are also slow and buggy.
The most important feature of this protocol is its decentralization and resistance to censorship. Anyone who starts using this protocol can run their own relays and help develop the network without getting a license.
This is one of the main foundations of open protocols. Of course, Noster still has nothing to say against the big social networks and has not been able to attract big influencers. But this protocol has the potential to initiate the next generation of social networks and revolutionize the world with its applications.