Dominic Tarr is a hacker who resides on a sailboat, usually found in New Zealand's beautiful Hauraki Gulf. In recent years he has risen to fame as the creator of the Secure Scuttlebutt protocol, Scuttlebutt for short. Scuttlebutt is comprised of a standardized message format and a subjective append only log stored locally by users.
The first application has been a multi-client decentralized social media platform that is an absolute joy to use, and I encourage everyone to download my favourite desktop client, Patchwork, or Manyverse for Android. As an autonomous software system, like Bitcoin, Scuttlebutt rewards the provisioning of resources to support the network, only rather than a point system and money myth, Scuttlebutt offers something far more valuable, conversation. This mostly covers the origin of the protocol but I will definitely conduct more interviews with Dom and others close to the project, which is today one of the most impressive, and well used decentralized applications in existence.
Visit scuttlebutt.nz for more information,
History of Secure Scuttlebutt
The name is coincidental. It comes from an old amazon paper describing a subsystem of the amazon dynamo database that used a gossip protocol.
Gossip protocols are robust because, like human gossip, messages can be passed through third parties ensuring that if a network is disrupted communication can still take place.
However as the message is passed from party to party there is the opportunity to manipulate its contents. This is easily countered using cryptography
What is secure scuttlebutt?
Came from looking at the problem of getting two databases to store the same information.
Dom was looking at building something like IPFS he called Cyphernet
Cyberspace is the space made by signals, cypherspace is the space made by algorithms
Hyperlinks tell you where to go to find a piece of information, a hash is the primary identifier in cypherspace. The hash tells you what the thing is once you have found it but not where to find it.
With hyperlinks the server can give you anything. With a hash you always know you have the right thing but another system is required to help you find the thing.
Dom found that in private software development there was an incentive to make poor software because that results in more billable hours for the service industry
This is because software contains a power structure encoded in it
Today we live in an age of digital feudalism
From reading the Dynamo paper and learning node.js dominic became recognised as a distributed systems expert.
This was the toolkit needed for the data replication he imagined.
After presenting at a javascript meetup people responded well
He got a job at a company, nearform, to build a distributed database. Through this project the idea for secure scuttlebut emerfged and dom gained the skills he needed to build it
Disappointment with blockchain
There is so much potential in cypherlinks - hashes and signatures - an opportunity to create a “third web”
In the early days of the internet everything worked so well just being free, why would you make everything cost money?
Insisting on strict ordering makes it really hard to “get life done”
Additional third web projects
United States


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