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Personal Scuttlebutting

TL;DR :rabbit:

I've been thinking about the potential of altnets to fulfill the promise of Bluetooth.

Context :scroll:

When I was younger there was a hyped promise of Personal Area Networks which would unite all your personal devices into this pet cloud that would follow you around. Bluetooth was seen as the wireless protocol to make your cyberpunk dreams true. That promise was never truly delivered, we sidestepped this dream and moved headlong as a society into Software as a Service which binds each one of us into subscriptions and third-party clouds as custodians of our data. We're now finally realizing that we might have taken the wrong path there and are turning back into self-hosting and decentralization.

The power of gossip :speech_balloon:

Gossip is a very powerful feature of SSB-like protocols, it makes it possible to have services working without actually having servers or a single point of failure. Still, I'd be a bit uncomfortable carrying some very private data through SSB mainnet. I want the benefits of SSB but I want them separate from the main network.

Altnets will rescue me :fire_engine:

So, instead of just self-hosting stuff on a VPS. I want to have small apps gossiping to each other passing stuff that concerns only me around them in a personal scuttlebutting network. I want to be a part of SSB main network, interacting with our beautiful scuttleverse, while still being able to store and replicate my most private stuff and maybe share them with trusted friends through a separate alternative network.

Future work :rocket:

I think that I can run both the main network and an alternate network at the same time provided they use different keys and ports. So I want to experiment with making it easier to run multiple networks in Scuttle Shell in the future. If it is as easy to add a new network to scuttle shell as it is to add a mail account to thunderbird, then, we might end up using them more.

I will not do this anytime soon, my priority is delivering #patchfox, and I see Scuttle-Shell as a important step to fulfill this objective. Only after both of these are working fine, I plan to devote time to this. But in the meanwhile I'd like to collect your thoughts on these ideas.

@Tim Schumacher

Hey SoapDog

I think this is a wonderful #quest!

PAN is such a great idea, but it sadly never delivered. Maybe you can join forces with micro who wanted to do better local link discovery on ipv6 networks.


Yes! This is an excellent idea.


Hey André! I also have been thinking about this, for instance that many apps are log-centered, specially time-series data like your GPS positions or the weather/temperature. I've been wanting to make an SSB feed in my raspberry pi that just logs the temperature in my house, daily.

And these things should be personal-first, with optional replication elsewhere. One comment I put somewhere here in scuttlebutt to Mix, was that even other kinds of metadata could be stored as alternative feeds, for instance imagine that your app would store read/unread status for each post on patchwork, not on your main feed, but on a "subfeed" or "altfeed" that you own locally. Then you can choose to replicate that feed to only very close friends.

I think altnets are not a good choice because they are based on choosing a different "protocol cap string" which means it's a very strong boundary and you couldn't merge the altnet with the mainnet in the future if you wanted to. I think a nice way of implementing this is through subfeeds that you own locally, but which behave differently regarding replication and friending. For instance, "follow" messages on your main feed tell your friends who you want to replicate. That's just how the gossip and friends plugins work, but we could write it in a different way. For instance we could make messages of type "subfeed" where you declare ownership over another feed that you locally have created, then the "subfeed" plugin would take care of replicating that only to a whitelist of other peers. This is how we could achieve privacy, but without separating them from the mainnet. For instance in the UI you could see messages from your subfeeds, while having the guarantee that only you are seeing them, because they are only on your computer.


@staltzphone I think that both approaches should be pursuit. I think that a strong boundary that prevents merging might be desirable in some cases while the altfeed or subfeed approach gives even more fine grained control over replication.

By having all these possibilities, one could, theoretically, go from _replicate freely and wildly, to replicate with only trusted people, to make it impossible to merge back. I am sure there are use cases for all these scenarios.

For example, I can see some company pursuing company-only altnet while friends pursuing friends comm subfeed. What do you think?

@Zajo - PAX

I'm dreaming about a real PUB, a WiFi in my home or at work (and also everyone like you @SoapDog carrying #gossip-ready devices) to allow the #offline messaging in age of #censorship of otherwise "broken" #internet .

I imagine it like so:

  • :door: You come to visit me
  • :cyclone: your device collects data you follow from my pub
  • :key: :memo: you verify my identity (sort of key signing / optional but nice )
  • :paw_prints: you bring the data wherever you go
  • :recycle: repeat with someone else
  • :door: you come back
  • :cyclone: my pub collects data you brought
  • :cyclone: your device collects data you follow
  • ...
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@Zajo - PAX

But it could work also with #ssb, couldn't it?

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@Matt Lorentz

@SoapDog looking for these sort of apps is what led me to find ssb. Specifically trying to set up fault-tolerant log file syncing among my machines.

I've got a home-grown alt-net syncing this stuff at home, but I would love to level-up to scuttle shell in the future. I wrote a blog post about my setup.

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