Nostr is an open sourced protocol and decentralized network that was created in 2019 by an anonymous founder known as @fiatjf. Shortly after Elon Musk acquired X (formerly known as Twitter), Jack Dorsey publicly endorsed Nostr by donating 14 Bitcoin, worth over $250,000 at the time, to the anonymous founder. This sparked a surge in interest in Nostr as people looked for censorship-resistant alternatives to the increasingly centralized social media platforms.
A user’s Nostr identity consists of a unique string of 63 characters that serves as your public facing key. This key can be easily shared between devices and apps, which is similar to a crypto wallet’s seed phrase. In that same mindset, users will need to write down and secure their Nostr ID as losing this key means losing access to your profile. Once your Nostr ID has been created, following other users is as easy as adding their public facing keys while the network of peer to peer relays fetch their updates.
Nostr shines in that it is resilient to censorship as it doesn’t rely on centralized servers to store information and the hosts rules and ideologies. Users are able to connect to multiple different relays to publish their messages, and if a relay goes down, these messages can flow through alternative routes. This prevents a single entity from being able to shut down communication or messages all while a user’s messages are signed using the sender’s private key to verify authenticity.
Many of Nostr’s users are drawn to it for other reasons; its compatibility with Bitcoin’s Lightning Protocol. This incentivises content creators as users can send Sats, (the smallest unit of BTC currently), to their favorite creators. Allowing creators to be compensated for their work.
Nostr provides an alternative to traditional mainstream social media that control user data and algorithmically determine what you see. On X, Facebook, and Instagram, your attention is sold to advertisers and your feed shaped by an opaque algorithm that’s designed to keep you addicted and inside their app. This warps online discourse in unhealthy ways while Nostr returns control to its users, allowing the free flowing of information and discourse to occur.
Since this is an open sourced protocol, many different apps are being developed on top of it. Users can choose which apps they prefer while still being part of the same global social graph. Some of the more popular Nostr apps include Amethyst, Primal, Damus, and Iris. A full list can be found at www.nostrapps.com.
Nostr represents an exciting innovation for those looking to bypass the centralized control of typical social networks – a decentralized, censorship-resistant network that utilizes Bitcoin’s Lightning protocol. In an age of increasing polarization among the world’s tech giants, Nostr offers a refreshing alternative of user self governance.
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