Scuttlebutt is a decent(ralised) secure gossip platform
Scuttlebutt was first incepted on a sail boat by Dominic. Living on a sailboat, Dom had a lot of autonomy and time to rethink things. Like thinking how there’s so much software that is frustrating, and unless you are actually inside the organisation that created that software, it is unlikely you can do anything about it, or even complain about it in a satisfying way. Except in Open Source, where you can see the code and tinker with it. Dom began thinking what egalitarian software might look like, and the hunch was what decentralisation would be a big part of it.
The idea of ‘Gossip’ is interesting in shaping Scuttlebutt. As you know, gossip, is how lil secret messages are passed around between us humans, but ‘gossip’ is also a type of computer protocol. The Gossip Protocol is way for computers to send messages to other computers by jumping around through other computers first. This kind of gossip messaging is extremely resilient, because if some computers are missing, it doesn’t matter, it just goes through other computers.
Dom took this basic idea and added enough security, so that to send messages between friends, we didn’t need a centralised company or database anymore, and the messages can flow freely and be passed between and around friends and their computers. It’s secured so that messages are verified and can’t be tampered with, so that we can know the messages passed around are indeed true and from our dear friends and the right people.
By building on top of this gossip protocol, developers and designers around the world have then created a social platform to access this decentralised way of social media. Like other social platforms, there’s a feed where you can post and share images and thoughts to all your friends, there’s hashtags channels, calender events, and even privately message someone with encryption.
Since it’s all the messages are held locally on all our computers, we can also use scuttlebutt and read our messages even when we’re offline and there’s no active internet connection. “Offline use” is super nice for when you’re on remote island, off-grid community, or a sail boat.
The Scuttlebutt principles are shaped by the community and the ongoing community care and labour, comes from generous coders, designers, activists, researchers, hackers and sailers, supported by combination of open source contributions, grants and funding.
Want to learn more? Check out the documentation or just get started! For stories and talks see our videos. If you are interested in the more of the technicalities, see the research page or the SSB Protocol Guide.