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Dominic Tarr: Secure Scuttlebutt – The “Localized” but Distributed Social Network

Published on June 4th, 2019 by epicenterbitcoin

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We’re joined by Dominic Tarr, a sailor, and the Founder of Secure Scuttlebutt. This curiously named project has a fascinating approach to creating a truly distributed social network. One might even say that Secure Scuttlebutt is “localized” as it gracefully degrades to Sneakernet, something few blockchain projects can claim. In actuality, the SSB protocol isn’t a blockchain in the traditional sense – each user’s feed acts as a sort of localized chain of posts, signed by their public key, and possibly encrypted for a friend's key to decrypt. When users meet, the system syncs their local databases using a gossip protocol and replicates the data. Encrypted data is transported from peer, to peer, to peer (or friends of friends) until it reaches its intended recipient. User may also optionally rely on public servers to sync data over the internet.

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Daniels background and life living on a boat off the coast of New Zealand
  • How being at sea gave him the idea for Secure Scuttlebutt
  • What is Secure Scuttlebutt and what are the goals of the project
  • The issues with centralization and redefining decentralization as a positive statement
  • The notion that the technological singularity only serves the goals of centralized power
  • How SSB stores information and how posts get propagates from between friends, and friends of friends
  • How the network leverages “Pub” servers to sync data over the internet
  • Usage of the platform and the communities which thrive there
  • The cost of spam and how users protect against DDoS attacks
  • The project’s funding and roadmap

Links mentioned in this episode:


  • Trail of Bits: Trust the team at the forefront of blockchain security research
  • Azure: Deploy enterprise-ready consortium blockchain networks that scale in just a few clicks

Support the show, consider donating:

This episode is hosted by Sebastien Couture & Friederike Ernst. Show notes and listening options: epicenter.tv/290

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