- What is Nostr?
- How does Nostr work?
- Features of the Nostr social network
- How to use Nostr Apps: getting started
- The future of the Nostr
- Is Nostr the next generation of social networks?
A decentralized social network that bypasses censorship and preserves user data even if the server goes down. A new technology that has adopted the authentication features of cryptocurrency wallets and is gaining popularity among lovers of social media freedom. Nostr is the subject of this article and we'll try to convince you of the innovation of this social media technology.
What is Nostr?
Nostr stands for "Notes and Other Stuff Transmitted by Relay" and is a decentralized network where accounts are based on cryptographic key pairs.
Nostr has been dubbed the Twitter killer, and there is some merit to this opinion, as Nostr solves the problems of authorization without email, data retention, and, most pleasingly for many users, censorship circumvention.
Nostr is an open-source social networking protocol and uses relays so that it and its users are not dependent on a central server. This allows for flexible customization, including the creation of different clients based on this protocol and the development of the technology by the whole community.
The Nostr technology includes not only social applications (Twitter analog without censorship) but also other Nostr tools, music, podcasts, and content creation. Nostr itself makes it easy to build clients and relays and promotes a variety of software.
How does Nostr work?
Nostr has two main components: clients and relays. And each user can be represented as a pair of keys.
The basic principles of protocol operation are:
- Nostr blockchain technology.
- IPFS for data storage.
- Public and private key encryption gives users control over their data.
- No central servers - a fully decentralized network.
Nostr vs Mastodon
Nostr could be compared to Mastodon. However, Nostr's developers themselves believe that Mastodon was an excellent initiative "to decentralize social networking ten years ago when the Internet was friendlier and server owners could be trusted to cooperate". However, Mastodon didn't address the issue of censorship, whereas Nostr does.
Public and private keys
Each user launches a client (application) and authenticates with a private key or generates a new key pair during registration. The use of cryptography distinguishes Nostr from traditional social networks that use passwords and email. The private key is stored in a secure place chosen by the user. It is worth noting that the loss of a private key can lead to the loss of data, as it is the only important signifier of your identity.
Nostr web clients
The Nostr web client is simply an interface for viewing messages sent over the Nostr protocol. Therefore, once the keys have been created, users can securely log in to any of the proposed clients.
Since Nostr gives you complete freedom to create applications (clients) based on it, you can choose a client based on your personal preferences, whether you want to see an analog of the Twitter interface or an application with a relay focus. Here are some clients from the official Nostr website.
For use in a browser - Nostr web clients:
- Snort, easy to use even for beginners.
- Yosup, for lovers of minimalism.
- Primal, a fast client with server-side caching.
Nostr for iOS:
- Nos, a pleasant interface and strong protection.
- Damus, the first Nostr client to be blocked in China.
- Plebstr, a secure closed-source client.
Nostr for Android:
- Nostros, a full-featured client with experimental relay tricks.
- Amethyst, another client with advanced functionality.
For desktop, you can use Gossip, more-speech, and Lume.
What are relays?
Any user can start relays (servers to which they connect) to exchange messages. Messages sent and signed with a private key, such as Twitter posts, are broadcast on the relays to which the user is connected.
A map of the relays is available for viewing, including paid options.
How does Nostr get around censorship?
This network is totally decentralized, making it virtually impossible to completely remove a user. If one of the relays goes down, your data will not be affected. This provides a certain level of security, which is why Nostr allows you to connect to several relays at the same time.
Among other things, users can run their own relays to avoid censoring altogether. You can use a dedicated server or VPS from a reliable hosting provider to set up your own relay. This ensures that you always have a copy of all your Nostr messages and interactions. An official manual for creating your own relays is still under development, and this is where open source comes in. As open-source technology has a community, users help each other with such issues.
Virtual private servers - efficient operation at a favorable price. Fast NVMe, 25 countries, managed and unmanaged VPS.
In general, the answer to the question of how Nostr managed to get rid of censorship lies in the nature of this technology. Nostr is not run by one company, and the developers working on the code are funded by donations.
Typically, some relays will block messages being sent due to moderation, but this problem can also be solved by joining a new relay or creating your own.
What about cryptocurrencies?
The principle of using cryptography in Nostr applications makes them similar to crypto wallets. This allows cryptocurrency owners to easily adapt and use Nostr's state-of-the-art solutions.
Nostr clients can easily integrate Bitcoin and Lightning networks for instant payments. For example, Nostr offers a Current client with an inbuilt Bitcoin wallet.
Bitcoin payments are decentralized and allow relays to monetize their activity and prevent spam attacks. There is currently no monetization of display advertising on the network, so the fee for connecting to some relays is justified.
Features of the Nostr social network
Benefits of the Nostr social network:
- Follow people and view their public posts.
- Share updates, photos, links, and more.
- Send private messages to your friends.
- Control your information and choose what you share and with whom.
- No ads, forced content, or selling personal information for profit.
If you are a Twitter user, you can use nostr.directory to search for Twitter users you follow who have linked their Twitter accounts to Nostr public keys.
You can also subscribe to dozens of Nostr users, for example, by following nostr.band and seeing their activities.
By switching to a new application based on the Nostr protocol, you won't lose your private messages, posts, and follower network. All this will be reflected in any client you log into with a pair of keys.
How to use Nostr Apps: getting started
Norst clients are available for different operating systems, with different interfaces and functionality. For example, we chose Snort (social network client) for the web version and Plebstr, which is suitable for both Android and iOS.
Creating an account is just a few clicks away. Go to snort.social and start creating an account by clicking on "Create Account".
The next step is to save the generated keys to a secure location. You can also change the client's language at this stage. Once you have saved the keys, proceed with registration.
You can set up an avatar and nickname at this stage, but you can do this later in your account settings.
Done! This is what the Snort notes page looks like after signing up.
You can create your first post by clicking on the plus sign at the bottom right of the screen. A window will appear for you to create a post.
Advanced settings will suggest the relays that will broadcast your new post and other settings.
Then click "Send" and your note will appear in the feed.
Subscribe to other users by searching and selecting the ones you want to follow, similar to Twitter. Use public keys or nicknames to find people you know.
Next, we will need to find out the private key. To do this, go to "Settings" under "Account" and click on "Export keys".
Copy your private key and keep it in a safe place. Remember that if you lose your private key, you lose your account.
Now let's try out a practical feature of the Nostr protocol - the ability to use more than one client and to use a single key pair for all of your applications. We tried Nostr for Android using another client (Plebstr).
Go to Google Play or the App Store and install the Plebstr client. Open the application and instead of creating a new account, log in to an existing one. To do this, click "Login" and enter the private key you copied from Snort into the appropriate field.
Done! You can now actively use the account on your smartphone.
Within the app, you can easily send messages through the Messages section or directly through other users' accounts.
As mentioned above, you can use other Nostr tools based on this technology. You can therefore use a private key to log in to any of these applications.
The future of the Nostr
Nostr is decentralized and not owned by a single company (like Twitter). This means that the development direction of the protocol and Nostr tools depends on all of its users.
NIP (Nostr Implementation Possibilities) exists precisely to ensure the compatibility of changes made. Each developer can come up with their own solutions to common problems and implement them only in their application, but it is much better if all ideas are implemented for all applications at the same time, creating a single standard. NIPs exist to coordinate this process.
Nostr does not rule out the fact that, due to the nature of software, there will always be bugs and vulnerabilities in it. This is often due to the fact that clients require a private key to be entered into the system. The application will try to keep the code secure, but there are always risks involved.
For all of Nostr's peculiarities, the technology is still in its early stages, and it may well be on the cusp of a new era of social networking. The network will continue to expand its user base and network to include new features of decentralization, censorship resistance, and privacy.
Is Nostr the next generation of social networks?
As an open-source technology and a protocol that decentralizes the social network in a way that preserves privacy and avoids censorship, Nostr is a competitor to Twitter with interesting features that will tremendously benefit many users.
Nostr is built on modern principles of cryptography, allowing connection to multiple clients using a key pair and constant access to the account from any application that supports the Nostr protocol. In addition, the Nostr network allows Bitcoin payments. Another feature of Nostr is its decentralization, using multiple relays instead of a central server. This allows users to avoid censorship.
The protocol is evolving and gaining more and more "followers" among well-known personalities. Jack Dorsey, Vitalik Buterin, and Edward Snowden support Nostr, including a large developer community. The protocol is poised for major changes and undoubtedly high-profile development.
Try Nostr and decide for yourself if this technology is the future of social media.