Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Social Networks Bitcoin Communications Open Source

Twister: The Fully Decentralized P2P Microblogging Platform 169

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the not-at&t-approved dept.
New submitter miguelfreitas writes "I'd like to offer for discussion with Slashdot readers this new proposal: twister is the fully decentralized P2P microblogging platform leveraging from the free software implementations of Bitcoin and BitTorrent protocols. This is not being pushed by any company or organization, it is the work of a single Brazilian researcher (me). The idea is to provide a scalable platform for censor-resistant public posting together with private messaging with end-to-end encryption. The basic concepts are described in FAQ while more in-depth technical details are available from the white paper. The twister network is running already: the client can be compiled for Linux, Mac, and Android. 2500 usernames were registered in the first 6 days."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Twister: The Fully Decentralized P2P Microblogging Platform

Comments Filter:
  • Tech bubble anyone?

    • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @12:39PM (#45888389) Homepage Journal

      Tech bubble anyone?

      From the twister FAQ [twister.net.co]:

      The architecture is designed so that other users can’t know if you are online or not, what your IP address is, or which users’ posts you might be reading.

      also:

      Q: How do you make money out of this? A: I don't.

      I like your definition of "Tech bubble" - we can use it as a label to beat down or promote all sorts of extreme views on the internets.

      Do you have a newsletter I can subscribe to?

      • by cowwoc2001 (976892) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @12:50PM (#45888513)

        My definition of Tech Bubble: Your business doesn't have to generate revenue in order to grab an investment for a few billion. All you need to do is combine some popular buzzwords ("MicroBlogging", "Scalable" and "BitCoin").

        This guy can sell himself as the next generation of Twitter: "We use BitCoin technologies to enable Scalable Microblogging" :)

        • by Kremmy (793693)
          This doesn't quite qualify. Because of the design of this system, he doesn't actually have any real control beyond the first few nodes and the very beginning of the network. It's a lot like the people who claim we can crash the BitCoin system by overpowering it with force - good luck doing that on an ever-expanding network of hashing nodes. Dude might land an awesome job somewhere that involves him continuing to maintain the codebase, but this is technologically incompatible with the concept of the bubbl
        • by Sez Zero (586611)

          My definition of Tech Bubble: Your business doesn't have to generate revenue in order to grab an investment for a few billion.

          This guy can sell himself as the next generation of Twitter: "We use BitCoin technologies to enable Scalable Microblogging" :)

          I think you are confusing "tech bubble" with technobabble [urbandictionary.com].

        • The author states "I have a full time job so you might want to know that twister is a hobby."

          So WTF are you even on about.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cloud.pt (3412475)

      Give him bitcoins instead :D
      This is definitely my favorite /. article this year so far.

  • Twister, the not so intersting story of some researchers and a tornado. You can't fool me again!

  • Woohoo! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @12:35PM (#45888343)

    2500 users is impressive. That's about half the size of all Linux desktop users, right?

    • by madmatty (3468483)
      Considering google and IBM corporate environments alone are 90% Linux desktops, your troll fails good sir.
      • Nope. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by RandomUsername99 (574692) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @01:10PM (#45888703)

        Yes, but your counter-troll failed harder. A company I was working for got bought out by IBM, and I was really excited about it, because from the outside they looked like they were making a huge push towards using linux as their primary OS, and open source software in general. (I ended up working for them for about 5 years.)They managed to get Notes, their primary communication tool, working almost as well on Linux as it worked on Windows... which is not particularly well... but they haven't even ported over many of their basic tools, such as their ticket tracking systems, which are used to track development as well, to Linux. As of a few years ago, they said that they were going to stop attempting to port those tools over. For server operating systems, in many applications, they're still relentlessly pushing their developers to concentrate on coding for AIX over linux.

        They've got a bright shiny image put forth from their marketing department as one big unified force pushing for workplace innovation, but the way the company actually works is much more like the government Terry Gilliam's 'Brazil.' Their linux workstation project was an underfunded, disorganized yet highly publicized project put together during their big linux marketing push. I don't even think 25% of the company directly touches linux on a daily basis, let alone the absolutely laughable assertion that 90% of the company uses linux as a primary desktop OS.

        • by jeremyp (130771)

          I worked as a contractor on an IBM project a year or two ago. I have to say that my experience backs your post up. All of the desktops were Windows based. The servers were Linux, but that was mandated by the customer.

          Even worse, we were not allowed to use open source components unless they had been approved by IBM's legal department. We got into the ridiculous situation that we had to change our code coverage tool from one that was based on the GPL to one that wasn't even though the instrumented code it

      • by ttucker (2884057)
        Forcing everyone to use the new version of Gnome and Unity should drive adoption as well. Soon Linux will dominate the desktop....
  • Registered? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @12:38PM (#45888383)

    How do you register a username in a fully decentralized environment?

    • Re:Registered? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Clyde Machine (1851570) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @12:41PM (#45888413) Homepage
      The software is built off the blockchain model of the Bitcoin protocol. A key pair is recognized in the blockchain as being associated with a specific username, and it's there for all nodes to agree upon.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Which means you can do a "double spend" attack to appropriate a specific username?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The same way you claim a bitcoin in a fully decentralzed environment: You say, "this is mine", and wait for enough people to agree with you.

    • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @12:53PM (#45888561) Homepage Journal

      How do you register a username in a fully decentralized environment?

      In like manner of BitCoin registering a transaction in a fully decentralized way.

      1) You make the claim to a username with a set of encryption keys.

      2) The daemons accept the transaction and insert it into the block chain.

      From then on, the only person who can claim to be that username must present credentials based on the encryption keys. Keep those safe, and no one cal masquerade as you on the system.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @01:31PM (#45888929)

        then how do you stop some bot taking many usernames every second? (doesn't say in the FAQ, and it could be a real problem if multiple bots try to generate many usernames each)

        • Good point! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Okian Warrior (537106) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @01:39PM (#45889027) Homepage Journal

          then how do you stop some bot taking many usernames every second? (doesn't say in the FAQ, and it could be a real problem if multiple bots try to generate many usernames each)

          That's an interesting and insightful point.

          I'm going to forward it to Miguel and the people over at the Twister [google.com] forum (unless you'd like to do it - I'll hold off for a couple of hours in case you do).

          This is exactly what they need. A nascent project looking for feedback from smart, informed, and motivated users.

          • by Atzanteol (99067)

            Perhaps they could make it computationally expensive to create a new identity somehow - like when you solve bitcoins. Something short enough that a motivated user wouldn't mind waiting but which would be expensive enough to stop mass creations.

          • Re:Good point! (Score:5, Informative)

            by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @02:09PM (#45889459)

            "I'm going to forward it to Miguel and the people over at the Twister forum (unless you'd like to do it - I'll hold off for a couple of hours in case you do)."

            Then perhaps you'd like to post this as well:

            Twister will never see widespread adoption if users have to compile it for their platform. Unless and until pre-compiled binaries are available, most people will avoid it like the plague.

            • Then perhaps you'd like to post this as well:
              Twister will never see widespread adoption if users have to compile it for their platform. Unless and until pre-compiled binaries are available, most people will avoid it like the plague.

              Sure, Firefox never got widespread adoption. I happen to remember when we had to compile it (it was called Phoenix back then).

              • I must say, though, that this thing is a bear to build on my Kubuntu 12.10 machine. I'm not done yet, and I don't see the end in site. It is _not_ a simple ./configure make make install make clean, and the engine that does the work is a separate package from the UI (which runs in a web broswer)!

              • I happen to remember when we had to compile it (it was called Phoenix back then).

                It also wasn't widespread back then...

                • That is my point. All projects start off this way.

                  • You seem to have missed SleazyRidr's point. We were discussing "widespread adoption". That generally comes some time AFTER "projects starting off".

                    I was speaking of the future. But even now, if they want lots of beta testers, pre-compiled binaries are still the way to get more people involved.
            • by brain159 (113897)

              It would be a good move to get it in to the Raspbian repos, as that's now the dominant distro for Raspberry Pi. There's plenty of under-utilised rPi boards in the world which would be suitable local terminals in to Twister.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They have a complicated bitcoin like system to approve user registry, and provide incentives to "mine" in order to keep the system moving and deliver messages. It seems a bit odd to me - why bother with all that complexity and instead build into the system a way to quickly determine false aliases? Your user name is whatever you say it is, your identification uses standard signed credentials. Your "identity" in this system is your user name and post history. That's your identity - if the user name change

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @12:41PM (#45888419) Homepage Journal
    Secure, auditable, and distributed or downright personal servers should be the way of the future after we seen the abuses (from governments and companies) that enables to have everything centralized in few places. Of course, is pretty hard to get that for big numbers of people, as they are as group easily manipulable, but at least for the people that want security and privacy, must exist some options.
    • by westlake (615356)

      Secure, auditable, and distributed or downright personal servers should be the way of the future

      How do you secure and audit any other server than your own?

      • by gmuslera (3436)
        What you secure and audit is the protocol, or the source code of the twister (they could even do deterministic builds [torproject.org] like the bitcoin people if that becomes a priority), not the physical/virtual PC where it is running. You can do the same with bitcoins, even infected/compromised PCs don't change the network (and your wallet) reliability.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If only there was a protocol for replicating posts across multiple servers & providers.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So how does this improve on the dominant "darknet" technologies? What about all the lesser (failed?) p2p darknets like Antz, Mute or GnuNet?
    TD;DR of course. This is /.

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Better compare it with Diaspora [diasporafoundation.org] or Movim [movim.eu], that are more in the same league, descentralized social networks. at least for the upper layer. If you want to go to the transport protocol, is afaik the bitcoin network protocol, so no darknets or i.e. Tor implied there. And as based on bitcoin, should imply no anonimity neither (what is a good thing in a social network)
      • by everdred (827792)

        a good thing in a social network

        What if you instead called it a "publishing platform"?

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @12:52PM (#45888543)

    The blockchain will soon grow disproportionally large. Right now it's probably managable, but you know what? I'm not downloading tens of gigabytes of blockchain just for the plessure of reading lols on decentralized blogs.

    Nice idea though...

    • not even for the cat pics and videos?

    • by miguelfreitas (3488261) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @01:09PM (#45888697)
      It is only about 100 bytes per user registration, plus a fixed overhead of about 50MB per year. Should be pretty manageable for any low-end desktop.
      • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @02:36PM (#45889855)

        But that's 100MB per million users, it all adds up.

        FYI, twitter has 883 million users.. that's a lot of 100 bytes. 88 gigs worth of them.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          This service won't get more than a few 10s of thousands of users. So your concerns are highly exaggerated.

          • by psyclone (187154)

            But it's nice to think about large or maximum limits of any system.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              This isn't really a problem. As with bitcoin the entire blockchain will not be needed by every client to verify. in the extreme you have everyone on earth with a login name, say 7e9. That's 700 GB. So the whole blockchain with everyone on the planet fits on a 1 TB drive. More than enough people will be willing to do that to maintain working infrastructure. As long as you can verify posters identities with a fraction of that it will work.

    • by Nerdfest (867930) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @01:17PM (#45888767)

      There's a funded KickStarter in progress called Trsst [trsst.com] that has very similar goals, but uses a different approach. It's not quite as distributed as this, but avoids the monster blockchain problem.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sandertje (1748324)
      Which will be fixed when 'light' clients à la MultiBit appear. They synchronize within a few seconds.
    • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @01:28PM (#45888887) Homepage Journal

      The blockchain will soon grow disproportionally large. Right now it's probably managable, but you know what? I'm not downloading tens of gigabytes of blockchain just for the plessure of reading lols on decentralized blogs.

      Nice idea though...

      Apropos of nothing, where are you getting this meme?

      I only ask because it doesn't happen to be true [bitcoin.it], yet it's an oft-repeated meme that everyone seems to put forth as the BitCoin "killer" flaw.

      tl;dr Here's the relevant passage from that link:

      It is not required for most fully validating nodes to store the entire chain. [...] the size of the unspent output set is less than 100MiB, which is small enough to easily fit in RAM for even quite old computers.

      If one wanted to kill an idea, if one wanted to wage a propaganda war on an extreme viewpoint or tool, here is one way to do it.

      • 1) Assume people know the basics of the system, but not the details.
      • 2) Construct a "problem" consistent with the basic knowledge
      • 3) Loudly advertize that "problem" and let others pick up and repeat it

      It certainly seems plausible given the basics. Every transaction will add to the blockchain, and we process a whopping-big number of financial transactions every day! The blockchain will soon become unmanageable, and BitCoin will fail!

      I've seen this in other arenas, including politics. Al Gore invented the internet [snopes.com] for instance. He didn't, he never said that he did, but he did say something vaguely similar. It certainly seems plausible that this is what he did say, and boy what a gaff! It makes him look sooooo silly!

      We should promote our own agenda this way - the UK spam filter, for instance. What right risible meme can we invent that is close enough to reality that people would find it plausible, repeat it, and use it to label the filter as badly conceived?

      Let's use the the same techniques our opponents use. Human psychology, for the win.

      • It is not required for most fully validating nodes to store the entire chain.

        That's the theory - how is it working out in practice? That's the real question.

        If one wanted to kill an idea, if one wanted to wage a propaganda war on an extreme viewpoint or tool, here is one way to do it.

        Of course, you display the same methodology in supporting your idea - positing simplified and idealized circumstances and then treating said meme as reality.

        Let's use the the same techniques our opponents use.

        Y

        • by Hizonner (38491)

          That's the theory - how is it working out in practice?

          It hasn't been enough of a problem in practice for anybody to bother to write the code to shrink the storage.

          You do realize that Bitcoin is an actual deployed system that carries a huge transaction volume, right? That's the practice.

        • If one wanted to kill an idea, if one wanted to wage a propaganda war on an extreme viewpoint or tool, here is one way to do it.

          Of course, you display the same methodology in supporting your idea - positing simplified and idealized circumstances and then treating said meme as reality.

          Let's use the the same techniques our opponents use.

          You're already doing it - your blinders are just too tight for you to see it. People rarely notice logical flaws when they accrue to their favor.

          Whaddaya mean - "not see it"? I'm doing it actively, with that intent in a carefully thought-out manner. I'm literally experimenting with propaganda techniques, using this forum for feedback and in anticipation of the upcoming election (November). I'm trying to learn how to manipulate public opinion.

          Is that bad?

          tl;dr: Whoosh!

    • by gyepi (891047) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @01:48PM (#45889161) Homepage
      As it is explained in the FAQ, the blockchain is not used for distributing user's messages. Only user registration and authentication is based on the Bitcoin protocol. The blockchain only grows in proportion with the number of registered users, with a few hundred bytes per user. Even with a widespread adoption that is still a quite managable size we are talking about.
  • This is neat. But, I'll be honest, I don't want to compile anything. At the very least give me an android APK or better yet get it on the play store.

    • Re:well... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @12:57PM (#45888595) Homepage
      Not only that, it says "can be compiled for Linux, Mac, and Android". What about Windows? I'm all for using free software, but putting out a product like this and then ignoring the most popular operating system in the world by a long shot seems to be like they're asking for it to fail. It's like like they're only targeting free operating systems, as Mac somehow made the list.
      • Re:well... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by rasmusbr (2186518) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @01:27PM (#45888879)

        Not only that, it says "can be compiled for Linux, Mac, and Android". What about Windows? I'm all for using free software, but putting out a product like this and then ignoring the most popular operating system in the world by a long shot seems to be like they're asking for it to fail. It's like like they're only targeting free operating systems, as Mac somehow made the list.

        You have a good point, but I think it is important to understand that Windows is probably only the third most popular OS after Android and iOS at this point if we count installations where the end user has the right and ability to install new software.

        • You have a good point, but I think it is important to understand that Windows is probably only the third most popular OS after Android and iOS at this point if we count installations where the end user has the right and ability to install new software.

          However, non-jail-broken (can't I just say jailed?) iOS violates that definition.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sandertje (1748324)
        Linux, Mac and Android are all UNIX-based. Writing something for Linux is relatively easily portable to Mac or Android. Porting to Windows is another venture alltogether.
      • There is a fix for this problem posted here [ubuntu.com].
      • Not only that, it says "can be compiled for Linux, Mac, and Android". What about Windows?

        The front-end is HTML5/Javascript. The daemon is written in C++, using a few open source libraries. It would only require a good C++ developer to port it to Windows.

        And the entire protocol is opensource, the core technologies are opensource, so anyone with a good knowledge in C++ and any other language can port it to anything...

      • by Bob9113 (14996)

        Not only that, it says "can be compiled for Linux, Mac, and Android". What about Windows?

        Perhaps, since Microsoft sends security bugs to the NSA before fixing them [bloomberg.com], this guy just figures it is frivolous to pretend you can have secure messaging on that platform.

      • It's like like they're only targeting free operating systems, as Mac somehow made the list.

        More likely: the author happens to develop on Linux, Mac and/or Android and once it compiled there, the others came for free. Since adding Windows support usually requires a bunch of workarounds and rewrites, we'll have to wait until the effort's been put in.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        As the Windows port of Twister doesn't exist, how about using Linux through a VM and running Twister that way. It's a lot faster than waiting around for a Windows port or installing a fresh copy of Linux.

    • Re:well... (Score:4, Informative)

      by miguelfreitas (3488261) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @01:12PM (#45888723)
      APK is already available from download page [twister.net.co].
  • Mmm... social networking and telecommunications on a decentralised network with no way of inserting advertising, profiling users, and no easy way of monitoring their communications (Yeah, that was meant for you, NSA, GCHQ, et al). Let's hope it'll work over Tor. And may it be the first of many...

    Hopefully, it'll use interoperable messaging and encryption protocols so that other projects can join the same network easily... and an easy way to generate and exchange public keys. If encryption is controlled
    • by AdamHaun (43173) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @01:48PM (#45889163) Journal

      Mmm... social networking and telecommunications on a decentralised network with no way of inserting advertising

      Actually, it does. From the FAQ [twister.net.co]:

      Can I mine Bitcoins with twister?

      Not exactly. The same mechanism used in Bitcoin for mining is also used in twister but for a different purpose, ensuring the order in which user registrations took place (the nickname belongs to whoever registered it first). twister network must incentive users to mine, so block chain may keep advancing. However, unlike Bitcoin, there is no monetary value involved. The twister incentive is: whoever finds the hash collision to validate a new block of transactions will be awarded with the right to send a promoted message. Promoted messages have a certain probability of being displayed by twister client.

      Promoted messages? Am I going to be flooded with SPAM?

      No, I hope not. I don’t like promoted message any more than you do, but I believe that a fair balance between the allowed volume of promoted messages will not upset the users while providing a good incentive for people to run the twister infrastructure.
      Currently there is a maximum of one promoted message to be shown every 8 hours for every client, but the exact policy to be used is meant to be decided by the community.
      The mechanism is actually quite democratic. Anyone can start generating blocks to send promoted messages, so this is effectively an advertising mechanism reaching the entire population of twister users. While an entrepreneur may invest in a mining rig to announce his product, a non-profit organization may ask his supporters to use their own personal computers to increase the probability of spreading their message.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    As soon as this thing gets big enough for people to start using it, Twitter is going to throw a pile of lawyers at this guy. Twister clearly infringes on Twitter's trademark, as it does the same thing and has a name intended to cause confusion.

    • by Toy G (533867)

      Good luck: the guy is based in Brazil. Also, the technology is completely different, and the network cannot be stopped now that it's been started. And to be honest, I can't see the likes of Kanye West ever touching this sort of thing, so there is no confusion whatsoever... Twitter would have everything to lose (in terms of bad PR) and nothing to gain from a lawsuit against a hobbyist Brazilian developer; considering the delicate state of US-Brazil relationship after the NSA leaks, the political world would

  • I understand this is Slashdot, but I find the the lack of a Windows client for a project like this pretty ridiculous.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Windows is a notable but minor OS among software developers in the crypto-anarchy scene. Provided the project picks up steam a Windows build will come along soon enough. There are more important things to do right now.

    • Most of the users who'd want a windows client will be using it on their phones anyway.

  • How does this compare to tent.io?
  • A while ago I said Twitter should be an RFC, not a company. Nice to see that somebody is doing that kind of thing. The catch is adoption. If most people don't adopt, it doesn't work. An in-browser client written in JavaScript would help that, if it's possible. In the 21st century, people have gotten used to the idea that you don't have to download a client for each protocol. Yeah, it sucks to have everything in the browser sometimes; but that's reality.

    • by Toy G (533867)

      Twister has a local daemon which handles connections and serves an HTML UI. So yeah, the interface is in-browser, but you still need a background client: it's the price of total decentralisation. (this said, once technologies like WebRTC mature, it might be possible to implement all of it in-browser, but I wouldn't hold my breath).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    For distributed, peer-to-peer solutions to work well, many users MUST allow significant storage on their own machines. Without such storage, P2P solutions will lack a 'history', making them unsuitable for anything BUT instantaneous services like file transfer and Instant Messaging.

    But why not a P2P, distributed forum, for instance. The forum database itself would be distributed (with a statistically appropriate level of redundancy/duplication) across storage on individual users machines. HDD storage has nev

  • Nothing is ever "fully decentralized" until the internet itself is a giant mesh network.

  • Well, not exactly [slashdot.org]

    I'm expecting something like this to topple Facebook.

    With a terabyte of storage on a handheld device and a local application, you could replicate FB's service without the ads, limitations and privacy issues.

  • i just threw up a bit in my mouth

  • by ivi (126837) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @03:21PM (#45890459)

    Last time I checked, /. comments could be rated
    by randomly selected [registered] readers,

    I hope you've got a similar scheme i Twister...?

  • by jqh1 (212455)

    My phone is about to catch on fire! It is actually uncomfortably hot to the touch running the twister server -- some sort of CPU usage regulation would be nice. Love the idea.

The Force is what holds everything together. It has its dark side, and it has its light side. It's sort of like cosmic duct tape.

Working...