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What is Nostr? The decentralised Twitter alternative explained – The Indian Express

After Mastodon, Nostr is being hailed as the next big alternative to Twitter. In fact, it recently got the attention of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey who donated several Bitcoins to the cause. But what exactly is it and how does it work? Read on to know more about Nostr.
Nostr takes another stab at a decentralised social network after Mastodon. But unlike Mastodon where user identities are attached to servers and servers have a degree of control over registered users, Nostr is a lot more open in that regard. There are two components at play on Nostr: clients and relays. Each user runs a client, while anyone can run a relay. Clients can publish data (i.e. create posts) on any number of relays and fetch data from other relays.
Each user is assigned a public key. When a user follows someone, the user’s client fetches posts associated with that someone’s public key from the associated relay. This process is repeated on start-up, with the client querying data from all relays it knows for all users it follows. The fetched data is then displayed to the user chronologically to make up a feed.
It sounds complicated, but such an implementation solves several flaws that other platforms suffer from. On Mastodon, when a server shuts down, your data and account are completely deleted. However, on Nostr, since users are identifiable by public keys and are not really tied to relays (servers) if a relay shuts down or gets deleted, they can always move to another relay.
Another benefit of such an implementation is that it’s very “censorship-resistant,” as Nostr likes to put it. If a user gets banned from a relay, they can publish posts to another.
In many ways, Nostr sets out to solve the same Twitter problems that Mastodon did, such as ads, spam, and an addictive algorithm. However, in addition to that, Nostr also goes big on the principles of “free speech,” despite not mentioning the term in its documentation a single time. It’s virtually impossible to boot a person off the platform completely unless all relays ban them. However, as Nostr’s documentation reads, “there will always be some Russian server willing to take your money in exchange for serving your posts.”
Nostr isn’t really an app or even a “platform,” so you’ll need to use apps that are built on top of it. One of these, named Damus, has a beta release on the Apple App Store. If you’ve got an iPhone/iPad, you can proceed with the following steps to use the app:
1. Generate a public and private key using Damus or a Nostr client like astral.ninja.
2. Save the private key somewhere safe and keep it secret.
3. Create multiple keys if needed. Those keys can be used across all Nostr clients.
4. From the Nostr client you are using, you should be able to update your profile details such as name, profile picture, etc.
5. You are good to go. Use the client to make posts and find users to follow.
You can also use Nostr on the web through websites like coracle.social and astral.ninja.
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zohaib ahmedZohaib AhmedZohaib writes at the Tech Desk at Indian Express. He firmly believes t… read more

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