The potential for a truly user-owned internet is becoming closer than ever with new protocols like Nostr and decentralized identity systems like BNS.
Larry has been at the forefront working in this area for years. His latest project is solving the problem of identity and search for users on Nostr.
Catch Larry online:
Twitter - @larrysalibra
Website - https://www.newinternetlabs.com/
Nostr Names - https://www.newinternetlabs.com/nostr/
Jake: [00:00:00] \Larry, how you doing today, my man?
Larry: I'm great. Awesome to talk
Jake: to you, Jake. And. I'm excited to have you on. This is a, I've seen you around the, the stack circles since the beginning but I haven't touched on DiDs much. It's, it's kind of a topic that people are aware of. You know, ENS, BNS.
And Nostr has clearly made this a, a topic over the past few months, but I haven't really had anybody deep dive into it. I don't really know what it means per se. I can kind of what the, what the words mean. So I'm sorry for this one. . But to kind of start, I love the way that crypto and Bitcoin it brings up people from so many backgrounds for so many different reasons, you know, financial censorship, something else.
So I'm curious, what, what is your fascination with Bitcoin or crypto? Whichever, what do you, you like more and, uh, what, what kind of attracted you to this ?
Um, I think, I think a little bit of column A, a little bit [00:01:00] of column B. Um, so I've been I think I first heard about Bitcoin in 2011 but I like. , I think I immediately wrote it off as like, that's never gonna work.
It's a scam. Um, I recall at some point downloading Bitcoin core to my Mac and it didn't, and it didn't run like, or I didn't think it was working, so I just like, this is stupid. Um, but I really got sort of hardcore into it, I think in 2000, uh, later, 2012, 2013. And for me, I remember the really, the aha moment was, well, there are a couple, a couple things.
One of them, the aha moment for me was like, oh, this is going to separate. the state from its control of money, which can like, make a lot of things better. But on a more practical note, I was running a business where I was doing cloud sourced, uh, I'd be like out cloud sourced software testing.
And so that meant I had like 50,000 testers around the world. Like they were just. , sort of like customers would say, Hey, I'll pay you this much money per bug you find. And then they would go like, help them test. It [00:02:00] was like some more of more exploratory testing. But long story short, I had to pay people every month.
Most people were in the Philippines and India. And so like, uh, I forget, uh, one of the options we had is PayPal. And I think around that time, like India got into a fight with PayPal and. Or as I said, like, or like, you can't use PayPal India for a period of time anyway. There's some sort of like payment issue.
I had people that like for some reason couldn't get paid by PayPal. And I saw, I was like, oh wow, I could just like pay them with Bitcoin. Cuz at the time it was like, it was like a small amount of money, you know, maybe it was like $50 or something like that. It wasn't like it wouldn't wanna make a wire transfer and often these people wouldn't be able to receive them.
but like Bitcoin, Bitcoin fees were nothing back then. That was like, I could say like, well, you know, I'm sorry the other way didn't work, but I can pay you in Bitcoin. Like, and, and that made the couple people that couldn't receive payments very happy. Um, so I was interested in the, in the, the money and payments.
But then I like quickly, like, like, I guess I'm not a, I mean I live in a finance city in Hong Kong where [00:03:00] everybody's like in finance and they spend every day. Securitizing things and like, I don't know, you know, whatever they do, like Excel spreadsheets. So I'm not like really a finance person.
And so I don't really, like, if I wanted to work in finance, I would go work for one of the banks that are outside . So I like quickly was like, okay, this is really cool and I hope this works, but what other cool stuff can we do with it? And I quickly saw, oh, like, well, Satoshi said the first interesting thing is names, names on, on top of, uh, on top of, uh, sort of something like, Um, and I think I looked at the Namecoin Project and it was like pretty, it's pretty rough.
Like , it was like pretty, like, it looked like it was like a, you know, computer science academic department, like, sort of like hacked together over beers in the weekend sort of thing. And I was like, okay, well it's kind of interesting. But then, fast forward at some point on Hacker News, I saw.
Ryan and Muneeb had launched uh, what was called OneName. Which was basically like a really nice, like front end on Namecoin and like, and it had like, the business case was [00:04:00] like a Bitcoin white pages, like when you look up people by their name and send them Bitcoin, you get a Bitcoin wallet. It . It was actually one of the first like things in Bitcoin that was like really nice.
Like, like they had, like, it looked really nice. It worked really well. It was an onboarding process and I was like, wow, this is so cool. Like these guys are thinking the way I'm thinking. And then I reached out to to them and like Ryan replied and I like met up with him in New York for breakfast I think quickly after that.
And uh, yeah, I was just like a really enthusiastic community member from like almost when they launched and then. Yeah, I don't, I don't wanna just keep, keep rambling, but like, that's, that's how I got into it. Like, you know, Bitcoin, Bitcoin and quickly into other things. But like, at the same time, I just found a bunch of other Bitcoiners here in Hong Kong, um, and a friend, someone who became a friend, like, pulled me out.
Like I was, we had a Facebook group going on and he's like, Hey, we're meeting up by like the pier. Like you should come out and see these other people that you're chatting with. Um, and so like, I think in that group was. I think like Arthur Hayes was there and then like, uh, BitMax and [00:05:00] like a bunch of other people that have gone on to do various things.
He was like, yeah, I think we should really start like a Bitcoin association in Hong Kong. Um, and so we sort of started that process and we like built a community here. One of the biggest meetup groups, um, you know, had had conferences, like lots of all the stuff's history and many of those people went on to do very exciting things in this space, very.
Yeah, we, you covered a lot there. It's super interesting. Um, the, yeah, the mechanical Turk style kind of like crowdsource thing is, is interesting. Um, I'm sure you wish there was Lightning back then and make it a hell of a lot easier to get those, those payments sent out, or, or maybe not. It sounds like, is it, is lightning?
Larry: it was, I mean if you think about it, like from a developer product company integration perspective, it was so easy to add Bitcoin support. All I had to do was just add like, Field, they just had to fill in their Bitcoin address and click save, and then I could just send them Bitcoin. No interaction needed, but like if I had to ask 'em to use lightning, [00:06:00] like, I mean, it would be interactive, right?
So they'd have to like send me an invoice. They'd have to be a way for them to generate, like they'd have to, you know, they'd have to like generate the whole process on the website. So they'd have to be like, okay, well you have like, you have one Bitcoin. Well, it would've been one Bitcoin back then.
But you, one Bitcoin is owed to you, right? You have to withdraw it now, right? And then, so you'd click on, like, you'd like have a space to put your invoice in. You'd have to go to your lightning node, generate an invoice, paste it into my website, and then my website and lightning node would have to process it then.
So like I have to run a whole bunch of servers. Like, like Bitcoin is so much more elegant, right? Cause it's totally asynchronous. Like, all I need is one line of like, like Charact. And then I can just send the Bitcoin transactions. I, I would actually just like print it off as like a, on paper, I think, and go through it, or not paper, but like a, you know, like a spreadsheet.
I think I dumped it as like a CSV and I would just go through manual with my wallet and send out the Bitcoin each people. But with Lightning, it would've been so much more complicated. Not, not, I think like Lightning is would've been great if, like we were talking about like millions of [00:07:00] people using lightning and like, you know, trying to minimize fees.
But at that, at that time when fees were nothing and like it was a new thing, it was super. Got it. Okay.
Jake: Um, can you place me on the, the time, time when Namecoin was out and then when Onename also came out?
Larry: I don't know exactly when Namecoin started. I mean, I know it was the, uh, first, it was the first Altcoin, the first, it was a fork of Bitcoin was some functionality added.
I, I mean, I would just be making up numbers. It was sometime before my time in Bitcoin. Um, and I believe, I believe, uh, One name? Uh, I think they were working on it in the fall of 2013, and I think it launched early in 2014, was my recollection of timeframe.
Jake: Okay. So name coin Pre 2013. Got it. Part of the reason I'll ask is, is one for historic references, cause I just don't under, I don't know these things, but you mentioned that one name was one of the first [00:08:00] examples of like, almost like a product focus crypto thing, which especially early, it seemed like you had to be a hacker dev kind of guy to do anything with Bitcoin and even to this day.
I, I'd say that's still largely a, a big issue outside of the centralized exchanges where like onboarding and a lot of these processes or once you, once you do it once, it's kind of easy to grok and you can move those over to other wallets and stuff. But for the average person, it's still very, very hard to groc uh, crypto.
Larry: absolutely. Um, I think there's a general problem, like, um, and I just noticed this again this past weekend, is that like there's, um, there are people that are like developers and they're very good engineers and like, but like the really, really technically smart engineers, they kind of want to do the technically complicated things they don't want to do, but like, but like the technically complicated things are actually the easy things.
Like it's just like math, right? You. You can [00:09:00] do it, right? But like the front end stuff, which they're not attracted to is more like, like art. Art, right? Like you need to figure out, you need to think, you need to put your feet in the, use the user's shoes. And you need to think about like, okay, I'm coming in from this when I have no idea.
Like, I'm not a developer, I'm not a Bitcoin. Or like, how do I make, how do, how do I make an interface that like makes sense to these people? And like, I mean, like, I mean, I mean, Ryan for sure had that sense and you could tell, and there are, there are people we have now in the ecosystem, like, um, like Ken at Xverse, he's a really awesome product guy because he's able to like put, um, himself in the user's shoes and say, okay, how can we make this great for users?
Whereas like the really, like, quote unquote hardcore hackers, they like, they aren't really interested in that. So they like, they're interested in technical complexity and so, As soon as they have to learn something about how do I make the front end look really nice, and like, how do I make it easy for people to use?
Or like, oh, I'm not interested in that. And the reason, and I think that they'll, I mean, I'm just, I'm [00:10:00] imagining why people don't don't like this. I think it's because maybe they're not people, person, people, people. And , it's very easy to like, oh, I just changed some css.
Or you make some pictures, or like, you write some words. Um, and yeah, technically that's not that. , but like the hard part is figuring out well, like, which CSS to put and like, which words to write and which things to draw, because that requires understanding other people. And like, that's hard because there's no right answer, right.
You can just like, it's just, it's intuition and taste and gut. Yeah. I,
Jake: I can imagine too the, the feedback loop. Programming proper. It's very quick and clear, and the feedback loop of product design is much more nuanced. I saw a, I saw a meme yesterday where it's like, uh, you know, doing UX research and it's like, it's gonna work great.
They'll, they'll, it'll be super easy, and then it shows like a picture of a guide. He is like, the chair is upside down, and he's like, standing on it all awkward. And it's like, no, you just, you just put the four legs on the ground and sit on it with your butt, but they'll [00:11:00] figure out a way to break it in the worst way.
Just because people just do some weird shit.
Larry: Absolutely. Yeah. That, that makes me think of like my second grade, like elementary school class. They gave us a homework assignment once where it was like you have to write a paper on like, like how to make a peanut butter sandwich. and like . And then most people were just like, you just take out the peanut butter and like the jelly and you put it on the sandwich, and like the teacher's like, okay, you have to, like, we, we actually had to make them the next day.
And like people were like, well, you didn't, you didn't say open the open the top. You said just take the peanut butter and put it on the the bread. Right, right. Like, yeah. Yep.
Jake: You gotta make it idiot proof. 100%. Okay. Absolutely. Well then through that then, I think one of the big things that we hope DDS do decentralized identity is that we make.
you know, sending to and fro dead simple. Cause I can see, you know, Jake blockchain dot btc. Uh, so discovery is much more easier. Uh, and you have that trust in that. But maybe just take a step back. Could you just in your [00:12:00] own words, could you tell me what, what is a decentralized identity? What are kind of the components of that?
Larry: Um, well, so when I think about, I don't, I guess I don't think about decentralized identity in those. Like with those specific words a lot. Um, I, when I see d I d I think specifically of the W three c uh, initiative, um, which came out of the de Decentralized Identity Foundation. Which what is now Hiro pbc, previously Blockstack pbc was a co-founding organization of. And that's a relatively complicated standard that like, that I don't. . As of now, I hasn't really got a ton of adoption. So I really associate, like, like those, that word with that specific standard. I think more in generally of names and names for identities and names for, I mean, names are basically identities and they can point at people, they can point out things.
So I think, uh, like, and when it comes to being [00:13:00] decentralized, that's more of. Who owns it and who controls it. And I think we, by decentralized we mean like names that we control, like the, like custodial names. Like I custody my own name. I don't have a name that's like rented from a US government corporation or one of their contractors,
So that's what I think about. I don't, I don't think specifically about DiDs as like, look, when I see people talk about DiDs I think they're talking about that. And so maybe I may be confused. , um, got it.
Jake: Okay. And that's kind of what I'm wondering cuz the way that you are framing names, um, it sounds like you would, you could also put email addresses and things in that same bucket, or would you, would you separate them?
Larry: Yeah, I think, I mean, I think it's all, I mean, they're all names. They're all names. I think they're, they're all very interesting. Um, I think the email in particular, like the whole user at domain thing, like that's a, that's something from a standard called the Internet identifier. And there's like a, there's a RFC for that.[00:14:00]
Uh, that's actually what Lightning uses for Lightning addresses. , we're gonna, I know we're gonna talk about Noster later, but that's what the, the NIP-05 uses for, um, for their identity thing. And that's interesting because it was designed like in sort of like a sub, like a, a way where like the user is owned by the domain.
Like, like you're given your name at the pleasure of the domain. So if you're, if you're firstname.lastname@example.org, right? Like, like you're renting Larry from Gmail, they own you. Which makes a lot of sense for, for, um, things that require servers like email.
Like, I mean like, like my, uh, my name only is like controlled by the email server, right? That's what it's talking to. But it doesn't really make so, so much sense when it comes to things like Lightning or Bitcoin or, or Stacks or whatever, because they're custodial. Like I own the name. I'm not at anywhere else.
Like I am Larry, I'm not Larry at like big corporation. Um, [00:15:00] so I think, uh, does that make sense? It does.
Jake: I I'm just thinking it, it, it's, it's cool to get into the nuance of this cuz you do see kind of like your thoughts of it versus like, my pulse of the culture of it. And the way I'd word it is like some people, not the bitcoin maxes per se, but the Bitcoin purist will, will view it as, Bitcoin is separation money of, of state.
So we need it as fast as possible. It's like this panacea of the future of how we're gonna spend currency full stop. Mm-hmm. not. And the op, the, the other new, more nuanced take would be like, you know, Bitcoin could be collateral. You move into fiat when you need it. They inter intermingle and coexist for a long time to come.
And, uh, the d i d. People that I see treat it like that same panacea where it's like, this is Uncorruptible id, this is, this is me online. And if we don't have that, crypto's gonna fail kind of thing. Like email. Email is [00:16:00] a tornado cashish way to stop us, so we need D IDs. I see him as that. It's like there's nuance of it, which is kind of your take is how I view it, versus like the full stoppers are like, we need DiDs because this it's a natural extension of Bitcoin's ethos put to identity.
Larry: Okay. Well, I, I mean, I think, I think we need them as well. I mean, like, and I wouldn't say, I guess I'm, I'm just sort of like, Rambling on about internet standards, the way people, like people normally talk versus what I, what I interpret when they talk.
But I think it's, I think it's definitely needed. So, there's an interesting debate between blue Matt, Matt Corallo ,and who's one a well known Bitcoin dev and I think a bunch of Lightning people. And he was sort of like, and I share his opinion, which is that the whole LNURL address thing is ridiculous because they're taking supposedly censorship resistant money and adding a bunch of layers of censorship and trust in it. And that's exactly the thing that which you know, if you want to call a DiD or like a decentralized name [00:17:00] solves, right? Like if you're, if I'm sending you censorship resistant money that like, In a transaction that's supposed to be trustless. By putting trust in the name to address mapping, like where I have to trust that some name is giving me the right address, then I'm like totally corrupting the whole thing like what problem am I solving?
If I'm gonna just trust, like are you essentially asking the US government, like who's lightning node should I be sending this? Like should I be asking for an invoice? and then you just like go government. They're like, oh, we'll, we'll tell you this node. You have no idea if it's the right node or not.
Like why would you do that? If you wanted transaction to the US government, we had SVB, now we have like JP Morgan Chase, right? I think that, like, I think I, I'm a pretty, I think I'm pretty maximalist on like. Decentralizing, like centralization and like reducing trust.
Like it just, it's important to think about what problem we're solving. Like we already have PayPal, like, it, it's silly to go, like, for example, like things like Strike where they're like, [00:18:00] well, lightning is really hard. I'm, I'm, I feel like I'm, I'm criticizing the Lightning a lot here. I love lightning.
I travel with my Lightning node, but like every time I run into a Lightning problem, the, the things that I hear from the Lightning people are usually like, well, you should use this other wallet, which is, Actually sort of centralized custodial, or you should use this protocol, which has all of these trusted things in it.
And I'm like, okay, well if I wanted to use Strike, I would just use PayPal, right? Cuz PayPal and Strike are the exact same thing except one has. It says the word SATs after the number in the database and the other one has the word, um, USD, right? Like, it's not like it's not exciting that you can like make a centralized database and name it sat and turn, go around.
What would be exciting is if we can get lighting to the point where it's like actually really user-friendly and like actually works like all the time instead of requires people who either work for the company or like run a bunch of DevOps to do it well said. ,
Jake: I'm curious of your take on what, what is the current landscape of, of, [00:19:00] I'm using DiDs again, but you could, you could, you could take it how you, how you want, but what is the current landscape of people who, like, where is it being done the best in your opinion?
So like I've, you said, you mentioned W3C, I've seen Web5, something called ION. We have BNS, LNURL. These are the ones we've mentioned so far in the call. Um mm-hmm. , out of all the things that are currently being worked on and out, What has the best, like, balance of the most things? What do these kind of things stack currently in the landscape?
Larry: I think it's, uh, it's really, really hard to say which one is the best thing. I think if you're looking at like reading a decentralized social media network. I think Noster right now is, has made the most progress. And the reason I, the reason I bring that up is, The, the web quote unquote Web5 stuff.
My understanding is that's what they're trying to do. The same with Blue Sky. But as far as I know, no one like Web5 is not ready yet and like [00:20:00] Web5 isn't go going on since it's comes outta the decentralized identity foundation, which we were originally involved with, and that's like 2015, I think. And like it's still not, it doesn't seem like it's done. So it's, it seems very complicated and as far as I know, like it hasn't, it doesn't have any users. So like that's off the list. And then there's Blue Sky, which I saw an email about. They have like a wait listed app.
I don't know if anybody use using this either. I have to try it out yet. There's something on Ethereum called, I think it was, it was called Farcaster but I think it just renamed Warp Caster now maybe. That seems to have a lot of users and I'm not really deep into the Ethereum space. I did ask for like an invite, but like, I'm kind of confused because like if someone is handing out invites that I can only get on through like a Twitter dm then like how is this decentralized
Yeah, yeah. And then I didn't understand what was happening when I was signing on. It was asking for me to like sign things with MetaMask. after I already provide an email address. It was just really confusing what was going on. But I think that's a, to me it's a lot of like . [00:21:00] Ethereum. So I think Noster gets it like, and they have people using public-private key cryptography as identity.
Where they haven't really figured it out yet, is, um, how to have names like identities that people own. Basically they made this beautiful like social, decentralized social network and then said like, oh yeah, we want names. It would be better if we had like some names so we know who is who, but like let's just use the government name system.
like to do that. And it's like, well, what problem are you solving guys? Like the problem was that you didn't like when. when people were able to take away identities and now you just move to identity system where like, they, literally, the F B I is like, you know, every time, every week they're seizing domain names left and right.
So why would you do that ? But that comes from a bunch of cultural issues in their, in their community. So I think that they're, they're very interesting. No. Okay. I think that there's a lot of, there's a lot of, uh, a lot of potential there. And, uh, you know, once we work around some of the, the bitcoin fundamentalist culture in, in the space, I.
I think we'll able to [00:22:00] bring in a lot more people and make it really interesting. Very cool. Yeah,
Jake: I I also tried Farcaster, or unless I got an invite via the dms, didn't complete it, sign it up. Cause I got, cause I got confused as well. I'm like, I don't know what, I don't know what I'm doing. I'm, I'm download some app on my computer.
I'm not doing this. Um, I will say, I think Zion might be the first Web5 app that's using the Web5 standard that just launched a couple weeks ago. Oh really? Okay. Might be. Might be something to check out. Yeah. They had a V1 that didn't have it. I think V2 DIS launch. And it does, they're the first to use it.
They've been, they've been, they've been hyping that up. I love jump into Nostr then. Cuz Nostra has been, it's been all in the news the past few months. All the Bitcoins are loving it. Uh, some people are saying it's like a paradigm shift in, uh, like internet, how we communicate. And it could be the, it could, the way it's constructed could be a, a foundational layer for the next wave of whatever we built on top of that.
Can you gimme the brief overview of what
Nostr is a very simple protocol that allows, it basically allows clients to subscribe to other accounts. So you can say like, "Hey, I wanna know all the events that account A publishes." And then what it does is instead of connecting to one server, it connects to like potentially a dozen different, different sort of semi servers that are called relays. And it asks the relay, it says,
"Hey, relay, I want to know everything you know about account A, please tell me when you get an event about that." and then Account A can then publish their events to one or more relays.
And these events will get distributed and then they'll sort of eventually find me, like, so I'll eventually be told like, oh, account A, he posted a news update, he updated his profile. He sent a DM to you, like this sort of thing.
The protocol is very simple and it lets you move the logic that you usually have to put in like the Twitter application server and like move all of that logic to the client. So it's running either in your web browser or running, on [00:24:00] an app on your phone. And by doing that and making the relay, which is essentially the server really dumb and have no logic in it, that means anybody can run a relay. And you can use any relay and you can potentially use many relays,
which sort of removes the stranglehold on having someone one, be responsible for what everybody says, and two, be in the position to decide if what you say is appropriate or not. Because in this sort of architecture, one Relay could say, "Hey, you know, we don't want to have anything that's like against the Catholic church because we are believers, right?"
And then they could censor everything that's like blasphemous. But it wouldn't matter because you know, you're connecting to a whole bunch of different other relays and one of those relays would probably let your message through. Does that make sense?
Jake: I'm, I'm gonna, I'm gonna spin it back just to make sure I get it.
So in, in the kind of web twoish world, you just have a central server or servers mm-hmm. , and you just pull it down and, and they're the source of truth. In Nostr you almost have like a peer-to-peer ki I guess you could, I'm thinking like BitTorrent, where you're just like getting a, you clicked a bunch of nodes [00:25:00] and you're just collecting what is true about whatever that public key says, and it's just pulling from whatever's, whatever you can get nearby and push it into your local client.
Larry: uh, sort of, I guess I, I'm trying to think of a better way to explain this. I don't explain Nostr very often. What about like, imagine like, Like a bulletin board, like a physical in the, in like meat space bulletin board where you like post, you know, you like at a university or school where you like, use a stapler and like staple a message on it, right?
Mm-hmm. , have you ever seen those? Like, so imagine like, uh, you know, like, I don't know, like maybe your community has like a hundred different bulletin boards, like flyers, right? For like a concert or something like that. You go put 'em up on the wall. So like what you could do is you could, it's like you could think of noster, you could think of like the relays as like a bulletin board.
Where like anybody can like staple things up there and like, and so when you wanna make a message, you just go run around to all a hundred bulletin boards and you like staple up your flyer, right? You know, maybe like three people will like, and three of the bulletin boards, someone will rip it down or they'll like put something over it.
But as long as people [00:26:00] can find one bulletin board, they can see what you said. So it's sort of like that except the difference is that like the bulletin board tells you when there's a, like a flyer on it. That's like something that you're interested in. Got it. So it's not peer tope cuz the peers aren't talking directly to each other.
But there's like . This bulletin board in the middle where anybody can post to it and then like anybody can subscribe to it and like get all of the interesting things they're interested in.
Jake: Okay. And, and I as a Nostr user, choose the bulletin board that I want to pay attention to. And that's the relay, which is the bulletin board.
Larry: Yeah. Like there's, there's a lot that's theoretically yes. But the way, the way in practice it works right now is that you choose a client to use Nostr, and then that client just has like a bunch of relays it uses by default, and you can like add different ones and you can sort of manage it, but there's, it's not really a hundred percent clear, like how much users are gonna know about that.
And . The way that works is that. I were to send a message on Nostr, I would also in that message, like say, [00:27:00] say it's a tweet, right? If I'm making a tweet on Nostr. In that message there'd be some data about like what are the relays that I usually use? So that way when someone gets that message, they could also be like, oh, not only does like Larry use Relay A, he also uses relay B, C, and D.
Maybe I'll just also watch relay's B, C, and D. That way. For some reason, Larry stops appearing on on Relay A. I could also get the information from B. D So it's not really clear how much, like, I think it sort of makes sense as a technical user, but as a product person, I think about this, and that's one of the questions I have is like, how are, how are users gonna know, how are users gonna deal with relays?
Like, how are they gonna know? I know I need more relays, or I need to pay a relay, or I need to. It's not working because of the relay. And that's like a, so as a product person, I think I'm like, that's a question I have about Nostr. I think it's a, to this point, it's sort of like hasn't really been that big of a problem, but like it's definitely a problem waiting to happen.
Jake: Yeah. As as it scales, I can definitely imagine is the. is the way that it's constructed. I'm just [00:28:00] imagining like because of the relay construction, you could get these weird silos of information and I've seen small, small pockets of this where you get like, mm-hmm , your follower account is different across different people's, whatever.
And I think part of that's because different relays see different things, so there's different truths, if you will, that we don't really have that issue with web two because of the centralized nature of that. So absolutely one, one, is that correct? But the two, is that something that. As the scales, is that something that's just gonna be a problem or it's solved at the relay level, or
Larry: curious about that?
Well, I mean, it's just a protocol and so there's no, it's not like Bitcoin where there's like global state, like there's no way you can ever know, like the set of all Nostr relays. Like I could be running a Nostr relay right here, like, you know, in my apartment just for me and whoever's here.
And you'd never know about that. And a relay, it doesn't have to tell you if someone's following you. I think there's a feature that allows that, but it doesn't have to, they could lie, right? . So there's just no way, [00:29:00] there's no way you could ever know.
I mean, if you ask like someone really famous. I dunno. I just went to the Black Pink concert a couple, couple weeks ago. Like, I dunno if you know, black, pink, um, but like, so they call their fans blinks.
And if you ask, if you ask them like, how many fans do you have in the world? They have no idea, right? I mean, maybe they have a website for their really hardcore fans and they register. But like other people that are fans that like, you know, are like closet fans or like don't, like, you never know how many fans you have.
Like it's just like a fact of life. And I think in Web 2.0 you can look and say, hey, say I have. , I have like, you know, this many followers, but do you really have that many followers? I mean, like, people can look at, can look at your tweets without logging in, right? They may just like, like you so much, they go to like your Twitter on the website, like you know, every day to read your tweets, but they never like create an account.
So I think it's just like, I think it's just like a matter, it's more a matter of like user expectations. They've gotten really, we've as user have gotten used to like seeing this like hard metric and just taking it as meaning, being like a real number, but. , [00:30:00] what does it really mean? It doesn't really mean, it just means that like, that, like a hundred people have clicked the button to follow me on Twitter.
That's why I have a hundred followers. But like, it doesn't really mean I actually have a hundred followers. Um, got it. So I think it's ability to change your expectations. Okay.
Jake: One more question on Nostr broadly is, is it. Is the protocol public by nature? Cause I think I saw something where I could type in someone's Pub key and I could see their feed, which was, I remember when I first did that with a BNS name where I could see their wallet.
I was like, this feels dirty for some reason. Like it's very private. Yeah. Um, is that how the protocol's constructed where it's not just, I could see your feed as far as I could tweet you post, but I can see what you see in your view. If I type in your public key.
Larry: Uh, yeah, that's, that's it's just a public, I mean, yeah, that's just how it's designed.
And I think, uh, I mean, it feels, it feels weird, but it's not, not [00:31:00] really that much different than Web two. I mean, the difference is, is the only people that can see, I mean, you couldn't see your, like, if you think about it, if you go to a Twitter, if you take Twitter as an example, like I can go look at Twitter and see who you follow.
And then I can click on, I can click on your profile. I can click on who you follow. I can see who you follow. And you know, maybe you follow 50 people and I could use the API to create a feed of those 50 people. It's not like it's just that Twitter has chosen not to make that easy, but like all the information that we have that we need to do that is already there.
Like it's already on the internet. Like you could make, you could use the, if you didn't have an api, you could scrape the Twitter website and do this today. Got it. I think that people just, people just don't do it. But like, things like GitHub do it though. Like GitHub has a, a little function, I dunno if you've seen it, where you can click, like you can have an organization, you can click like view as public or view as certain user.
That way you can see like, if I'm using this user, how does it look? Um, like for example, the stack, the stack form has that feature as well too, right? I like, as an admin, I can just [00:32:00] click like view as wherever and see, see what people see.
Jake: Okay, so, so just like Bitcoin, it's like, it feels weird to have your transactions on the public ledger per se, but there's nothing stopping, you know, your bank from doing that if they wanna make it a feature.
It's just a, a design decision in some choice. Absolutely.
Larry: I think, and I didn't, didn't Venmo like ch choose to make these things public? Wasn't that one other interesting? Yeah,
Jake: you could, you could snoop on your friends and see that they're, you know, going to Chipotle or McDonald's or whatever.
Yeah. So I think it's, I think it's good in that like, um, it's good to sort of like, it's, it's as, I dunno if it's generating outrage, but like to make people know what they're sharing. Um, if you don't want people to, to have this information, you should either one, don't put it on the internet or two, you should like, use like cryptography to like encrypt it so that other people can't see it.
And so that's sort of like, that's what's happening. I mean that's the same thing with with Nostr dms. They're dms, they're in and encrypted. , [00:33:00] but you can see the metadata is not encrypted. So like I could see that you're, anybody in the world could see that you're d DMing me on like Nostr, but they just can't read with the messages.
Got it. Okay.
Jake: Interesting. And then on the Nostr point, you built something and you kind of got roasted on Twitter for a little bit about it. Mm-hmm. , um, what did you add to Nostr? What, what is this? Uh, 69 as it's called. What, what are you building?
Larry: Yeah. And NIP-69. I mean, I'm calling it Nostr names.
And so like for those that aren't familiar, like the way Nostr works is you get like a public key that's sort of like a Bitcoin address, that's your identity. And then you have a private key, which is like the password for how you like log, how, how you prove to, to, um, It's an noster that you are, you like, if you wanna post something, you have to sign it with the private key.
But like the public key is how other people follow you. So if I wanna follow you, I need to know your public key, which like a Bitcoin address is this long list of letters. It is not like [00:34:00] I couldn't read, if you asked me to like, tell everybody to follow me on Nostr, I'd say like, oh, well follow N Pub eight three.
Like, nobody wanna listen to this. It would be, it would be like two minutes of me talking. Um, so. So this is like, um, really obvious user problem. And I had a friend, um, a friend that works at, uh, works in Lightning that bothered me for the past year to like, Hey, you should look at Nostr. It's really cool, but they really need names.
And then like when the second friend that I knew started also to asking me to look at Nostr, I was like, okay, maybe I should finally look at this protocol and see what's going on. And so what I did was I made it so that you could use really any. You could use DNS names, any names, with Nostr
but I made a specific implementation for BNS, so that you could use dot BTC names on Nostr. I made a, a Nip 69, which is a proposal of how to do that. And then I implemented it in the fork of the Damus client. And I've also, done that in the Iris Web client. I actually haven't announced that yet for, for various [00:35:00] reasons.
But obviously people in this podcast will now, now know that part of the reason is I've simplified the protocol and I wanted to simplify it both places before I get people using it. But the reason, um, there are a couple reasons I think that I was roasted. One was because at the time the Damus client, which is iOS, was in test flight.
And the test flight was full. So it had 10,000 users and no one else could use it. And William was getting denied by Apple. He was trying to publish it in the app store and they were like rejected, rejected over and over. And so I like he saw that I was pushing a fork of it to test flight and I think he jumped to conclusion that I'm like gonna take his name and try to like, have like a separate Damus and compete with him with like the same.
which like was never, never the intention because like one I like, I'm a software developer who like entrepreneur that's built products. I know that like there's a massive amount of work on that. Like two, like he has a huge network effect. And three, like I totally respect the guy and like, I mean, there's [00:36:00] no way I can compete with him.
He's the one that, that created this, created this genius product. But then at the same time, there was a, there's a, there's the like a few people that run these paid services based on the existing identity standard. And they were very, they've been very threatened by my proposal. Like when I first put it at, like the, one of the gentlemen was just writing these like mouse massive multi-paragraph like things about how like, BNS is totally centralized, and his thing that's runs on government domain names is totally not centralized , despite the fact that it runs on his server in his basement.
Like, like it was, it is really, it was really funny. And he sort of egged them on and the rest of the community was just like, well, They don't really, they're either not technical or just didn't, you know, people don't look into things. They're just like, well, I, I respect this person and that person, they hate Larry.
So they're like, Larry must be horrible. So everybody just piled on for like a, a week or two. I got uninvited from a, a, a conference I'm going to next week. I was supposed to be speaking about Nostr, but then when the local, my friend Dominic, who's been running Bitcoin Vietnam for years, he's a great guy.
Like, he's one of the core organizers. He's like, [00:37:00] yeah, Larry. Yeah. So, so can you just like, um, tell me what. , you know, what's your name and title? I just want to just don't wanna update the conference organizers. And they're like, he's like, Larry, what did you do? They told, they came back to me and were like, we don't want this person to speak.
Um, so I don't know. Anyway, I'm sure that like, it's just, it's, I'm gonna go there anyway and just talk to people in per person. Um, but there's a lot of tribalism, uh, especially, uh, especially in Nostr.
Jake: Got it. Okay. Interesting. Yeah. The, the, the dogmatism of crypto strikes again. If people wanna use this, what's the easiest way to, to try it out?
Larry: Uh, you can go to newinternetlabs.com. So newinternetlabs.com/nostr, that's N O S T R. And there's a place where they can get the test flight link and they can try out with their dot BTC name. I'll update that once. Sort of officially announced the web iris fork. Um, but that's, uh, that's what they can try it out.
Now I've got some things a little bit medium [00:38:00] term that will come out like that. I think that, what I really want to do is I want to get as many, I want to get like as many communities into Nostr as possible. And I think that's like, If you look at the founder Fiat Jeff, like, I think it's one of the things he wants to do, like as well too.
He wants different communities to use Noster, not just like, I don't think anybody, well, I mean I think some people do. Some people want it to be just Bitcoin Maximalist that like, uh, hate everybody else. But I think, uh, I think for Nostr to be really successful, it, like, it would be great to have other communities in it.
Um, so I have some things, uh, I'm gonna hopefully add some more name support that will sort of incentivize people to do. .
Jake: Excellent. Okay. Yeah, cuz I, I tried, I downloaded dams, did as best as I could to, you know, use Naster directory and do some other things. Got confused again, so I was like, if it takes me more than 15 minutes, I'm, I'll save it for another time.
Uh, but I might try this out and see if we can get some of the Stacks folks in there to, uh, start to play out with Noster and get
Larry: involved. Yeah. One that, one of the key things I have to add is the ability to [00:39:00] search by, uh, dot BDC name. I've added that in my, in the Fork of Iris. That hasn't been announced yet, but like, that's one thing I wanted to put in Damus is my fork of Damus is called SixT9.
It's a intentionally bad name because I'm trying to indicate that like I have no, in no intention of like competing with Damus, like I really hope. I can like put this back as a pull request in it. They'll accept it, but I don't, I mean, I don't even think he would even, I think he's probably blocked me to get up too
Um, yeah. But, uh, but yeah, like, it's just a, it's a play in the number, but also T nine in Hong Kong is like a, a really strong typhoon. Um, so that's like, that's a joke. , it's always,
Jake: always good to weaponize the memes of production when you can. So, so well done on that, Larry. Uh, . Okay. Well, I guess last, last question.
You mentioned something while we were off call about something you're working on. Um, so we've, we've covered a lot. We'll have links, insurance for all, all the good stuff we talked about, but what's, what's the, what's the latest thing that you've been working
Larry: on hacking at? [00:40:00] Um, so I'm super interested in Ordinals, like everybody else I think has been super interested in ordinals.
Just because I think it's brought the tinkerers back to Bitcoin, which is the people that just wanna like, Hey, like I want to try to build something cool, but I don't want to invest like. Three years and becoming a Bitcoin core developer to do it. So I'm super interested in that.
And so this past weekend, I had a Bitcoin meetup here. I reconnected with a friend I hadn't seen since before Covid, who's long, long time Bitcoin. And so we spent a weekend hacking on a new sort of tool. And what the tool we'll do is it'll let you see inscriptions when they're in the Mempool. So you don't have to wait for them to confirm. You can just see all the new inscriptions as they're going into the Mempool. Sort of like streaming in and you'll be able to like just like get an idea of what's gonna confirm or not. I think that's gonna be a fun, a fun tool to sort of explore like what's going on with ordinals.
Um, so that's why I'm working over the weekend. It's gonna be available. Uh, I think the address is going to be live org. labs.org. [00:41:00] Um, I'll send that to you to put in the show. Perfect. Um, but I think it's a pretty good tool and I'm also working on, uh, some other al stuff sort of behind the scenes. So, uh, stay tuned on that.
Jake: Very cool. Okay. Yeah, that, that, that would be cool to see the, what's coming down the pipeline before it's, uh, officially living forever on Bitcoin nodes around the world, so that's interesting. Okay. Well, uh, man, this has been a fantastic conversation. Thank you for dropping all your knowledge. , anything that I didn't cover that you wanna close out with?
Larry: Um, not, not that I can think of. I think we talked about a lot. Um. Okay.
Jake: Then maybe, uh, just, just give us, give us the, the usual spiel of links of where we can find you or new internet labs, or anything you're working on.
Larry: Yes. Uh, you can find New Internet Labs at newinternetlabs.com. You can follow me on Twitter at @LarrySilabra
[00:42:00] I'm larry.btc. So eventually you'll be able to follow me on Nostr by following larry.btc. Not today, but very soon.
Jake: Awesome. Well, man, this has been great, Larry. Thank you for, uh, bringing your product-focused mind to crypto. We need more people like you doing that work. thank you for the time.
Larry: appreciate it. Thanks for reaching out, Jake. Great talking to you.