Intro to Scuttlebutt

Session - Scuttlebutt intro by JacobKarlsson and Anders


  • Scuttlebutt - nautical term. The “water cooler” of the ship.
  • It is a network protocol a database and a bunch of clients.

What does it mean to me?

  • Solves problem for sailors wanting to share adventures among each others.
  • Available offline
  • Keeping the connection in the same room. Wifi/bluetooth.
  • Main application is a social network. But other things are possible to build upon it.

More about data and the network graph

  • The reason it works offline is because everything is stored on your computer.
  • [showing of a distributed graph] The rabbit will not see the cat.
  • You dont have to store everything about everyone on the planet. You store 'friends of friends".
  • All the friends help each others with storing the data.
  • Everyone is a backup for everyone.
  • Your view is a very small. You only see part of the graph.

Data integrity

  • Your identity is a cryptographic key. A digital signature.
  • Blockchain => immutable. It can only grow one way.
  • The evidence of edits are always there.


  • You can also put in private messages.
  • It doesn’t leak metadata about private messages.
  • The private messages are sent to everyone, but only one person is able to read it.
  • You can see who sent a private message, but not who it is for.

Q: Does it take much resources?
A: No, it will stay in the social graph.

Q: Will you see the private messages which are not for you?
A: No it will not be shown in the application. The application will only show you private messages
which are for you.


  • Chess
  • GIT
  • Social Media
  • …more


  • Interesting because of social protests and governments could shut down the internet.
  • Scuttlebutt would still run.

Q: What happens when internet collapse.
A: It follows the social graph. It works over any kind of media. USB/Wifi/Bluetooth
It can work completely off the grid.

There are different islands of connections. There were some nazis in Norway using it in isolation.

Getting started

  • Jacob recommends to start using it on a local network.
  • The main client for desktop is called patchwork, the app manyverse is for mobile.

Q: How can we find more information about this.
A: We have created a new webpage to introduce scuttlebutt.

  • This is about ownership about your own blockchain.
  • The coordination of the code is also online.
  • One of the challenges for development are the very local social networks.
  • The headache is that it is not the best tool of being anonymous.
  • It is more about letting people in oppressive regimes have access to the world outside.

Best of scuttlebutt

  • Best part about scuttlebutt is the community.
  • Tool for meeting nice people in real life.
  • The best part is not seeing the whole planet. It is a nice filter for idiots … except for the Norway nazi islands.

Hi that Jacob is me :wave:


Hello @Emile and @JacobKarlsson, welcome!

I also use Scuttlebutt. I like the idea, and I like the people I have met, in the abstract, but I have to say that after a year on the network I have not made many connections. My attempts at starting conversations fall quite flat (example: %SnmxaMynurbQfsupTYQQOWSDLipMyLu5GZgbARohXTM=.sha256). Most of the conversations I seem to intercept are about… developing the Scuttlebutt protocol and the software for it.

Maybe I’m doing something wrong? Any suggestions?

Hej @alberto — I can only share what I have done; a little bit to improve the signal to noise ratio; in general I take who I follow very seriously, letting the network/client do the role of finding content. By this I mean I’ve (kindly) unfollowed several of the developers that are no longer 1 hop away but 2 hops. By doing this, I’ve follow more people that I enjoy reading and contributing to; but also have the visibility of the two hop people via the #channels — so in my case if someone posts nice photography or outdoor adventures I’ll see it. #channels permit a greater visibility for topics you may be interested in.

Following developers on scuttlebutt is akin to drinking from a firehose — which is in a way positive since they “dogfood” by using the network they have built to sustain the network.

Recently, by going to re:web in malmö I was able to do side trips to visit some of these friends that I have made, both in Rønne(DK) and Arnhem(NL); including some of the fine peeps at re:web(SE).


Noted with thanks. I have used channels in the past (especially #solarpunk), but with not a lot of results.

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@alberto — Just to follow up, there has been a bit of discussion on ssb in the last 24h — another is an exploration on how to better deal with the “dogfooding” and discussing a few strategies to avoid a low signal to noise ratio. I’d invite you to consider returning; as there has been an influx of a few solar punk and permaculture peeps.

The discussion, sparked by snailest starts at %i1Xcs0vB9/ARAJPclLRHLEXk/bDjuZpXlle/ZqNNiw0=.sha256 and I’d be more than happy to help you and others out to find the intersection of the social graph and community we all seek.


Cool Emile, thanks for the update! I’ve also not been on SSB for a couple of months, but will check back in soon.

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For those interested, there will be a “ScuttleCamp” in Brazil 2020-06-08T03:00:00Z2020-06-12T03:00:00Z

5-day gathering in a lush, rural village setting, where Butts from around the world can gather to cultivate relationships, share food and language, and practice tending the peer-to-peer garden.

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This looks cool. But the flygskam!

It’s fine, @zelf will take everyone on her boat.


@nadia — with enough time you can find alternatives to flying :wink: For example there is a freighter cruise from Valencia to Rio de Janeiro at 150€ per day. I suspect the incremental CO2 emissions from carrying a person across the Atlantic is minimal :slight_smile:

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wait - what??? got url?


:astonished: ping @alberto @ilaria @matthias another one for the list!


Not to mention money. That freighter would set you back 1800€ one way from Spain to Brazil!

Or you can just ditch the whole flygskam thing all together -had a chat about this with @teirdes the other day.

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Thats fair. This is but one example; some of the other ones are at 62€/day etc… I posted that one with a few moments of googling as an indicative example; but there may be others as am alternative to flying. In my case, I’ve looked at freighter cruises as an alternative to flying; similar to using the train. In some cases you pay by €, or by hr for a more effective transportation route.

The website is called “slow travel” for a reason.


I thought I’d share the statistics on the recent growth of scuttlebutt. I have been modelling the growth of the platform by looking at the growth of the uids over time, and using a method called crow-amsaa that I blatantly stole from the mechanical maintenance world. This method has a “forecasting” ability; you can model the effects of actions to see the impact over time.

In the case of scuttlebutt, I used data created by a robot to get a time series data of the uid growth over time. The proviso here is you may not get a full view of the network and its islands. Time is measured as the days since August 15, 2015, and the graph below shows growth as of seven months ago.


The important thing here is the exponent, β, which was found to be 1.973.

I did a check of this last night, and the graph below shows the deviation between the above fit, and the current results.


There is a small deviation over the last seven months, I’d almost consider this noise. The interesting thing is the growth is still in the “reasonable” band; we have discussed that growth over a β of 5 would look like an eternal September event; we get on average 20 uids growth per day, including users on manyverse (android) and Patchwork *et al.


@nadia & @hugi — I see this made the guardian; I didn't want to fly – so I took a cargo ship from Germany to Canada | Green travel | The Guardian


Wasn’t cheap and took a long time, but seemed like a good adventure. And maybe grounded in a kind of reality that seems almost lost in a way. I have flown to Europe from the US 20 times in my life and it still amazes me every time that you can walk into this metal tube in SF and 10 hours later get off in a European city.

Maybe with less air travel activities like letter and journal writing will become more popular rather than posting selfies and making tweets…