Offline First Peer-to-Peer Social Networks

An Offline Camp passion talk from Francis Brunelle on P2P networking, from Scuttlebutt to Beaker Browser and beyond

The campers at Offline Camp Oregon included a number of peer-to-peer (P2P) networking enthusiasts such as Francis Brunelle. In a passion talk, Francis introduced us to Scuttlebutt — self-described as “a decent(ralised) secure gossip platform” — and Beaker Browser — an experimental P2P web browser. Check out Francis’ talk below, then scroll down for additional resources.

Francis Brunelle presents “Offline First P2P Social Networks” at Offline Camp Oregon, November 2017

Scuttlebutt is a P2P networking protocol that works well offline and that can be used to build decentralized applications such as social networks. (This guide explains the protocol in more detail.) For more on what makes Scuttlebutt unique from federated social networks such as Mastodon, Francis recommends André Staltz’s article, “An Off-Grid Social Network.” You may also be interested in Patchwork, a decentralized messaging and sharing app built on top of Scuttlebutt.

A screenshot of Patchwork, built on Scuttlebutt

Beaker Browser is an experimental P2P web browser that natively integrates the Dat protocol. You can think of Dat as being an improved version of BitTorrent that’s optimized for sharing folders of data that are constantly changing. This makes Dat a good fit for hosting static websites and building hostless applications because the author of a website or application can publish updates that users can download from anyone on the network and still be sure that they are downloading the same updates as everyone else. (See this blog post for more info). With Beaker, creating a new website becomes as easy as entering a name for the site and clicking on a button to generate a new “key pair.” The “private” key gives the author the power to change the site while the “public” key gives other users the power to find and download the site.

Beaker also comes with built-in APIs that can be used to build all sort of apps. The Beaker team recently developed an example application called Fritter to demonstrate how to build a P2P social network using Beaker and Dat.

For more on Beaker Browser, Dat, and P2P networking, check out our collection of articles on the decentralized web.


Editor’s Note: Participants at Offline Camp Oregon had diverse backgrounds and interests, ranging far beyond the Offline First approach that we came together to discuss. Through short passion talks, campers shared with us some of the hobbies, projects, and technologies that excite them. We’re sharing a taste of that passion with you here as a preview to our upcoming events.