(2023-06-03) Meet fiatjaf The Mysterious Nostr Creator Who Has Lured 18 Million Users And $5 Million From Jack Dorsey

Meet @Fiatjaf, The Mysterious Nostr Creator Who Has Lured 18 Million Users And $5 Million From Jack Dorsey. Disenchanted with social media options like Twitter, the reclusive Bitcoin programmer tells Forbes how he designed his chat-and-payment service for people who dislike corporate control.

Welsh software developer Ben Arc first encountered fellow developer known to the world only as @Fiatjaf in 2019 while hacking into a Pac-Man arcade game to make it accept bitcoin

In his first interview with the press, @Fiatjaf says Twitter’s increasing propensity to ban users had frustrated him. But he was unable to switch to a competitor while retaining his followers

he started developing a new protocol to manage identities—at first for social networks, then for anything else.

The architecture, known as Nostr, lets users take their profiles and their followers to any competitor using the same protocol—a network of interoperable networks

Nostr, short for Notes and Other Stuff Transmitted by Relays

additional $5 million Dorsey donated to Nostr this month.

This article is based on multiple interviews with @Fiatjaf and the people around the world who have joined him in what many consider a social movement.

@Fiatjaf says he was born in 1991 in Brazil’s populous southeastern region

In the early 2010s, while studying economics at an undisclosed university in Brazil, he grew enamored of the Austrian school of economics, which teaches that large economies are too complex to be planned. He discovered bitcoin in 2011, on a website dedicated to a founder of Austrian economics, Ludwig von Mises.

June 2019 when software developer Arc asked for help hacking Pac-Man. Arc shared an idea called Diagon Alley–after a marketplace in the Harry Potter stories–that could theoretically let virtual shop owners move their storefront from Amazon to the dark web and back. Seeing the potential, @Fiatjaf started working on his own version that would work for any kind of identity.

Before the year was over @Fiatjaf’s ideas had matured into what he calls the Nostr Manifesto, describing an open, censorship-resistant global social network

there is no underlying blockchain.

“A lot of the things people wanted to see built on bitcoin,” says Arc, “actually could just be built on Nostr.”

Bitcoin engineer, William Casarin, 34, launched Vancouver, British Columbia-based Damus (as in Nostr-damus) on the Nostr protocol. Initially, it was a weekend project that simplified accessing Nostr in a Twitter-like environment. He incorporated Damus at the end of 2022, and in January, Apple admitted Damus to its App Store

Casarin, who previously worked at bitcoin infrastructure firm Blockstream devised a way for Nostr users to send the tiny bitcoin payments called zaps via the Lightning network. Shortly thereafter, @Fiatjaf added Casarin’s upgrade to the Nostr protocol, letting anyone build to the same specifications

After making bitcoin payments accessible Damus grew to an estimated 160,000 users from 10,000 and total Nostr users jumped to 18 million from 10 million

In early 2021 Dorsey’s attention was brought to Nostr by a Serbian-born developer known as Rockstar. Annoyed that Bluesky CEO Jay Graber failed to mention Nostr in a detailed analysis of decentralized social media ecosystems, he privately messaged Dorsey on Twitter, suggesting he take a closer look

Nostr’s business model is far from certain, and threats to centralize are already on the horizon.

Only insiders admitted by @Fiatjaf have the right to add features to the Github repository. An internal document shared with Forbes shows that he has given seven people the power and few use it. “

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