Our Nostr Guide – What Is NOSTR And How To Set Up Your Account?
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Nostr is a robust, open and global messaging protocol that guarantees decentralisation (?) and resistance to censorship (?). The term ‘Nostr‘, an acronym for ‘Notes and Other Stuff Transmitted by Relays‘, aptly encapsulates the essence of its functionality.
Originally developed as an alternative to Twitter, it quickly became apparent that Nostr’s potential far exceeded this initial goal. Indeed, the protocol’s versatility hints at an array of potential applications that go beyond mere social networking.
This comprehensive Nostr guide is designed to provide you with an in-depth understanding of how this innovative protocol functions. Furthermore, we’ll walk you through the entire setup process, ensuring a seamless and straightforward experience.
For those looking to take their engagement a step further, we’ve also included a comparison table to help you select the most suitable Nostr hardware device for your specific needs. This device will provide a secure interface for interacting with the Nostr protocol. Enhancing your user experience.
What Is NOSTR?
Defining itself as a revolutionary messaging protocol, Nostr utilises the principles of public (?) and private (?) key pairs in a similar way as Bitcoin, establishing an environment where user identity is truly sovereign. By publishing via your own public key, you can display a human-readable username through a NIP-05 (?) identifier, while multiple relays transmit your publications. The decentralised nature of this protocol, where relays are abundant and anyone can operate them, prevents central authorities from censorship. This positions Nostr as the leading uncensored global public messaging protocol currently available.
Originally launched as an alternative to Twitter, the potential uses extend far beyond. Its design as a comprehensive protocol rather than a single-use application opens up a world of possibilities. From social media and publishing to marketplace platforms and app sharing. The true potential we are tapping into is still unfolding, as we’re only beginning to explore what this simple but interesting protocol can truly offer.
One of the unique selling propositions of Nostr is the ability to utilise a single identity (?) across various clients or apps. This cross-functionality enhances the user experience, as a positive reputation built in a social media app can benefit the user in a marketplace platform. This interconnected ecosystem of diverse clients exponentially increases the network effect of the protocol. Strengthening with every new user or application added.
Nostr Is A Protocol, Not Just An App
Many people view Nostr as a Twitter-like app, but it is important to understand that it is an entire open protocol. This means that everyone can use it or build on it without permission from anyone. Other examples of protocols are e.g. Bitcoin and e-mail. A Nostr app which is called a client, can be compared to a Bitcoin wallet or to an e-mail provider. Just like competing products on these protocols are compatible, Competing Nostr clients are compatible with each other too.
To send Bitcoin from one wallet to another, the transaction happens on the Bitcoin protocol according to its specific rules. Likewise, if you send an email from a Gmail account to a Protonmail account, the data transfer occurs on the email protocol with its unique regulations. In a similar way: You can send a message from a specific client like Damus to another client like Amethyst, but the data transfer follows the Nostr protocol.
Strengths Of An Open Protocol
The fact that it is an open protocol carries major implications: Firstly, since clients and relays compete under the protocol’s fixed rules, decentralisation and resistance to censorship are assured. Furthermore, the absence of a monopolistic entity dominating the space will fuel innovation. The competition between different clients and relays will boost advancement by permitting trial and error, which ultimately selects the best ideas. The open source nature of Nostr and most of its apps will amplify this force.
As stated earlier, all apps based on a protocol are inter-compatible. Consequently, all apps are compatible, meaning that the network effect operates not just on a client level, but across the protocol. When a new app is launched or an existing one is transitioned to Nostr, it automatically gains the user base of all other apps. Thanks to this compatibility, these users can access the new app using their accounts from other clients. They won’t need to ‘sign up’ and can immediately use their reputations and friend circles on the new app.
Nostr clients will not only gain their own users, but also the users of all the other apps on the protocol combined. This opportunity to gain ‘free’ users provides a significant incentive for new apps to initiate on Nostr and for existing ones to migrate to Nostr. The larger the user base of the protocol, the stronger this incentive becomes!
How Does The Nostr Protocol Work?
The Nostr protocol’s simplistic yet efficient architecture is comprised of three key components: Users, clients and relays. The users generate an account by creating a unique pair of private and public keys, ensuring complete ownership of their identities without any third-party intervention. The secret private key is only accessible to the user and their specific software. Account creation occurs within the client, which is essentially the software application or platform used by users to interact with this groundbreaking protocol. Comparable to Facebook, Twitter, Uber, or Amazon, the client serves as the user’s interface on the Nostr network.
The client maintains communication with multiple relays, often user-selected. These relays facilitate message transfer to and from the client. Both relays and clients have the ability to filter content based on their preferences, with users having the freedom to select or switch to software that aligns more closely with their beliefs. This fosters a decentralised environment that is resistant to censorship. By adopting this structure, the protocol allows for seamless, secure and user-centric communication. This guide provides a deeper understanding of Nostr’s approach to decentralised communication. Highlighting the reasons it stands as an innovative force in the digital world.
Users Of The Network
The Nostr network empowers its users with absolute control over their data and identity. By choosing their preferred client and relays, users can seamlessly switch between multiple clients while maintaining the same account. The unique architecture of the Nostr network eliminates the need for any third-party intervention during account creation. This means there’s no need to go through a Know Your Customer (KYC) process, no need for permissions and no requirement for personal information such as phone numbers, emails or proof of address. On the flip side, this also means that the user carries all responsibility for himself, there is no customer service. When a private key is lost, the account is gone forever.
Nostr is a game-changer, providing a secure and private space for users, where they hold the keys to their digital identity. This is a revolutionary step towards a transparent, user-centric digital world. Bypassing cumbersome registration processes and data sharing. Experience the power of Nostr, where users are the foundation and the driving force of the network.
Nostr Clients Or Apps
Nostr clients are applications or websites that let you interact with your preferred social media feed, they serve as a bridge to the Nostr protocol. The beauty of the protocol lies in its simplicity and flexibility, enabling the creation of diverse clients each with its unique set of features and focuses. Clients with an emphasis on user interface design aim to offer a visually pleasing and user-friendly experience. Alternatively, some clients may prioritise functionality, incorporating features for specific user groups. The versatility of the Nostr protocol even allows for the innovation of clients for unique usage, such as gaming, blogging or direct messaging.
While the initial wave of client development saw a strong tilt towards social media functionalities, the continued evolution and growth of the protocol are beginning to usher in more varied and intriguing applications. A key advantage of using Nostr clients is user freedom. The option to switch between clients according to preference and the ability to access your Nostr identity from any client using your private key, enhances the user’s control and freedom. In essence, Nostr clients act as your gateway to the realm of the protocol, enabling you to interact with the network in a way that aligns with your needs. As the Nostr network continues to grow and innovate: Expect to see an increasing variety of clients, each offering unique features and experiences.
The Nostr network operates on a decentralised framework, making relays its vital components. These relays perform a dual role: Transmitting messages while also storing them. This functionality ensures that users retain access to previous communications if required. This feature, combined with the high level of security and privacy they offer, makes Nostr relays indispensable to the networking experience.
Relays are the backbone of the network, working to promote secure and private communication. They allow the network to be resilient against attempts of censorship. Furthermore, the system respects user privacy by using pseudonyms or profiles. Ensuring that the user’s true identity remains hidden.
Making the Most of Nostr Relay Services
Interacting with Nostr’s relay services is effortless if you’re a Nostr client. The system automatically links you to various relays. However, there’s also the provision to manually connect or disconnect to specific relays per your needs. To enhance the network’s resistance to censorship and to ensure optimal connectivity, being connected to multiple relays is recommended.
If you notice your client loading slowly, increasing the number of connections to relays or choosing better ones can significantly improve the performance. Nostr relay services are available in two categories – free and paid. Opting for paid Nostr relays can serve as a valuable step in combating spam. However, these services will require payment in ‘sats’.
Locating paid relays is easy. A list of available options is provided here. Registering for ‘Pay to Relay’ allows you to bind your Nostr public key and enjoy high-quality, spam-free content. This is a win-win situation, as relay owners can offset their operational costs. With the right set of relays, navigating the Nostr network becomes a seamless experience, offering secure, private and resilient networking solutions.
Nostr And Bitcoin
Nostr and Bitcoin, two distinct protocols, share many similarities due to their origins and intentions. Conceived by a Bitcoin enthusiast who recognised similar centralisation concerns in social media and financial systems, Nostr aims to tackle these issues head-on. It allows users, referred to as ‘Nostriches,’ to broadcast their messages worldwide in a secure, sovereign and permissionless manner using cryptographic keys. Echoing the way Bitcoin transactions are conducted.
This also enables Nostriches to securely store their identity offline, akin to how Bitcoiners use hardware wallets for their Bitcoin. Moreover, Nostr’s design allows for enhanced security and privacy while utilising advanced Bitcoin features like multisig and coinjoin. Both Bitcoin and Nostr are open protocols, crafted with strategic game theory to ensure their success and adoption. Their shared vision of combating centralization and promoting user sovereignty bridges these two protocols. It’s worth noting that Nostr’s capacity to dovetail with Bitcoin adds another layer of potential for privacy and security in the digital world.
The Nostr protocol is paving the way in integrating the Bitcoin Lightning network, a feature that’s being adopted widely among its clients. Users can effortlessly link a Lightning wallet, complete with a Lightning address to their Nostr profile. This powerful integration allows for lightning-fast, highly affordable Bitcoin transactions between users. These transactions, which can serve as small payments or tips, are not only incredibly cost-effective but also globally accessible and resistant to censorship. This makes micropayments even those less than a penny, feasible due to the low transaction fees and direct settlement process.
A unique feature of most Nostr clients is the support for ‘Zaps’ (?). These can be likened to ‘likes’, demonstrating appreciation by gifting a small amount of Sats to the recipient. Furthermore, micro payments with Lightning will be leveraged to combat spam in a decentralised manner, thereby facilitating an economy that operates on the principles of Proof of Work and reputation. Our Nostr guide is a powerful tool for understanding and navigating these complex, but highly beneficial features of the Nostr protocol.
How To Get Started With NOSTR?
Embarking on your journey with Nostr? Here’s a comprehensive guide to ease your initiation. From understanding its functioning to choosing the top-notch Nostr clients and services, we’ve got you covered. Our detailed step-by-step instructions are designed to enable a smooth transition for you. Let’s delve into the fascinating world of Nostr:
In the evolving digital era, it’s essential to stay abreast of the latest technologies, and Nostr is a prime example. As a decentralised social network and messaging protocol, it’s transforming the way we communicate, facilitating seamless, private and censorship-resistant interactions. To optimise your experience, selecting superior Nostr clients and services is crucial. They enhance your overall interaction within the network. Ensuring you receive the best possible connectivity and performance.
- Choose a Nostr client
- Create a private key
- Get NIP-05 verified
- Connect a Lightning address
- Make friends on Nostr!
Choose Nostr A Client
Nostr clients are essentially applications that allow you to connect to the Nostr protocol. The usage of these applications varies, with many acting as social media platforms, while some offer services like blogging, chatting or market places. A comprehensive list of these Nostr clients can be accessed HERE. Your selection of a client depends largely on your intended purpose for it.
It’s crucial to ensure that the chosen client is compatible with your operating system, as not all clients support every operating system. Another key factor to consider is the client’s credibility. While the Nostr environment is blossoming with new apps, some may pose a risk by attempting to steal your keys. Hence, we recommend opting for a client that has gained popularity and trust within the Nostr community. Here are some of the most trusted clients for various operating systems:
Create A Private Key As Your Nostr Account
Maintaining ownership of your Nostr identity is crucial and it’s tied to a pair of keys: A private key (beginning with ‘nsec’) and a public key (prefixed with ‘npub’). Ensure your private key’s security at all times as possession of this key equates to ownership of your identity. The public key on the other hand, is for sharing. Enabling others to find you.
There are three methods to create a private key:
- App-based Key Creation: The simplest but not the most secure method is to generate the key pair directly within the app. If you plan to use the same identity across multiple clients, this approach may involve added risk due to the need for frequent copy / pasting of your private key.
- Web-based Client with ALBY: If you’re using a web-based client, consider an extension like ALBY. You can generate your keys in Alby and use the private key for signing across multiple Nostr apps. Import only the public key into the clients and sign with your private key directly from the Alby extension. This gives a significant boost to your security, though it’s still not completely foolproof since your keys exist in an online environment. An added bonus of Alby is its robust integration with Lightning. Allowing you to create a Lightning address as well.
- Nostr Signing Device: For the highest level of security, opt for a Nostr signing device. Your private key is generated on a specific offline device, making it impervious to online hacks. While the current availability and perfection of these devices may be limited, expect substantial improvements over time.
Remember, managing your Nostr keys is important to maintaining your identity and privacy on the platform. Consider the methods above and choose the best fit for your needs for secure and effective use of Nostr.
Get NIP-05 Verified
In the Nostr network, a user’s public key is a unique string of characters that acts much like a digital address. It’s essential, but its complexity can make it challenging to recall or share. This is where the innovative NIP-05 identifiers come into play. These identifiers, available for a minimal fee via Lightning, can be linked to your public key. Converting it into an easily readable username, just as simple as an email address or a domain name.
This human-friendly username not only enhances the user experience by making searches and profile recognition easier but also functions as a verification tool. By purchasing a NIP-05 identifier, you’re providing proof of work, a valuable action in maintaining a spam-free environment. Navigate HERE to get your unique @nostrplebs.com username and connect it to your public key effortlessly.
In essence, the Nostr guide ensures a seamless experience in the world of decentralised communication by offering user-friendly, secure and identifiable usernames through NIP-05 identifiers. Remember, a memorable username is just one click away.
Connect A Lightning Address
Looking to send and receive zaps (?) or carry out transactions on Nostr? The final step is linking a Lightning address to your Nostr account. The most straightforward method for web client users is via the Alby browser extension. Within Alby, you can either create a custodial wallet or integrate your personal Lightning wallet for a non-custodial alternative. However, for mobile client users many applications support the direct import of your Lightning address streamlining the process.
This comprehensive Nostr guide aims to simplify your experience, ensuring efficient use of the platform. Remember, optimising your Nostr account by connecting a Lightning address enhances your ability to perform transactions and exchange zaps. That’s the beauty of the Nostr platform. It’s all about creating a user-friendly environment that fosters easy and secure communication and transactions.
Make Friends On Nostr!
Get started and establish your social circle on Nostr. An amazing protocol that values your privacy. Kick-start your journey by logging into your preferred Nostr client utilising your secure keys. Personalise your profile with a captivating image and intriguing details about yourself to draw fellow users. Eager to connect with familiar faces? Click HERE to find and follow contacts from your Twitter circle.
In addition, try hashtags of your interests to discover like-minded individuals on Nostr. You can also use the NIP-05 identifiers to search for specific users, or explore messages in the ‘Global’ section. Engage with the Nostr community by liking, commenting on, and sharing posts that catch your interest. Don’t forget to ‘zap’ the posts that triggers your interest most! Last but certainly not least, stay connected with us! Our Pubkey can be found below:
Our Pubkey: npub14q3h3e97e4scsadgzaatjyvam7w2yk9ne7cy9xr5uz0ew7max3uqvzkksy
Below you’ll find our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section, a dedicated resource to help our users better understand Nostr and its functionalities. We’ve compiled answers to some of the most common questions we receive about Nostr, providing insight into everything from basic operations to advanced features.
Whether you’re a new user in need of a quick startup guide or a long-term user looking to explore more, this section is your go-to resource for clarifications and solutions.
Is Nostr build on Bitcoin?
No, Nostr is not built on Bitcoin. It is a separate protocol that allows for a network of nodes to distribute and store events. While it may support Bitcoin-based applications, Nostr itself does not rely on Bitcoin’s blockchain or infrastructure. There are similarities in the architecture and characteristics of Nostr and Bitcoin, like private-and public key pairs, decentralisation, censorship resistance and resilience. Furthermore, Bitcoin payments are being integrated in Nostr through the Lightning Network, in the form of zaps. However, they are two separate protocols that run independent of each other.
What is the difference between Mastodon and Nostr?
Mastodon and Nostr both operate within the realm of decentralized information sharing, yet their core nature and functionality differ significantly. Mastodon, a decentralized, open-source social network, shares similarities with Twitter, utilizing a federated system where each server, or “instance,” operates autonomously but can interact with others. It empowers users to control their own data and select their preferred guidelines, determined by their chosen instance.
Contrarily, Nostr isn’t just a social network but a comprehensive protocol for building diverse social applications. It doesn’t directly host any content. Instead, it enables anyone to publish or subscribe to messages, which are subsequently relayed through connected nodes. This method ensures high privacy levels and prevents any single entity from monopolising control over the network.