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Early Bitcoin Developer, Martti Malmi Builds Iris, a Decentralized Social Networking Site

September 30, 2020


Early Bitcoin Developer, Martti Malmi Builds Iris, a Decentralized Social Networking Site

In an effort to gain traction for the Twitter-like social networking app, early Bitcoin developer, Martti Malmi built, he Tweeted a request for his Twitter followers to follow him on his platform Iris. Malmi originally announced Iris to his Twitter followers in early 2019.

Not long after Malmi’s tweet, one Twitter user responded to his announcement with, “This is really interesting! Is it censorable?”

What followed was a somewhat technical explanation that proves adoption of decentralized social media faces similar obstacles as Bitcoin adoption: namely, the level of technical skill users need. “ domain could be censored, but data is replicated on users’ browser and the gunDB nodes they connect to (you can easily spin up your own). There’s also desktop version which can accept incoming connects unless you’re behind NAT.”

In an additional follow-up comment, Malmi’s reply demonstrated the spectrum on which decentralization exists, highlighting the fact that achieving decentralization is all a matter of degree, “I need to improve the adhoc p2p networking between friends. That would make it much more censorship-resistant.” Given the extent to which major social media platforms censor users, any improvement toward more decentralization, even if not fully censorship-resistant by default, is a welcomed option.

Malmi also made a call for contributions, linking to the Iris Github repo and noted that Iris was built on Preact and gunDB. Preact is a JavaScript and lightweight alternative to React. GUN, according to its website, describes itself as “The database for freedom fighters.” Iris is already listed as a project that uses GUN, in addition to Hackernoon and Internet Archive.

In his book Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying To Reinvent Money Nathaniel Popper details Martti Malmi’s early Bitcoin story. Malmi discovered Bitcoin in spring 2009 and Satoshi quickly trusted him. The question remains how many self-described Bitcoin maximalists will now abandon Twitter and fully embrace Iris, or at the very least, use Iris in addition.

At press time, Malmi’s original Tweet had over 107 likes and 37 Retweets.