Getting Started on Nostr with Kollider
If you're active in Bitcoin circles, you've likely been hearing a ton about Nostr lately. In this article we'll offer a brief overview of what Nostr is, why it's important, and how you can easily start using it today with Kollider.
What is Nostr?
Nostr is a simple protocol for creating decentralized social networks. Like email, Nostr is an open protocol that anyone can use and upon which anyone can build. But unlike many other attempts at decentralized social networking, Nostr is not built on top of a blockchain. In fact, Nostr is an independent protocol that, at its core, has nothing to do with Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency.
Nostr stands for Notes and Other Stuff Transmitted by Relays. This speaks to the relatively simple nature of the protocol. Users publish and sign posts (called notes) and relays store and propagate those notes to other users. The decentralized architecture of the protocol comes from the fact that users own their identity within the system, and any user is free to utilize any relay. If they are censored by one relay, they can simply plug into another or even run their own.
How does Nostr work?
At its core, Nostr consists of three main components– cryptographic key pairs, relays, and clients.
Every user of Nostr has a key pair consisting of a public key and a private key (somewhat analagous to a username and password). Because users control their key pairs, they fully own their identity within the Nostr ecosystem.
Relays are servers that store, send, and recieve messages from users of the network. Users can choose which relays to send their messages to, and they can choose which relays to request information from. Every time they publish a message, they send it to a relay. When they want information from the network, they simply ask relays for that information.
Unlike many other attemps at decentralized social media, where information is stored on-chain and the blockchain serves as a single database, Nostr allows users to choose between various databases (relays) to both store and serve information. The relay architecture is a key piece of the Nostr stack that prevents the protocol from having a single point of failure. If a user is censored by a certain relay, they can simply choose another relay to use or even operate their own.
Clients are interfaces for users to access the network. Clients publish data to relays and fetch data from relays on behalf of users. Every time a users publishes something to the network, they sign it with their key pair. Clients validate those signatures so that users can verify the authenticity of posts.
Why is Nostr important?
Nostr is important because it creates a neutral platform for speech that can't be shut down, censored, or arbitrarily changed. Not only does it allow for more free speech, but it also allows for more curated user experiences– users can choose to connect to specific relays or interface with specific clients based on their unique preferences around filtering and content in a way that's far more customizable than existing social networks offer.
But in addition to its implications for speech, Nostr also opens up the potential for an ecosystem of applications that interoperate seamlessly. Since users control their identity, they can easily port between applications built on Nostr. This opens up huge implications for developers, who can leverage network effects around the protocol (as user Stu eloquently explains below).
Jack Dorsey, who may currently be Nostr's most active user, has repeatedly talked about an ecosystem of interoperable "microapps" emerging as Nostr's killer use case.
And the final reason we're so excited about Nostr is because of its natural compatability with Bitcoin. As we mentioned before, Nostr is an independent protocol that isn't explicitly tied to Bitcoin. However, one thing that had become clear to users of the network is that the opportunities created by having a seamless payments layer on top of Nostr are huge. Lightning has naturally emerged as the main financial technology for Nostr– for everything from sending a tip to users on the network to purchasing access to a paid relay. Here at Kollider we've been experimenting and building various products at the intersection of Nostr and Lightning, and we're excited to share them this year.
The first of those products is the Nostr integration in Kollider Wallet, which allows you to hold your Nostr keys in the wallet, interact with clients, and even get notifications through Nostr when you've received funds.
Getting Started with Nostr
If you want to get started with Nostr on mobile, we recommend downloading Damus on iOS or Amethyst on Android. This guide will focus on using Nostr on a web browser with Kollider Wallet.
In order to use Nostr, you first need a key pair.
We've made that super simple to do within the latest version of Kollider Wallet. Navigate to settings, go to the Nostr section, generate a key pair, and save it. The key pair will be stored within Kollider Wallet, which will allow you to login to clients and sign notes without having to enter your private key directly.
Next, you'll want to create your profile. To do this, you'll need a client.
There are a ton of great clients within the Nostr ecosystem. A few we love include:
When using those clients, you'll be given an option to login with a browser extension. This will prompt Kollider Wallet to ask you to approve the use of your keys to login.
The first thing you'll want to do is configure your relays. Some clients may offer a default relay set, which is a good place to start. But you can also use a tool like Nostr.watch to compare relays.
If you're looking for a place to get started, add Kollider's relay!
From there you'll be able to create and edit your profile and start sending out notes.
You can even turn on Nostr notifications within the wallet and be notified via Nostr messages every time you get a deposit to your Kollider Wallet account!
Now that you're onboarded onto Nostr, you can easily move between clients, send out notes, and even send payments to other users, all with Kollider Wallet!
Kollider Wallet is currently in closed beta, but we're sending out invites every day to new users. If you'd like get access to start using Lightning Network and Nostr, you can sign up here.