Scuttlebutt and Manyverse first impressions

2023-05-04 14:31:00 +07:00 by Mark Smith

I've been exploring Twitter alternatives the past few weeks. Ideally I'd like to setup server instances for each of these, and write some rudimentary clients to post some messages into these networks. However I'm severaly resource and time constrained at the minute, so that's just currentky not possible. :(

I figured I could at least try what's out there and write about it. A few weeks back I wrote about my experience setting up Nostr and Damus. That ended up in me having to put a pin in the whole affair, but I have been thinking and reading more about Nostr since. I haven't openned the app again though.

So I also took a look at Scuttlebutt and it's accompanying app Manyverse. The first thing that jumps out at you about this project is the amazingly friendly looking website, cool back story and cool tech.

Scuttlebutt can be transformative for society, decentralizing and enabling local community development free of big corp. It is a fast growing decentralized social network. As an alternative to the large corporate social networks it enables autonomy for the users and a free zone from big data harvesting

There's a bit of a hippie vibe, which is kind of cool. They have some videos but my internet connection wasn't good enough to watch them.

Based on the description on the website, it's great for situations where you are offline a lot, you don't even need a network to sync up with others, it can be direct device to device, or through online room servers or relays. The founder apparently lives on a boat.

The getting started guide looks quite straight forward, though there is a 'get an invite code' step. First warning sign. Anyhow, forget about that for now. Choose a client and get that setup. I chose the iOS Manyverse app.

The Manyverse iOS app installed without any issues. It's a great looking app, appears to have all the functionality you would expect. It's clear and obvious where everything is, feels very neat and organised. Only problem is, it's very empty of people, and by empty of people, I mean like not even a single other person. It was literally just me.

I setup my profile as best I could and wrote a few short posts. The cool thing is that you can do this totally offline, and sync later. At least I think that's the idea. The main issue is the 'invite code' step. How do I do that?

So I read the docs some more and click around. I do some google searches. I also notice a place in the app to connect to servers. Eventually I find a list of servers. These all seem very small scale. After successfully connecting to a few different servers, it appears to be a total ghost town. Digital tumbleweed is passing me by. Is this project still alive?

My patience has wained. My back hurts from standing, an unfortunate feature of my current internet connection. After around 30 mins of fussing around, I still can't figure out how to connect to anyone.

Several weeks previous to this, I had spent a while reading through the developer docs, and I was very impressed. It looks like it could be a very robust protocol. I imagine that if you are already a group and need to keep in touch in a decentralised async way, this would be awesome. As a new solo user though, I feel like there was such a lot of promise but ultimately it was very disappointing because I couldn't connect with anyone at all.

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