Urbit, which is not a blockchain but was created seven years before Bitcoin, had a similar goal of creating a peer to peer network free of the influence of large companies or governments.

Urbit is often discussed in the contexts of crypto, and is invited to industry conferences. It doesn’t take long to find themes that are popular among blockchain supporters on the Urbit Foundation website. These include the idea of short-circuiting middlemen and centralized applications which dominate online activity. “We don’t think the internet will be saved.” “The way things are moving, MEGACORP is going to control our apps and service because we cannot run them ourselves,” reads the site.

Read more: Urbit Courts Crypto Teams, DAOs in Quest to Make Internet Back P2P (2022).

Users are identified by their UrbitIDs, which are four-syllable names that can be pronounced. These are generated using an algorithm and then registered on the Ethereum Blockchain as NFTs. According to the website, Urbit IDs are linked to numbers. For example, the Urbit ID “dalwel” is tied to 3,509,632,436.

The website states that “Your UrbitID is meant to feel like a secret codename.” Urbit is meant to be an interface that’s simple and seamless for all your digital activities.

This year, the number of “ships”, on the Urbit Network has doubled. (Urbit)

It’s important to note that this kind of clubbiness is an essential part of any blockchain ecosystem. Building a community is difficult, but it is necessary. Urbit has been gaining some traction in recent months.

The graph above shows that the user base has been growing rapidly, but with the caveat that an individual may own multiple “ships” or identities. This growth can be attributed to the introductions of personal-server-hosting services and improved user interfaces, which made it easier for non-technical people to join. The number of developers on the project has doubled in the last year. There are now 90 developers who work on it every month, which is on par with the 20 biggest blockchain projects.

Josh Lehman, aka wolref – podlex and executive director of Urbit Foundation, acknowledge that for a long period Urbit was not growing. It was only enthusiasts.

Urbit was recently exposed to a wider audience after being mentioned in a Vanity Fair piece. Another writer spent a weekend in Miami following Urbit attendees at its own ” assembly” conference last September, and then documenting every detail in gonzo-style. (Excerpt): “I met two girls from Minnesota, who heard about Urbit through a podcast. They wanted to come here and see if there were any tips they could use for building their own fashion brand.”

Balaji Srinivasan was one of the prominent speakers at the conference, which sparked further discussion about the network. Srinivasan was the keynote speaker for the Miami conference. He is the author of “Network State”, an entrepreneur, and a former $1 million bitcoin wager that failed. Srinivasan stated in a recording of his talk that Urbit wanted to be a Cathedral. It’s a little bazaar but currently it’s a strange cathedral.

Origin Story

Urbit is an operating system, and a network that allows users to store data on their own servers. This gives users the control they need in order to operate on the network. This is unlike most blockchains, which preserve data on-chain, a feature often praised for its transparency benefits. The Urbit peer to peer network allows users to interact with one another and maintain local records.

Curtis Yarvin is a computer scientist who began the project in 2002, long before Satoshi’s Bitcoin White Paper appeared in October 2008. His extreme political views were associated with the Dark Enlightenment or “neo reactionary movement”. They were so prominent that they were difficult to ignore when discussing Urbit.

Read more: Urbit is Web3, I don’t care who made it (2022), and I don’t even care if they did.

Yarvin (aka “sorreg”-namtyv), retired in 2019 as CTO and board member of Tlon. The company had previously sponsored Urbit. wrote that time: “I knew Urbit would not be successful until it stopped being mine and became a world product.”

Yarvin wrote that “Urbit’s not uniformly perfect yet.” There are some medium-sized clean-ups on the horizon. This is not a question of years, but months. “I don’t think there are any unknown unknowns,” said he.

According to Urbit Foundation’s website the non-profit organization was founded in 2021 after it separated from Tlon a private company that had been formed in 2013 for the purpose of working on the network.

Urbit’s supporters are quick to point out that the programming language used is elegant and simple, as it was only required to solve a problem: how to create the best peer-to-peer networking. The Urbit operating system is said to be reduced to just 33 lines of code called “Nock”.

Urbit’s talking points sound like arguments in favor of Web3, the next version of the Internet, which would encourage decentralized protocols and reduce dependency on large tech firms like Youtube, Netflix, and Amazon.

Urbit website gives an example: “Most of the time, we use our laptops as simple access points to MEGACORP’s services. We use the same phones. These services are convenient and amazing. “But for convenience, we’ve given up control, ownership and our privacy.”

Hocwyn tipwex, one of Urbit’s faithful (he does not use his real name when addressing professionals), is the co-founder and CEO of Uqbar Network. This network is building an Ethereum rollup with zero-knowledge.

According to him, Urbit’s inherent design of peer-to peer applications makes it simple to create decentralized apps called dapps. There are currently apps for social media, chatting, and poker on the Urbit Network.

Tipwex, a representative of CoinDesk at Consensus2023 in Austin, Texas said that peer-to-peer technology is more difficult than it appears.

It’s hard to build a community around any project. Urbit’s strange, small group of devout supporters with secret codenames might be a good start for the project as it tries to create a larger and more user-friendly ecosphere. Tipwex and other projects show how the network could eventually bleed over into crypto.