The purpose of Scuttlebutt is to grant users the ability to send and receive secure messages without having to use or connect to any servers or ISPs.
How Does It Work?
Scuttlebutt is a generalized term to identify it as a whole. A lot like how we say, “the internet” or “this afternoon”. However, to define it loosely, it is a protocol through which we can exchange messages, read other feeds, and make friends. Scuttlebutt is comparable to transmission control protocol, which is another underlying protocol that determines how devices can connect to the internet, except that a TCP is a network protocol and scuttlebutt is a localized protocol. This means that scuttlebutt does not require an internet connection in order to be used.
When a messaged is sent through the use of scuttlebutt, the message will contain a variety of features such as a signature, a public key signature, the content summary of the previous message, sequence number, timestamp, an identifier of the hashing algorithm, and the content object. All messages sent through scuttlebutt are logged, and then once a network connection is established, they can be synced or exchanged via USB memory sticks. It is basically the office water cooler on a ship. That’s how it got its name Scuttlebutt.
Everything you do on Scuttlebutt is processed as a message, regardless if you’re making a new friend, posting a recipe, or adding a new picture. However, different applications used with scuttlebutt will have different criteria on what type of messages can be sent or received. For example, when using a platform like Patchwork, it deals mainly with general status updates, picture posts, and friends and does not handle any git-SSB messages. Whereas Patchbay can do just about anything Patchwork can plus handle a variety of git messages.
Unfortunately, users are unable to post through scuttlebutt from different devices. Your identity as a user is tied to a single device. The only way to get around this would be to maintain multiple different feeds through multiple different identities.
For the most part, Scuttlebutt is just a neat little platform that travelers can use while they are at sea to stay connected to their friends and loved ones when they do not have access to the internet. It can sound a little wonky to someone that does not quite understand the computer world, but it can be a handy tool to use, even if you don’t travel. Fun fact: scuttlebutt got its name from the nautical term meaning cask that was used to serve water. Later on, it developed a new slang term that meant to gossip or spread rumors. Since this platform is used to send messages from the sea, this is pretty fitting.