Open Collective
Open Collective
My last update
Published on April 5, 2024 by Andre Staltz

Dear backers,

It is very difficult for me to write this update. I have decided that my time to build up SSB, Manyverse, and the new PPPPP protocol is over. Your resolute support is humbling, and for my last blog update, I want to properly explain my journey so far. Please take time to read before concluding that I "burnt out". I didn't.

It has been 7 years since I started working on this. In 2016 I was motivated to do something about social media, seeing the worrisome rise of Donald Trump and the far right, assisted by surveillance capitalist methods. I was concerned about the weaponization of communication channels, and particularly about Facebook (and to a smaller degree, Twitter).

I found Secure Scuttlebutt while browsing GitHub, and joined the community via Patchwork. I was amazed by what I discovered: genuine friendly interactions, where no one was "running" the place like an administrator or moderator usually does. The core of the community was a healthy mix of developers, each contributing code in their own way. With my experience making mobile apps, I saw how I could contribute: by building the first mobile SSB app.

In September 2018, I launched Manyverse. Initially, on Android only, and very limited in features. But you began donating. Other code contributors came along. We built Bluetooth replication. We invented room servers. We made an iOS app. We ported the whole app to desktop/Electron. We translated the app to 6+ languages. We created a new database from scratch, 5x faster than the previous one. We planned huge new features for the protocol.

We did so much! And you've been following all of that story. But in the meantime, the world has changed. Facebook, which used to be my primary concern, is not even a thing I hear anyone talking about. It has become entirely irrelevant, at least from where I'm sitting. Elon took over Twitter, now there's just "X". Mastodon, Nostr, Bluesky are thriving alternatives.

I have also changed a lot as a person. Two massive things happened in my life since I started working on Manyverse. I became a parent of two kids, and ... wonderful things happened to me February this year, which are best kept private. There has been a lot of pain, learning, but a lot of breakthroughs and joy. I am a different person, and this affects the things that motivate me. I am also very keen on making more music. I started learning to play the Cello.

Building social media or social networks is not interesting to me anymore. These platforms seem like they're mostly strangers talking to strangers, where relationships are dependent on shared interests or shared opinions. Social media platforms are huge attention routers, mostly useful for those who are seeking attention, and mostly detrimental to everyone else. Every time I open Twitter I regret it. Mastodon bores me. I can't bother to even open Bluesky. The SSB community is sweet, but I don't follow the conversations anymore.

I wouldn't describe this as burnout. Working on PPPPP has been low-stress, and the technical challenges are actually fun, but I have been worried about the purpose behind all of it. I don't believe in the same mission as I did in 2016. My interests have slowly drifted away and then radically now in February. I have a local community, and plenty of people "local-first".

As for my next work, I have been working for clients as a consultant part-time, and now I'll focus on that full-time. While your donations have been flattering, 7 years of FOSS donation income is tough, and for this year I want to earn what the industry usually pays for people in my skill range. My passion will be making music, and loving the 10 closest people in my life.

What will happen next with Manyverse, SSB, and PPPPP? Jacob is taking the lead now, and I support him. Mix will too. As a reminder, Jacob has made Manyverse desktop happen, and has implemented a lot of the tough details regarding private groups in last year's NGI grant. He's humble and sells himself short, but I am consistently amazed at how good he is at this. If anyone else out there is reading this and wants to combine efforts, now is your time to step up and help too. Contact Jacob.

Before closing, I want to acknowledge people. Starting with Dominic Tarr, who created SSB. I have met him twice in person, and he's the closest you can get to an alien. I say this in a friendly way, but also in the literal way. He is incredibly unusual, and I am grateful for all the wonderful things he made and showed us.

Mix Irving comes next, who is my dear friend. We talk about a lot of personal things. We fight. We (virtually) hug. Mix has been the heart of the SSB community from the beginning. He loves to connect people together, to introduce a friend to you, to make things happen. He likes to make visualizations, and likes to draw. Mix is very special. Due to planetary distances, I haven't met him in person yet, but I definitely should.

Anders (arj) is also a friend. He is incredibly smart when it comes to technical intuition, but as a person, he's impossible to hate, and his diplomatic and warm approach has been a reliable way of solving conflicts between the more spicy team members. I am honored to have been under arj's wide wings.

SSB would be lost without Matt Mckegg, who built the all-beloved Patchwork. It would be lost without Zelf, without Andrew Chou, without Paul Frazee, without Mikey, without cryptix, without Luandro, without Keks, without Cel, without David Gomez, without (he goes by many names) Sami, without substack, without Nicolas Pace, without Nicholas Frota, without Glyph, without soapdog, without Christian Bundy, without Piet, without Happy0. I was planning to write something special about each of these persons and others, but the tears are not helping me find the words right now. I hope these tears are enough.

After 6400 hours (an irrevocable slice of my life) of working on this, it's time for me to say goodbye. I believe all of this – what we built together – will make more sense someday.

Thank you. 
– @andrestaltz
❤️  4


Posted on April 5, 2024

Thank you for all of your work Andre!!!
I'm glad that you have been apart of the project.
I'm also glad that there are people who will continue moving it forward.

For me, the most important thing about SSB and Manyverse is giving people, friends and family, community, and yes strangers, the ability to communicate with each other in a way which is not reliant on any third party and hopefully very difficult or impossible to prevent.  The powers that be are working very hard to take control of people's lives, to monitor them, censor them, and have the ability to shut them down if desired. Yes, there will always be bad actors, but the vast majority of the population on planet Earth are good people.  Therefore, the good always outnumber the bad and will keep them in check.  If bad people want to do bad things they will find a way to do it with or without SSB.  I have some very nice and useful tools, kitchen knives, sporting equipment, iron bars, etc. all of which can be useful implements for good people, but also used to commit crimes by bad actors. Restricting and monitoring kitchen knives will not prevent stabbings, and neither will restricting and monitoring SSB. On an individual level, being able to mute or block others is a great idea and needed, but inserting some code into SSB to be able to track down individuals or block them entirely from the SSB network would defeat the entire project for me.

I hope to one day see SSB used across the globe with various different forms of communication methods such as radio waves with a network totally free from any kind of centralized control. 
❤️  1

Alex Berg

Posted on April 5, 2024

Your work on the project has been in inspiring! Thanks for everything you have done and have shared! I wish you the best of futures!

Tim Swast

Posted on April 6, 2024

I've really appreciated your insights over the years.


Posted on May 15, 2024

Thank you and the rest of the team for the honest work and all detailed updates. Wish you prosperous career.

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