Navigating Urbit: Your Digital Homestead
Published August 30, 2022.
In recent years, digital homesteading has been slowly increasing in popularity as a new approach to living. Fewer people now live in rural areas than ever, effectively drying up the communities that once flourished.
This is exactly what digital homesteading is trying to do—provide residents of rural places equal opportunities and connections as those living in urban places. People have been consistently moving to bigger and more urban areas for more possibilities, but now, with digital homesteading, people from all communities can have access to the same privileges—regardless of their location.
This means solving issues of equal market opportunities, social connections, and acquiring knowledge—which is exactly what Urbit, a Web3 project, seeks to solve.
How Does Urbit Work?
Urbit is a digital homestead that offers cloud and community-based services that are available on all devices—including phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop PCs. It's a full-service solution that offers useful functionalities for both communication and commerce.
Urbit is built on blockchain technology. It intends to give all of its users full digital autonomy which will allow users to keep their data and digital assets securely stored without requiring any third parties. This is a big move in the direction of privacy, decentralization, and security.
So, what is the technology behind this digital homestead? Urbit runs on a peer-to-peer network where every user has a specific identity key for authentication. However, unlike many similar services, Urbit does not give the user's data away to a third party. Thanks to blockchain technology, Urbit's infrastructure allows for a fully decentralized way of operating, ensuring that all users have a right to privacy of their data.
Why Use Urbit?
As a digital homestead, Urbit seeks to solve many of the issues that the modern Internet has. In simple terms, Urbit's primary goal is to create a digital environment where discussion and collaboration are the norm. However, one might ask, why use Urbit when you can use the Internet for the exact same thing?
Urbit solves the privacy and centralization issues that the Internet currently has. This includes:
- Reducing spam data.
- Minimizing cybersecurity attacks like data breaches.
- Solving the issue of malware fully.
- Giving users the right to control where their data goes.
Therefore, the system behind Urbit is incredibly secure. Everyone's connection on the network is fully encrypted, with both public and private keys to safeguard the user's personal data. Once a user becomes a part of Urbit, they get an Urbit ID, which acts as their login information. These IDs are created on the Ethereum non-fungible token standard (named ERC721) and are stored as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), meaning that no one (except the users themselves) can see, access, or modify the data.
Explaining Urbit's Infrastructure
Urbit has a unique and somewhat complex network infrastructure called Azimuth, and it's divided into distinct network nodes with unique names: stars, galaxies, and planets. Each has specific responsibilities, making the network run seamlessly. For example, the planet nodes are for everyday use and simple tasks, like handling user requests. Since there are over 4 billion planet nodes, the network isn't likely to have any latency issues or outages. On the other hand, stars and galaxies serve as the building blocks of Urbit's network infrastructure. Whenever new updates are made, these nodes adequately redistribute to every other node through an encrypted connection. Stars and galaxies also handle user routing i.e. directing the user to the node they need.
So, how can you join Urbit as a user and become a part of the network? There are two main ways to get an identity to join Urbit:
- Join the Urbit community and ask for one to be generated for you.
- Go to an NFT exchange that's part of the ERC-721 standard and purchase one.
After getting it, you can store your ID in the form of an NFT on your Ethereum address and use Urbit's client interface, Bridge, to directly interact with the entire network.
Urbit is an incredibly ambitious project that has the potential to revolutionize the way networks work—as long as it remains consistent. Currently, it's the only large-scale project that seeks to revolutionize digital homesteading by implementing a Web 3.0 infrastructure with a peer-to-peer network. The project is quite promising and viable, as it seeks to solve many of the issues that the Internet faces today. Only time will tell how the Urbit project will be executed, though we're confident the team behind it will find a scalable and efficient way to make the project thrive into mass adoption.