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Tent – a new open distributed social networking protocol

photo of Sepp Hasslberger

Sepp Hasslberger
2nd October 2012


Tent is an open, decentralized networking protocol, made to run on multiple servers. “Tent allows every user to run their own server, but like email and the web, most users will use a hosting service to handle it.” The first hosted server to come on line is tent.is and it has a basic free account option, and a more feature-rich one that will set you back $12 a month.

“Centralized services cannot meet the needs of all users because they limit developers and use closed and proprietary APIs. Users are forced to use multiple service providers and fragment their relationships, messages, memories, and data. Users have to check in regularly with multiple sites and apps just to see what is happening in their lives.”

With tent, users have control over their data, and over who is allowed to see posts and other information. The data such as posts shared and connections (people you follow and people following you) are mobile, which means they can easily be taken to another place.

Much of the functionality of Tent is pushed to the application level. Anyone can write any kind of Tent app. The only person’s permission a developer needs is the user’s. Users implement the apps they want. They keep all their posts, relationships, and messages in one place.

From the FAQ at tent.io

Tent began after a conversation between Jonathan Rudenberg, Daniel Siders, Jesse Stuart, and Lucas Wojciechowski. It was inspired by Hypertext, Xanadu, SMTP, the World Wide Web, and distributed peer-to-peer services.

Tent will be a completely free and open standard. To prevent fragmentation before launch, the original authors currently retain copyright. This is a temporary situation which will be remedied immediately after a governance model is chosen.

“We decided it would be best to share what we could as soon as possible, releasing early and often. We are entirely committed to free and open software and protocols with open governance models leading to a ratified standard. Tent will be released under an open license in the immediate future.”

What Tent needs

Tent needs users, anyone who would like to host their own Tent server, and also anyone who would just like to try out Tent using an existing server. Of course telling others about Tent and your profile is especially appreciated.

Tent also needs app developers. The protocol is completely open to developers of apps. Whether an app is used is decided at the user level. There is no centralized approval for apps.

Since the protocol is at an early stage of development (we’re looking at version 0.1) and there will many bugs to iron out, testers who provide feedback are needed as well.

Any feedback for the readers of this blog, from early adopters of Tent, would of course also be appreciated.

More on Tent and an FAQ can be found on tent.io/

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