Calls: Send in your ideas. Deadline April 1, 2024
Theme fund: NGI0 Discovery
Start: 2021-08
End: 2022-10


Capability based petname system

Users are currently caught between two worlds of identity solutions: prepackaged centralized identity silos (which also tend to be very phishing-vulnerable) and more decentralized naming systems that awkwardly separate the experience of secure connections from identity. What if instead users could have an experience where decentralized naming was a natural outgrowth of using the application? Spritely is a laboratory project to advance the decentralized social web founded by authors of the popular ActivityPub federated social web protocol. Spritely's approach to decentralized naming systems is to implement a "petnames system", where local meaning is given to "petnames" to otherwise non-human-meaningful decentralized identifiers (such as a hash of cryptographic key material). An important part of this design is that decentralized naming flows should be a natural part of use of the program.

Petnames tend to resemble local contacts in a "contact list", but petnames on their own do not provide a sufficient way to discover, meet, and come to trust new contacts. A complete petname system also provides "edge names": for example "CWebber=>JessicaTallon" would show JessicaTallon as an "edge name" proposed by the petname CWebber. Our system also provides support for contacts introduced in a context with no existing relationships; these are called "self-proposed names" and are rendered in a way distinct from petnames and edge names. This has been under-implemented in existing petname systems; since Spritely is implementing decentralized communication systems, this will be a full implementation of a petname system (including edge names and self-proposed names) in an ergonomic manner that can also be applied to other decentralized systems. In addition to a specification, the project will delivered a usable chat application plus contact list.

Logo NLnet: abstract logo of four people seen from above Logo NGI Zero: letterlogo shaped like a tag

This project was funded through the NGI0 Discovery Fund, a fund established by NLnet with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology under grant agreement No 825322.