29 December 2022

urbit pills

the best urbit podcasts, videos, and tweets

AJ LaMarc
AJ LaMarc @ajlamarc

To put it lightly, Urbit is a large project. Similar to cryptocurrency, it can’t be explained to early adopters with a simple analogy like “Uber for Dogs.”

You have to do the work to understand Urbit. Here’s some of my favorite content for going through that journey.

Part One: Why Urbit

~timluc-miptev (Tim’s) Twitter threads — A lot of narrative ground is covered here, so give it some time to digest. Tim explains the power of Urbit’s technical decisions, how it can let developers have fun again, and how it can unlock new + novel use cases through composability.

Urbit fixes complexity — Related thread to above about how Urbit can solve software complexity.

~poldec’s law of convenience — Consumer demand for convenience forces software to centralize. “Web3” can’t happen until it is powered by a full networked operating system, i.e. Urbit.

Software is a scene — Software is built by people, and people flock to interesting cultures where they can contribute. Urbit has this in spades.

Tim + Justin, Tim + Galen — Tim always does a spectacular job explaining Urbit’s value propositions, of which I’ve found these two interviews most insightful.

The Network Age Podcast, on Spotify — The best Urbit podcast; features ~timluc-miptev, ~nilrun-mardux, and the high profile crypto influencer known only as ~bichul-ritsen.

Part Two: Unterstanding technical decisions

Fully functional — Explains on a basic level the benefits of building functional, from scratch.

Solve all the problems — If we’re going to build a new web, let’s not make it fragmented again (and buggy). cc Solid Project, MetaMask, Lens, Mastodon, etc.

Why Hoon — Hoon seems obtuse at first, but it’s a tool designed for a specific use case. That is, building a fully functional operating system.

Precepts, Discussion — The principles guiding Urbit’s design decisions and future development.

Common Objections — An older post addressing some of Urbit’s common critiques.

Why Web3 Needs Urbit, Urbit and Crypto Synergies, Uqbar: Urbit’s ZK Rollup — A lengthy 3-part series on Urbit, it’s Web3 synergies, and Uqbar, the rollup bringing smart contract execution directly into the Urbit environment.

Urbit from the Outside In — A five episode series that goes very deep into the different parts of the Urbit operating system and how they interact. Insightful, but I’d recommend having a basic understanding before jumping in.

Urbit Whitepaper — More technical jargon, but it’s interesting (I promise).

Part Three: Misc

Realm A futuristic Urbit client and shared cursor experience being built by Holium.

Magic Shows that the end state of Urbit UX is simply better. All that’s left is to build it.

Addressing Urbit Controversies

It’s easy to sneer at Urbit for its ties to Yarvin, its nerdy nomenclature and its unusual approach to programming (instead of progressing from version 1.0 to 2.0 and so on, core parts of the infrastructure go backwards toward zero, at which point this code will be deemed final; the idea is to make any ship durable and usable for decades even as apps are updated at higher levels of the stack). In a world where the deck is stacked in favor of hyperstimulation and learned digital helplessness, the Urbit community’s efforts to humanize computing may, ultimately, make no difference. But to borrow from an old song, at least they are trying. What have you done?

A Founder’s Farewell Yarvin’s parting post addressing Urbit’s future and some of its critiques.

Security — Urbit is not secure yet, but it is designed to be easily securable.

Ted Blackman, Philip Monk, Galen Wolfe-Pauly — Justin Murphy’s interviews with some of the VIPs of Urbit.


The Machine War