“Bitmessage is an e-mail replacement proposed last year that has been called the “the Bitcoin of online communication.” Instead of talking to a central mail server, Bitmessage distributes messages across a network of peers running the Bitmessage software. Unlike both Bitcoin and e-mail, Bitmessage “addresses” are cryptographically derived sequences that help encrypt a message’s contents automatically. That means that many parties help store and deliver the message, but only the intended recipient can read it. Another option obscures the sender’s identity; an alternate address sends the message on her behalf, similar to the anonymous “re-mailers” that arose from the cypherpunk movement of the nineteen-nineties. Another ambitious project, Namecoin, is a P2P system almost identical to Bitcoin. But instead of currency, it functions as a decentralized replacement for the Internet’s Domain Name System. The D.N.S. is the essential “phone book” that translates a Web site’s typed address (www.newyorker.com) to the corresponding computer’s numerical I.P. address ( The directory is decentralized by design, but it still has central points of authority: domain registrars, which buy and lease Web addresses to site owners, and the U.S.-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or I.C.A.N.N., which controls the distribution of domains.”


“The Mission to Decentralize the Internet”

The key to adoption for anything like decentralized and secure communication is simplicity and ubiquity.

We added secure messaging to Outlook in the late 90s. It could be enabled by default. It was pretty easy to set up. The problem was that anyone who used something other than Outlook (and the latest version, only on Windows) would have a really hard time enabling security. We had passed the simplicity test but failed the ubiquity test.

What happened of course was we all sent/received secure email. And then one person couldn’t read the email because he was on a different client for some reason. So we would send another copy in plain text. Which defeats the whole purpose. And soon, no one used secure email and we were reduced to least common denominator.

So something like BitMessage could be wonderful. But it needs to have a fallback and accept that for many recipients, especially at first, there needs to be a backup. Somewhat like how GroupMe or Glympse will fall back to SMS BitMessage (or another secure, decentralized system) needs to understand that falling back to email isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just a temporary step to getting more adoption