Urbit

From ancient engineering to the cutting-edge
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Urbit

Post by admin » Sat Aug 24, 2019 11:51 am

https://urbit.org/

A project I've referenced several times. Strange, ambitious, promising....

... and according to some, evil (!)

'Is Urbit evil?' playlist:

https://www.popehat.com/2013/12/06/nock ... t-matters/
http://distributedweb.care/posts/who-owns-the-stars/
https://twitter.com/glenweyl/status/1161764907840413696

This (2016) could use a sequel:

https://urbit.org/posts/common-objections-to-urbit/

Current (2019) official explainer:

https://urbit.org/primer/
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Re: Urbit

Post by admin » Sat Feb 01, 2020 5:22 pm

Parallels between Urbit and Red

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_(prog ... _language)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebol

Red is a under-development programming language. It's an open source successor to Rebol, a niche, high-level, peculiar language and proprietary cross-platform runtime. Rebol and Red borrow some aspects from the Lisp tradition, like 'homoiconicity' ("A language is homoiconic if a program written in it can be manipulated as data using the language" -Wikipedia).

Its killer feature is ease of creating domain specific languages.

Rebol was used as sort of OS-in-an-OS. It had its own desktop environment, and networking stuff.

There's a lower-level version of Red, Red/System is meant for, among other things, developing operating systems. It was guided by a sort of 'lean software' mindset. "Rebol is a rebellion against software bloat."

So, embryonic open source programming languages that challenge the prevailing paradigm.

Urbit's languages, Nock and Hoon are functional. Rebol/Red are classed as functional languages too.

Absentee founders
- Urbit was started by Curtis Yarvin, who ceased involvement in 2019.
- Rebol was created by Carl Sassenrath, who worked on the Amiga OS kernel, but as far as I know he's not actually involved in Red, which is the spiritual successor.

Crypto assets
- Urbit ID is a scarce namespace which functions as an ID system with a potential for sustaining long-term reputation-bearing IDs, preventing spam. They've called it digital land, to make an analogy with Bitcoin as digital money, and it runs on Ethereum. Tlon has sold off parts of it to fund the project. Now they're offering bits as rewards for contributing to the project in other ways, see https://grants.urbit.org/ -- you can get 'stars' (critical IDs that let you spawn personal IDs, to give to your friends, or sell, or whatever) for writing Urbit code, or hosting Urbit meetups.
- Red's gotten into the cryptocoin game too: https://www.red-lang.org/2017/12/leapin ... chain.html
As Red aims to be a fullstack programming solution, we naturally look at what are the potential next big platforms we should support. Since last year, we are watching and studying the various blockchains, especially focusing on the ones supporting smart contracts, Ethereum being the leading chain in that domain.
Red has a crypto token on Ethereum, to help incentivise/reward development of the system. But this was added quite late into the project's development lifecycle, to the displeasure of some fans. The ICO was a success.

https://www.red-lang.org/2018/01/

Both languages are high-risk-high-reward propositions. You could play it safe with JavaScript, Python, FANG stocks, or get involved early on potentially critical, revolutionary computing infrastructure by learning weird unfinished new languages that no one will pay you to use, except in obscure crypto tokens that might be of great value later... or not.
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