The Project

The digital world has been screwed up so badly for so long that most people have gotten used to it and (worse) think that it’s the only way it can be done.

Our mission is to give people a way out.

What we call a “planet” is a simple term for something with a lot of layers. A planet is a whole computer that can run programs, talk to other computers like it, and do a lot more than you probably realize.

It’s also an identity. (That doesn’t mean much to you right now, but over time you’ll realize just how amazing the identity of your planet will come to mean to you.)

And since it’s a computer that can run programs that means that it comes with a whole suite of tools baked in that you need to build relationships. Start groups. Make it public, make it private. Invite your friends. Make a different group for your family. Make a group for your hobby. 

Each group can have as many chat rooms as you want. You can have a shared “blog” or make it where only you, the owner, can write but all group members can read & comment.

Want to keep track of cool stuff that you find? Great!! There are link aggregators built right into the software that manages your group.

Plus, there are tons of other apps being born all the time which means your planet keeps getting better & more capable.

The Founder

The man behind The Planet Store goes by the name ~minder-folden. He is a professional creator, curator, speaker, writer, performer, artist, consultant, and more.

He is a techno-optimist who believes that human life can be better through the use of tools that unlock incredible talent, skill, creativity, and time.

He thoroughly believes that the technology behind the Planet Store is one of those tools.

When he’s not on the road for work, you can find him at home in the mountains of North Carolina hanging out in one of the longest-running groups on the network. 

The Technology

The Planet Store is built on an open source project called “Urbit.” 

The basic idea is that the problems we have with social media are the result of technological choices made in the 70’s that eventually lead to the bizarre behavior we see today.

Here’s the thread that connects them.

When you & I sit down at a coffee shop, I know it’s you. You know it’s me. We’ve seen each other before, and we have a shared history. We remember our previous chats.

This is so natural that it seems weird to even mention it.

But here’s where it gets strange.

When we’re online, how do I know it’s you talking with me? IP addresses are functionally infinite, and how can I tell the difference between a spammer acting like you & you actually being you?

This is a situation that was created by the decisions made by the architects of the internet back in the 70’s.

And this is why the issue of identity is at the root of many of the issues we’re facing online today.

Facebook is solving that very difficult question: how do I know it’s you?

The way they do that is to pay a whole army of engineers to run servers that they own & control. They have them locked down tight.

Then, they allow you to create a profile which is actually a line of data in that database. You can add information to your row in the database once you fill out a username and provide a password. This is how Facebook authenticates your ‘identity.’

When you message me on Facebook, you aren’t sending me a message. You are adding information to a row in the database. Then Facebook allows me to see that information since I have my username & password set up.

The result is for me to know who you are, and to hear what you say, we both need Facebook to make it possible.

What also happens is that Facebook can see all our conversations. They own all the information that you put into their server.

And you’re happy to have this situation because doing it yourself is too hard.

That’s where Urbit comes into the picture.

The mission is making it simple enough for people to own & run their own server that only they have access to. All the data is theirs and always will be theirs.

So, in order for there to be different social media there has to be a different internet. For there to be a different internet there needs to be different protocols. For there to be different protocols, there needs to be different computers. For there to be different computers, there needs to be different programming languages.

And Urbit is all those things at the same time.

It’s a completely new way to connect people together built from the ground up.