Decentralising communication with Matrix

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Proposal
Short Form
Intermediate

Excerpt

Matrix is a new ecosystem for decentralised IP communications, using simple HTTP APIs to exchange data (messages, VoIP, IoT data etc) between clients and servers in an entirely decentralised manner - with conversations not being controlled by any single party or silo.

This talk will give an introductory overview to the rationale, architecture and APIs of the Matrix ecosystem, including showing how you can use the APIs for IM, WebRTC and IoT communication between some example Matrix clients and servers.

Example material:

Matrix is:
* Open
* Decentralised
* Persistent
* Eventually Consistent
* Cryptographically Secure
* Messaging Database
* with JSON-over-HTTP API.

Key Characteristics:
* Entirely open:
* open standard; open source; open project; open federation.
* Message History as first-class citizen
* Group communication as first-class citizen
* Fully distributed room state (cryptographically signed) - no SPOFs or SPOCs.
* Strong cryptographic identity to prevent spoofing
* Identity agnostic
* End-to-end encryption (RSN)

Description

Matrix is a new, pragmatic HTTP-based clean-room alternative to XMPP, SIP, IRC and other messaging/VoIP communication technologies. It consists of an open standard defining RESTful HTTP APIs and open source, Apache-licensed reference implementations for creating and running your own real-time communication infrastructure.

Our hope is to make VoIP/IM/IoT communication as universal and interoperable as email, and build an open ecosystem that people can use for a multitude of purposes.

We believe that real-time communication is fundamentally broken and fragmented on today’s internet. XMPP and SIP tried to solve this, but haven’t taken off as they might have done, leaving the internet dominated by closed proprietary islands of communication like WhatsApp, Facebook, Hangouts, etc.

Enter Matrix: a set of pragmatic RESTful HTTP JSON APIs as an open standard, intended to be implemented on a wide range of servers, services and clients, letting developers build messaging and VoIP functionality on top of the Matrix ecosystem rather than adding yet another closed/proprietary solution.

In Matrix, every user runs one or more Matrix clients, which connect through to a Matrix “homeserver” which stores all their personal chat history and user account information – much as a mail client connects through to an IMAP/SMTP server. Just like email, you can either run your own Matrix homeserver, which means you own and control your own communications and history – or you can use one hosted by someone else (e.g. matrix.org) – there is no single point of control or mandatory service provider in Matrix. In fact, there is no single point of control over conversations in Matrix at all – conversation history is a first class citizen, with room state replicated over all participating servers, avoiding single-points of failure or control as you get in XMPP MUCs.

In the end, we hope Matrix will crack the problem of a widely successful open federated platform for communication on the internet, and provide a worthy alternative to the PSTN. You should be able to use your favourite app to communicate via Matrix – and your recipients should be able to reply through the app of their choice!

Tags

communication, decentralisation, federation, collaboration, interoperability, defragmentation

Speaking experience

Many conferences and meet-ups over the last year, including:
* FOSDEM 2015 lightning talk & devroom talk (videos yet to be published at http://video.fosdem.org/2015/)
* WebRTC world expo 2014 demo (winning the Audience vote award and Best Social Integration): http://www.tmcnet.com/tmc/videos/default.aspx?vid=10786
* TADSummit Istanbul 2014: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ER3g4-4bFYk
* WebRTC Cloud Expo 2014 (Santa Clara) - (http://cloudexpo2014west.sys-con.com/?q=event/session/2485)
* TechCrunch Disrupt Europe 2014 (hackathon demo)

Speaker

  • Me big

    Biography

    Matthew Hodgson is technical co-founder of matrix.org: an early-stage not-for-profit organisation focused on solving the problem of fragmentation in current VoIP, IP Messaging and IoT applications. By defining a new lightweight pragmatic open standard for federation and interoperability and releasing opensource reference implementations, Matrix hopes to create a new ecosystem that makes real-time-communication as universal and interoperable as email. Matthew juggles matrix.org with running the Unified Communications line of business within Amdocs (formerly MX Telecom), where he’s been building IP telephony solutions for 11 years. He has a BA in Computer Science and Physics from the University of Cambridge.