Recently Allmende, Ecobytes and the TransforMap community introduced a new family of tools to the everyday communication workflow, next to Discourses and Issues: the Matrix protocol and the Riot interface.
By quoting the developers, we want to answer the most obvious question towards such a new technology:
Matrix is an open standard for interoperable, decentralised, real-time communication over IP. It can be used to power Instant Messaging, VoIP/WebRTC signalling, Internet of Things communication - or anywhere you need a standard HTTP API for publishing and subscribing to data whilst tracking the conversation history.
Matrix defines the standard, and provides open source reference implementations of Matrix-compatible Servers, Clients, Client SDKs and Application Services to help you create new communication solutions or extend the capabilities and reach of existing ones.
Matrix’s initial goal is to fix the problem of fragmented IP communications: letting users message and call each other without having to care what app the other user is on - making it as easy as sending an email.
The longer term goal is for Matrix to act as a generic HTTP messaging and data synchronisation system for the whole web - allowing people, services and devices to easily communicate with each other, empowering users to own and control their data and select the services and vendors they want to use.
The ethymology of matrix states it as meaning uterus, womb or pregnant animal.
In common English the above means to offer a diverse enough solution against the increasing silofication of communication bubbles in a northern hemisphere world of abundant access to computing resources. It offers today what Tim Berners-Lee calls Socially Aware Cloud Storage. His answer to this question is
The Matrix protocol makes sure that message streams of users and communities remain available to communication partners, even if intermediaries within the network topology drop out or organise anew. The clue is that each organisation can run its own home server to remain in full data autonomy, while still being able to bridge to and interact with other messaging platforms.
Which clients to the Matrix network for computers and smartphones exist?
The most prominent family of interfaces to Matrix are the Riot clients for web browsers, iOS and Android.
- What is Riot? - video and clickable slide show
- Why Riot? - Own your own data!
- Riot Users - Developers and ad hoc teams
- Need help? - How to videos and FAQs
More software that connects to the federation is available from the Try Matrix Now! page.
What is it for?
Matrix is a distributed activity log which bridges multiple domains via so-called homeservers. Then it is up to the applications layered on top of it to give it a use.
It has been set up within our communities in trying to find alternatives to the commercial Slack communities, which have been spreading recently.
Should it be used as chatroom?
One examplanatory usage then is indeed a chat service with a glossy user facing component to give end users what they expect. It is a viable self-hosted alternative to Slack, gitter, Mattermost, Let’s Chat, Scrollback.io, Rocket.Chat and the likes which provides ease of traversing domains and instances.
Chat rooms can be public, private, with or without persistent logs. Then integrations bridge into other networks.
Yes, there is beta support for audio and video conferencing, whereas tthe first is more stable than the latter.
What is needed to join, what are the requirements?
To join conversation rooms on the Matrix network, equip yourself with a Riot client from above or
- anonymously, if you received a shared link to
- with an account from
matrix.allmende.ioand the associated
- with an account from your own home server
- with an account from this unofficial list of public Matrix servers
Should it be an official communication medium of TransforMap?
As applicable to all other http://allmende.io services, it is currently provided “as is”, without warranty of any kind. Such a decision cannot come from above, i.e. by escalating this question to an online group consensus process, but from adoption by solving everyday communication needs. It excels at multi-device workflows and federated data autonomy.