FreeSpeechMe is a free and open-source browser plug-in that lets Firefox users do what was previously rather difficult to achieve: surf dot-bit (.bit) domains.

Whereas a traditional website — dot-com, dot-org, dot-net, etc. — uses ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) as a DNS (domain name server), dot-bit sites use the Namecoin blockchain instead.

This marks a major difference in the two types of websites: domains served through ICANN can be taken down or censored by third parties, whereas domains served through Namecoin cannot.

There's been just one problem in surfing the dot-bit portion of the Web thus far: it has required a technical re-configuration of one's computer's DNS settings. For average computer users, this is both impractical and daunting. It's kept otherwise interested parties out of the dot-bit ecosystem entirely.

But then came FreeSpeechMe. This Firefox plug-in downloads the full Namecoin blockchain upon installation (which takes about five hours). After the blockchain downloads, users need only to restart their computer and — voila — their browser can now visit dot-bit sites as easily as dot-coms.

And what kind of action is going on in the dot-bit world, anyway? Not surprisingly, dot-bit domains have initially attracted several alternative media outlets. Podcasts like Freedom Feens, the Angel Clark Show, Bad Quaker, and Free Talk Live are among the pioneers in the dot-bit space.

Dot-bits are remarkably cheap to register at about ten cents a pop. The registration fee can be paid in either namecoins or bitcoins. Furthermore, if you already have a website, documentation for how to create your cheap and persistent dot-bit mirror is here.