Exploring Farcaster & Frames – the Composable Social Platform

Exploring Farcaster & Frames – the Composable Social Platform

Farcaster is a decentralized social networking platform similar to Twitter that is based on Optimism, Ethereum’s layer 2. Farcaster’s main goal is to facilitate communication and value transfer between different decentralized applications and platforms.

Founded by former Coinbase engineers Dan Romero and Varun Srinivasan in 2020, Farcaster is described as a “sufficiently decentralized” social network – we will see what this means later on. Farcaster launched its first version in November 2021. By June 2022, the platform already had over 100,000 active users. Farcaster is planning to release its v3 version in August which will allow anyone to register and use the protocol more easily and accessibly.

Vitalik Buterin praised the qualities of this social network and emphasized the importance of a pleasant user experience. According to him, cryptographic social networks, like games built on blockchain, should offer not only privacy and anonymity but also a satisfactory user experience. Buterin further pointed out that the growing concern for privacy is driving the popularity of decentralized social network applications as an alternative to the centralized social networks we use daily.

Farcaster Architecture: A mix of off chain and on chain data

Farcaster has a hybrid architecture that stores identity on-chain and data off-chain. On-chain stored data relates to security and personal identity, while off-chain data pertains to interactions (post, following another user, reactions, or profile picture updates). This design choice was made to optimize network costs.

Source: docs.farcaster.xyz

Funding:

The platform has raised a total of $30 million in its seed round, according to Coincarp. The round included a total of 24 investors, including funds like a16z, Coinbase Ventures, and Multicoin Capital.

What are Farcaster Frames?

Farcaster Frames allows developers to create integrated applications that run within the Farcaster feed. Users can interact with various applications such as polls, games, and other interactive experiences without leaving the platform. In this way, frames can facilitate the creation and minting of NFTs or conducting monetary transactions. They act as pop-ups that overlay the Farcaster UI. Within Warpcast or any other Farcaster client, polls, live feeds, or interactive galleries can be created.

These frames expand the OpenGraph standard and transform static embeds into interactive experiences. The diagram below illustrates the difference between a standard OG and a Frame OG within Warpcast.

Source: docs.farcaster.xyz

In this way, Frames are the basic unit of content in the platform. They are unique and versatile multimedia posts that can contain:

  • Text: Up to 280 characters.
  • Images: JPEG, PNG, GIF, and SVG.
  • Videos: MP4 and MOV.
  • Links: To websites and other frames.

Top 5 Farcaster Frames

  1. Chess on Farcaster: Participate in a game of chess directly within Farcaster.
  2. Base’s RPG Quest: Immerse yourself in an RPG adventure. 
  3. Sell Anything on Farcaster: This Frame introduces a new avenue for e-commerce, enabling users to sell items directly on Farcaster.
  4. Faucets Frame: Gain direct access to faucets on Warpcast.
  5. Cookiecaster Frame: Explore a unique method of purchasing cookies directly from Farcaster with Cookiecaster by simply casting.

Traction

The number of daily active users (DAU) on the network has surprised more than one, jumping from just 5,000 users to over 30,000 users as of March, 2024. The platform reached a peak in DAU in early February, with a total of more than 40,000 users.

Source: Dune

A noteworthy detail is the peak of activity on the Farcaster network, which temporarily caused Warpcast to experience a period of “degraded activity” on February 4th, according to a post by Farcaster founder, Dan Romero. The rapid growth of Farcaster comes at a time of lower activity for other decentralized social networks like Friend.tech.

Farcaster: The Ecosystem

Farcaster managed to onboard some applications building with its stack. Some of the social applications built on Farcaster include:

  • Warpcast: a Web3 social network with a user interface similar to Twitter, allowing users to share posts, interact with others, and showcase their NFTs. Warpcast is a wallet app developed by the Farcaster team.
  • Supercast: Supercast is a platform built on top of Farcaster that allows you to create, distribute, and listen to podcasts directly within the Farcaster ecosystem.
  • Yup:  Yup is a social media platform built on top of Farcaster that allows you to share short text posts, images, and videos with your followers.
  • Paragraph: a decentralized newsletter publishing platform similar to Substack, providing users with the ability to fully customize their content, automate email flows, and obtain detailed analytics.
  • Kiwi News: a crypto media application where users can participate using an NFT community pass, share links to events in the crypto space, and vote for the best content.

Farcaster vs Lens : 

Farcaster and Lens are two popular social protocols with unique approaches. Farcaster stores its publication data on a decentralized storage network called Hubs, ensuring accessibility for all, while Farcaster profiles are linked to users’ Ethereum accounts on the Optimism platform, ensuring that users own their digital identity.

On the other hand, Lens is an on-chain social graph and developer tool that allows users to own their own content. Interactions on Lens can be posted on-chain or on Momoka, the data availability and verification layer. When creating a profile on Lens, the user receives a sequentially numbered unique NFT, which serves as access to the protocol for actions such as following, posting, and commenting.

Warpcast is Farcaster’s flagship social networking client, with a user experience similar to X, while Phaver and Orb offer popular experiences on Lens. Other clients include Supercast, for more active Farcaster users; Sealcaster, which allows for anonymous postings using zk-proofs; and Tape, for media sharing on Lens.

Let’s to compare both platforms:

IDs or Profiles

Farcaster requires annual renewal of user handles, while Lens profiles require a one-time purchase. The choice between them depends on various factors.

Farcaster focuses on quality conversations and charges users to support its Hubs. However, it’s uncertain if this will drive widespread adoption. In contrast, Lens allows handle creation without renewal, potentially leading to misuse (creating fake / secondary Lens accounts or impersonating prominent brands). The long-term impact remains to be seen.

Social Graph

Lens securely stores profile data on-chain, ensuring consistency across platforms. Farcaster offers flexibility, though exporting followers may be necessary when switching clients.

Everything vs. Something On-Chain

Lens stores data on Polygon, enabling indefinite growth. Farcaster, with its off-chain solution, has limitations. While Lens’ approach is straightforward, it raises regulatory questions due to its immutable nature.

Extending The Protocol

Lens allows module extensions, offering versatility. Farcaster requires all hubs to upgrade for protocol changes, reflecting a more traditional open-source approach. Time will reveal which design is more effective.

Conclusion

What distinguishes protocols like Farcaster and Lens from web2 are features such as on-chain identity, payments, tokenization, and composability, which enable novel innovations. In Farcaster, new experiments are emerging like $DEGEN, a tradable token that users can use to tip others. Additionally, tools like Bountycaster allow users to complete tasks to earn rewards in USDC. Lens’s open actions feature embeds custom actions in posts, enabling new functionalities in social feeds, such as payments, NFT creation, and token issuance.

These protocols also drive the creation of tokenized games, prediction markets, and tools for easier data aggregation, leading to vast potential for innovative experiments, applications, and infrastructures. The composable nature of platforms like Farcaster make them into potential platforms for further development on top. Farcaster just concluded FarCon, a one week event and hackathon dedicated to builders in the ecosystem. It will be exciting to see what new use cases will emerge.


This article has been written and prepared by Renato Martinez, a member of the GCR Research Team, a group of dedicated professionals with extensive knowledge and expertise in their field. Committed to staying current with industry developments and providing accurate and valuable information. GlobalCoinResearch.com is a trusted source for insightful news, research, and analysis.


Disclaimer: Investing carries with it inherent risks, including but not limited to technical, operational, and human errors, as well as platform failures. The content provided is purely for educational purposes and should not be considered as financial advice. The authors of this content are not professional or licensed financial advisors and the views expressed are their own and do not represent the opinions of any organization they may be affiliated with.

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