My personal red pill to blockchain was the promise of portable data. In 2017, I discovered a protocol called Blockstack that, much like IPFS, was built on the idea of user data being portable. I built my first app in the yet-to-be-fully-defined Web 3.0 space in the summer of 2017 and finished that year by building my second app, Graphite Docs.
The promise of open data didn’t rise to the level of my hopes back then, so when Farcaster came onto the market and I first started looking into it, I was skeptical. But I was also intrigued. I dove in in late 2022, and I was immediately taken by the way the team approached building both a protocol and a client. Before I go on, I’ll give a quick summary of Farcaster.
Farcaster is a “sufficiently” decentralized social protocol. The Farcaster protocol is a network of Hubs that store copies of the network’s data. Any client can be built and user data is not locked into a single app. Warpcast is the reference client for the protocol, built by the same team. It feels a little strange calling it a reference client, though, because of its popularity. It is, by far, the most popular client, but that’s for good reason. The client itself is working to attract users and developers to the protocol.
Since I first began exploring Farcaster in 2022, the network has continued to grow. In the last couple of weeks, that growth has gone parabolic, thanks to the introduction of frames. Frames are a new primitive integrated into the protocol that allows developers to build in-feed apps. Think permissionless Facebook Instant Games.
Even before this growth, we’ve been interested in Farcaster because of the symbiosis we feel between the off-chain social data of Farcaster Hubs and the off-chain media of IPFS. How interested have we been?
In November of 2022, we began exploring Farcaster Hubs as a compliment to Pinata’s existing IPFS service. It was VERY early, but we never took our eyes off the developments.
In January of 2023, we built the first video-only client for Farcaster before the protocol was even on mainnet. We wrote a tutorial on building it, and we created a YouTube video.
We’ve also now written three different blog posts on Farcaster in the last 6 months (with many more coming).
Personally, I built a books-only client for Farcaster that is currently in closed beta.
So, it’s safe to say we’ve been paying attention, and we have been active in the community for a while now. Last week, we decide it was time to take action. We launched a free and open Farcaster Hub. Developers can leverage this Hub to build read and write applications. But this is only the beginning.
Pinata has been using Farcaster internally to build tools and apps and everything that requires media, of course, runs through IPFS. We want to help developers building rich media clients, frames, and bots on Farcaster to have as easy an experience as we have had. So, the Hub is just the first step.
The open data of Farcaster means a nearly limitless opportunity for developers. The distribution the Warcpast client has right now means that there will be a concentration on frame development and experiences, but as the network grows, more clients will be built. More automations will be created. Bespoke communities with their own needs will grow atop the protocol.
And Pinata will be there.
If you’re a developer building on Farcaster, please reach out. I’d love to hear from you! You can find our Hub endpoints here. And we created a Postman collection that you can import into your own Postman instance here.
February 6, 2024
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