Free to Use

or one reason I am excited about Farcaster Frames

In the last two weeks Farcaster frames have created a frenzy on both CT and Warpcast. Loads of developers are building frames, tooling to make it easier to build frames, etc. I didn't get them at first, so I've been trying to understand why they're so exciting. After experimenting with frames for a few days and experiencing both the good and the bad I think there are two reasons to be excited:

  • We've never had an open, programmable social feed. The glory days of web2 social existed while Facebook and Twitter had open APIs. I'd be willing to bet most of the folks tinkering on Farcaster were not coding during those days. So this is the first time our class of engineers, hackers, and tinkerers have had the opportunity to use a programmable social feed. And while most of the experiences are subpar, or just don't work that doesn't mean there isn't something magical happening. I have confidence that they will only continue to get better and there will be some really interesting frames that popup and meaningfully improve the product experience and change the shape of distribution on social.

  • A free to use experience. For all of the frames I have used, I never once have converted when asked to connect a wallet. The most magical feeling is using a crypto product, not connecting a wallet, not paying for a transaction, and not having to go to etherscan to see if it succeeded. Yet this is the standard experience. All of the frames I have used have been completely free to use.

The first reason showcases the power of an open social network, which was clearly the intention. The second reason may have been less intentional but I think might pull harder at a global truth for crypto products. If we can make other crypto products free and easy to use, there is a fertile ground for experimentation and fast feedback from users.

While frames have supercharged a lot of experimentation with a free to use programmable social feed the truth is most of the frames are not very good experiences yet. "Minting" a frame NFT is an odd experience. Most of time it's already minted out. When I have minted an NFT it's completely untraceable.

If only there was a way to use crypto products freely, without sacrificing onchain verification! 🕵‍♂️

Another downside of frames is that they're self contained within the Farcaster protocol, so only Farcaster clients are able to create this programmable, free to use experience. But shouldn't we explore what it might look like to create a free to use experience for every crypto product? Ive previously written about vertically scaling crypto apps and my partner Chris has written about diseconomies of scale inherit to blockchains. Free to use products take our ideas to the extreme. And I think if there is something that other crypto products can takeaway from the Fames phenomenon it's what happens when you create an experience that is free to use.

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