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This Week in Farcaster - February 18, 2023 - Sponsored by Purple

Merkle Manufactory renames its clients to Warpcast; LA meetup; builder updates.

This edition is sponsored by Purple, a DAO whose goal is to proliferate and expand the Farcaster protocol and ecosystem. Interested in sponsoring a future edition? Send us a reply to this email!

Farcaster News and Links

Editor's note: Due to the timing of the web client release, this week's edition features a mix of Sharecaster.xyz and Warpcast.com links.

Now Warpcast is my best friend

At the beginning of the week, it seemed possible things might be quiet for a few days on the Farcaster front as Merkle Manufactory was holding a team on-site, not to mention the IRL Farcaster meetup being held in conjunction with Chapter One. That prospect vanished Tuesday night when @dwr, a.k.a. Farcaster cofounder Dan Romero, dropped some alfalfa: "Big new feature launch tomorrow! Make sure you're on App Store or Play Store version of the mobile app!"

On Wednesday, the news came: Merkle Manufactory was renaming its apps to Warpcast, effective immediately (although new versions would take some time to be released and propagate to users), and it had also launched a web client at Warpcast.com. The protocol will remain Farcaster. In a cast Thursday, Romero offered some analogies ā€“ Farcaster is to Warpcast as email is to Gmail and as Ethereum is to MetaMask.

The name change comes as Farcaster is experiencing some of its highest usage to date, according to a cast by Romero last weekend. "After a slow start post-holidays, Farcaster is on track for its best metrics week in nearly two months," said Romero.

Farcaster will remain represented by the arch logo, Romero said in a FAQ, and users should still think of themselves as being on the Farcaster protocol, just like you wouldn't say "I'm on TweetBot" when talking about your quickly-fading Twitter habit. The original shade of purple used for Farcaster's logo will remain with the protocol, while Warpcast uses a slightly different/darker shade.

As for the name itself, Romero said that the selection process began last summer, then paused for a bit, before resuming when it came time to choose a web client domain. The requirements for the name were: Easy to pronounce, semantically linked to Farcaster, trademarkable, and keeping the pattern of two words joined together. Romero said that another name tossed around was Fatline. In a later cast, Romero also noted that thanks to a nudge by @cynthia he has picked up warpcast.eth, foiling any potential namesquatters.

Romero also held an AMA about the name change on Thursday. A few pieces of additional news:

  • Future icon changes are definitely on the table. Romero noted that, "Most brands take a while to get their logo right," and shared an image of Airbnb's logo evolution over the years.

  • Company/brand accounts are being considered, Romero said, but in a way that they are labeled "company/brand" and kept separate from the human-centric feed. "Might be too opinionated / paternalistic, but we'll likely try something later this year," he said.

  • Romero said that in retrospect, he wishes the name change had been done sooner. Asked about the cost-benefit of confusion from a name change vs. creating opportunities for new clients, Romero said that it will be confusing, but added cheerily that he fortunately has the capacity to repeat the same message 1000x. "Short term pain for UX but long term gain for the protocol," he said. "It's a compounding benefit."

  • Will the official Merkle client ever have ads? "Ever is a strong word," Romero quipped, but said there are no plans for ads. He linked to the open source Monetization doc in Merkle's Notion.

  • Supporting extensions/apps in the official Merkle client is not a priority for now. "A possibility, but not in the near term," said Romero. "A lot of stuff to ship to make it easier for other developers to build their own apps."

  • Similarly, multi-account support isn't a priority for now. "Once it's easy to write from other clients, great opportunity to try out a second client," said Romero. "You can always install desktop and then install the iOS app via the App Store if you want two clients on a Mac."

Some technical notes about the web client:

  • In the AMA, Romero noted that all of the clients now operate from the same monorepo setup by @nickcherry, a.k.a. Nick Cherry, an engineer with Merkle Manufactory, which will be sticking with React Native for its mobile apps. The web app does not use React Native. "Briefly considered it, but when I tried to enable locally, the app wouldn't run ā€“ some websocket/fast-refresh issue iirc," said Cherry. "I ultimately decided it wasn't worth troubleshooting given that the upside didn't seem that compelling." He added that the monorepo setup already has several packages to enable shared data fetching code.

  • @v, a.k.a. Varun Srinivasan, cofounder of Farcaster, said that Cherry went "beast mode" to build the web client in a few weeks, and @gt, a.k.a. Goksu Toprak, and @sds, a.k.a. Shane daSilva, helped with all the work to get it over the finish line.

  • You might have notice that the Warpcast.com links don't use the full hash of an individual cast in the URL, instead using the prefix only (e.g. https://warpcast.com/sds/0xc445b7 compared to https://warpcast.com/sds/0xc445b7bad5466a0133954fd6feaa5730c646d9854c29d30da1b05ceacac6b062). daSilva explained how this work: "Since the protocol allows up to 10k casts per user (before old casts start getting automatically pruned) we ended up being comfortable with the relatively small chance of a collision generated for a single user. Worst case, you can always add a few more characters, similar to Git."

Just days after it launched, Warpcast.com made it all the way to the front page of Hacker News by way of @breck, a.k.a. Breck Yunits, who submitted @giu's cast about Open AI buying AI.com for $11 million. daSilva shared a chart showing the Hacker News effect and said the servers held up fine. (HT @cameron)

Warpcast ended up on Android with an unintentional Cardi B reference. The "Wapcast" typo was first spotted by @payton. Romero explained that the cause was a typo in the Expo file and that the name should be fixed in the next day or two. "Enjoy Wapcaster in the meantime," he said.

Builders gonna build

A couple different apps launched this week that aim to provide a longform lens onto the Farcaster ecosystem. @san announced that he's building ReadCaster.in. "The idea is to explore how a Hacker News/Flipboard/Pocket built on top of FC or open graphs would be and can be useful," they said in the launch cast. A beta is anticipated next week.

@loracle launched Omilos.xyz, a new Farcaster client that integrates a feed of all Paragraph/Mirror posts created by Farcaster users. Omilos aims to be lightweight and AI-driven, according to its about page. (HT @colin)

New feature on the stats site Farcaster.network: User Growth Percentage. Builder @zachterrell, a.k.a. Zach Terrell, announced the new metric this week. The metric is calculated as the ratio of weekly new users compared to total users. Additionally, the service tweaked its "Market Cap" metric to be "Buying Power," builder @greg, a.k.a. Greg Skriloff, said in a cast Wednesday, adding that illiquid/hard to evaluate NFTs were removed as part of the change. "Yes that means the number will be lower, but it's more conservative/accurate so we can feel more confident about the metric," said Skriloff. (As of writing this blurb, user growth was 1.8% and buying power was $54.8 million.) The service also expanded its scrollable trending list this week from 15 to 50 users.

Purple is looking into ways to subsidize the cost of running a Hub in order to help increase Farcaster's decentralization. DAO member @billzh, a.k.a. Bill Zheng (who we profiled in the very first edition of this newsletter), casted about the idea on Thursday. "Would you be interested in running a hub to help increase FC's decentralization?," he asked. "What if @purple gives you funding? We are discussing a potential Purple funding program for hub operators, but would love to understand the interest level first." Zheng said that according to @v, a.k.a. Varun Srinivasan, cofounder of Farcaster, the current estimated monthly cost to run a Hub is ~$100.

Zheng is also building the Farcaster client Alphacaster.xyz, which this week added support for DAO governance voting. Zheng announced the feature on Wednesday. The feature is in beta for Purple only right now, but you can send Zheng a direct cast at @billzh if you'd like to see your DAO included.

Kudos are in order for @kudos, a new bot in the works as "a simple way to send a sign of appreciation through a cast," according to the launch cast. Built by @sheldon, a.k.a. Sheldon Trotman, the bot is planned to operate entirely on-chain. "All the contracts and code will be open-sourced and launched soon!"

@pfista, a.k.a. Michael Pfister, welcomed Warpcast while also wondering if this marked the end for his service, Sharecaster.xyz, which was first to provide web-friendly links for casts. "This day was inevitable," he said. "Time for a pivot?" Pfister received suggestions both of how he could pivot, as well as lean into Sharecaster by building features like dynamic OG content or allowing Sharecaster users to select a client of choice.

GetPurple.xyz has added the ability to sort Farcaster users by 12 different engagement metrics: Casts, Followers, Following, Likes, Likes by others, Replies, Replies by others, Watched by others, Recasts, Recasted by others, Joined first, and Joined latest. @betashop, a.k.a. founder Jason Goldberg, announced the new sort options on Wednesday and gave credit to @ace, a.k.a. Alex Kwon, and @balajis, a.k.a. Balajis Srinivasan, for the push to get it done quickly.

Inspired by the Merkle Manufactory name change, @df, a.k.a. David Furlong, shared his naming process for Discove in a Paragraph post, along with debuting the first logo for Discove. Discove also got accepted into the a16z Crypto Startup School, Furlong announced, and will be hiring two senior engineers. "The success of a Decentralized Protocol like Farcaster would free the world to innovate in Social again, and Iā€™m here, building every day for that future," said Furlong.

A Farcaster dev call was held on Thursday. You can find the agenda here or watch the recording on YouTube.

@dylsteck, a.k.a. Dylan Steck, shared an in-depth research article title 'The Boom of Farcaster's Developer Community.' Read it here.

Farcaster client Phrasetown.com added threads to its info-dense feed display, builder @pixel, a.k.a. Vincent Liao, announced Wednesday.

@lndnnft, a.k.a. Landon, shared on update on MusicCaster, the Turntable-like service he's building to let you "vibe with your fellow Farcasters." He posted a UI screenshot showing both listening now functionality as well as listening parties. "Needs a lot of work but I'm not upset with how it's coming together," he said.

Prolific Farcaster builder @greg, a.k.a. Greg Skriloff, is thinking about adding an optional, post-usage donation prompt to Fardrop.xyz, his tool that lets you create an allowlist and Merkle tree based on your followers. "How do we feel about optional donation prompts after using an app?," he asked. "My thinking is that fardrop.xyz can/has created tangible value vs. just being a cool website so it feels reasonable to add, but I never want to come off greedy/pushy."

"Who's building the Farcaster browser?," @les, a.k.a. Les Greys, asked in an open question Farcaster. "To move between all the apps that are, and going to, built." @pugson noted that he previously kicked around the idea of a Farcaster superapp with "a modular approach where you can enable features that interest you and have a personalized experience with the protocol." If you're building this, let us know!

@colin, a.k.a. Colin Armstrong, made an open call for someone to build a bot similar to Twitter's @BigTechAlert. "Would be entertaining to see a similar 'X is no longer following Y' bot on Farcaster," he said.

@betashop, a.k.a. GetPurple.xyz founder Jason Goldberg, shared results from a login preferences survey he conducted with Farcaster users. "The question was: you're excited to use a new product that straddles web3 and web2," he explained. If you had to create an account, which would you use for login? Ethereum topped out the survey with 15 votes, while Google came in second with 6 votes, followed respectively by email, Github, and phone number, which all got only a handful or fewer of votes.

IRL fun

A Farcaster meetup was held at Chapter One HQ in Santa Monica on Wednesday night, with dozens of casters showing up and getting to cheers the new name for the Merkle clients.

@briang, a.k.a. Brian Guan, founder of @unlonely, challenged @dwr, a.k.a. Farcaster cofounder Dan Romero, to take a shot with him live on the stream and captured the clip for our delight. Oh yeah, and there's a clip of the actual shot-taking-action, too.

"The community IRL last night and digitally here is a testament to 'the energy you put out is the energy you get back,'" said @ted, also remarking on how genuine and thoughtful the Merkle Manufactory team seemed.

"It was cool to see so many Farcasters at the LA Meetup today šŸ’œ," said @cassie, a.k.a. Cassie Heart. "It really speaks volumes to the community that has grown here šŸ˜Š"

In the AMA about the Warpcast announcement, @dwr, a.k.a. Farcaster cofounder Dan Romero, gave a shoutout to his spot on the @unlonely live stream as one of the most memorable moments of the meetup.

@chromuh is looking for Farcasters who want to organize an NYC meetup. "Would love to coordinate with you," they said. "I have a space that is looking to get some activity going and would love to collaborate with the community."

Farcaster By the Numbers

Powered by Farcaster.network. Change calculations based on last week.

  • Weekly Active Casters: 1.5K (-100)

  • Monthly Active Casters: 2.9K (no change)

  • Total Casts: 466K (+17K)

  • Total Users: 9.4k (+300)

  • Average Casts per Day: 2,384 (+11)

  • New Users per Week: 242 (-84)

Sponsored by Purple

Purple is a DAO whose goal is to proliferate and expand the Farcaster protocol and ecosystem. The DAO operates on Nouns.Build, Discord, and Charmverse.

This Week in Purple

Purple passed a proposal to spend at most 3.6 ETH co-sponsoring a Farcaster meetup at ETH Denver, with the following vote count: 16 For, 0 Against, and 2 Abstain. Many members said they believed sponsoring such an event would help expand the Farcaster ecosystem. For example, in explaining his For vote, jpetrich.eth said, "This directly promotes the mission of expanding the Farcaster ecosystem." There was also a healthy debate in the community around whether this would be the best use of Purple's treasury, with 0x925a...8b25 (who abstained) arguing that Purple should "focus more on the direct funding on individuals, which is much higher leverage than a one-time event in a mostly U.S. demographic."

There is also an ongoing proposal regarding funding BotFrens integration with Farcaster, submitted by andreitr.eth. It aims to enable BotFrens' users to publish to Farcaster protocol and is asking 6 ETH to fund the development. Voting will end at ~12pm ET this Sunday

Purple got a shoutout in the UFO podcast by Nick Hollins with guest Jihad Esmail, in which they discussed why Purple had been super effective from day 1 and the power of Purple memes. Listen here.

Get to Know Purple

This week, meet Purple DAO member @moorereese.

Why did you want to join Purple?

Curiosity brought me here, purpose made me stay. When I first joined Farcaster (now Warpcast) there were handful of casters that I had a series of meaningful engagements with. A few of them ā€“ notably @phil, @ccarella, @kmacbeth ā€“ had the same purple PFP and @purple in their bios, which piqued my interest. When I looked into Purple, I was compelled by the goal to proliferate and expand the Farcaster protocol and ecosystem. Farcaster protocol has a number of qualities ā€“ its design around sufficient decentralization, a permissionless multi-client ecosystem, user's being able to own their data, blockchain integration ā€“ that I value.

When I found Purple, I was excited to see that a fellow group of builders and public goods enthusiasts had already organized all these things that I value. I also loved the implementation of the Nouns model, and the notion of using Purple to perpetuate the Farcaster meme. I consider Farcaster protocol and its ecosystem a public good, capable of producing myriad positive externalities. I also consider DAOs to be some of the best vehicles for managing public goods, especially digital ones. All these factors made purchasing a Purple a no-brainer for me.

What excites you most about Farcaster?

The first thing that comes to mind is the people and community. Never before have I engaged so meaningfully with strangers on the internet in a pubic forum. It's refreshing and energizing. I was never very active or interested in social media, but now I'm excited about it and its potential thanks to Farcaster.

From a protocol perspective, a number of things come to mind. Its design around sufficient decentralization, a permissionless multi-client ecosystem, user's being able to own their data, social identity portability, blockchain integration, the technical design.

What's listed on the Farcaster website, "Users will always have the freedom to move their social identity between applications, and developers will always have the freedom to build applications with new features on the network," really sums it up for me. The fact that the Merkle Manufactory team brought this intentional design and awareness into building the protocol from the foundation is super exciting to me. It opens and offers an encouraging and compelling design space for developers to experiment with and build new social applications. It also gives users confidence in ownership of their social data and online identity.

Suggested follows

New casters generally: @blobs, @rafa, @borodutch, @davisshaver, @les, @greg, @kmacb, @paperclypse, @maurelian

Upcoming Dates of Note

Mountain View IRL Farcaster Meetup

Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 6 p.m. PST - Steins Beer Garden & Restaurant

Eventcaster link

Farcaster meetup @ ETHDenver

Thursday, Mar. 2, at 5 p.m. MT

Eventcaster link

Job Listings

Nothing yet! Have a job listing we should add to a future edition? Send us a reply to this email!

Farcaster Posts of the Week

This newsletter is published with Paragraph.xyz. The format of this newsletter was inspired by Week in Ethereum News. With questions, comments, or other feedback, please send a reply to this email, or access the "farcaster-weekly" channel in Purple's Discord.

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