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An Example of Permissionless Identity


Last week I wrote an article a few weeks ago outlining what is Permissionless Identity and why it matters

This week I wanted to cover an example of a ecosystem/protocol/app that is the perfect example of Permissionless Identity and why it’s better than most web2 counterparts.

Let’s get into it ☕️

I know web3 social is a tired narrative that not everyone believes in it, but after hanging on Farcaster for the past few weeks — I see the promise.

Farcaster leverages Ethereum for the identity layer and then a distributed gossip network between peers (known as Hubs) to store messages. Here’s an image from the docs that explains how the Farcaster stack looks.

It’s important to note that Farcaster is the protocol, and Warpcaster is the client which is a specific implementation of the Farcaster (made by the team). Teams using their own protocols to build a flagship product is key. This is a strategy I believe every team that is building a protocol should be doing. You can’t outsource your first application. I saw a similar trend with my time in DeFi back in 2019.

What’s refreshing is the fact that Web2 social media forces only one implementation of a client for the protocol which means the data is locked and behind an API. This significantly limits what you can do with your data, and most importantly, your identity.

Let’s revisit the definition of permissionless identity:
“Portable, persistent identities that are cryptographically backed”.

Well, now imagine all your social data is portable to enable it to be used in many contexts. But also, your public on-chain identity being leveraged in a social context. Your identity in both contexts is unidirectional. I’ll explain what this means in more detail below.

To start off, Farcaster’s identity module allows you to connect multiple Ethereum addresses to your Farcaster ID by signing a signature to confirm the links between the wallets. Once you do, all your NFTs show on your profile.

“What’s the big deal?” I hear you ask. The big deal is the fact that when you visit an NFT collection you can find other Farcaster users who hold that NFT and reach out to them! How neat is that? Your on-chain identity that holds NFTs can now be used in your social Farcaster identity seamlessly to foster genuine social connections. NFTs are just the start. Imagine how many more use cases this could enable?

So the above is talking about using your on-chain identity in context of the Warpcast app (Farcaster client). What about using your Farcaster data in a different client?

Introducing https://flink.fyi/

It’s all the data on Farcaster, but displayed in a Reddit style interface! This was done completely independently from the original Farcaster team. Imagine that. You can literally create a new social media site, without having to port over all your friends. This is such a rich opportunity for all the web2 social media entrepreneurs that could never get their ideas off the ground because the social graph was locked in forever.

Just to demonstrate how open your data is, Dune recently integrated Farcaster as well. Here’s an example of a Dune dashboard that gives you insane analytics on everything that user has done since the beginning of time (including deleted messages)!

The dashboard below is for the Dune founder (dwr).

It’s fascinating seeing some of the more nuanced things like an accounts biggest fans, favourite users and also users who don’t engage back (one-sided users). For Dan, it looks like Qiao Wang and Vitalik don’t engage back actively with him.

Ultimately this is what the promise of social networking should have been. But, wasn’t due to the incentives of big tech that prevent data from being shown.

So far I’ve mentioned the Farcaster connected clients. But there’s a really interesting ecosystem of apps around it that make the experience so much more integrated and connected. For my next example, I’m going to mention Paragraph.xyz. Think of it as the crypto version of Substack — but far more interconnected.

I’m publishing this article on Paragraph and now any comments about this article on Farcaster will natively show up on the Paragraph article! How neat! As a content creator, the amount of duplication and cross-posting that occurs because of silly games like this is infuriating. Finally there’s a way forward that makes sense.

Bounty Bountycaster, launched by Linda Xie, recently launched as a Farcaster integrated application. Now unlike traditional bounty platforms, Bountycaster leverages the social graph produced by Farcaster in order to create a stronger degree of trust on the platform between transacting users. It’s apps like this that are uniquely leveraged through Farcaster and large public ledgers.

It’s things like this that make Farcaster magical and refreshing to experience relative to the existing landscape of social media. What you see at the moment is just the tip of the ice berg. There’s so much more to come that it’s hard to fully understand what else could be possible with this level of interoperability. I’d imagine in the future, more Farcaster clients will start competing for mindshare and also hint the possibilities of being venture backed to hit large scale returns. Far fetched, but possible.

In closing, I’m extremely excited about Farcaster and the opportunity it represents for permissionless identity and web3 social. I’m personally sick of Twitter and the games Elon plays. I spent years building a following of close to 10,000+ followers, only for my posts to receive no more than 10 likes anymore. The algorithm is my overlord, and I as a human, must submit to my algorithm’s creators. Fuck that.

Farcaster is the last social network I will be beholden to, because in the worst case, my social graph can easily be exported into the next social network. There are consequences of every tweet you write never being deletable but I think it’ll be net-better for humanity than not given the age of misinformation we live in.

If you enjoyed this article, follow me on my many fragmented identities:

  1. https://warpcast.com/kerman

  2. https://twitter.com/kermankohli

  3. https://www.youtube.com/c/defiweekly


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