A friendly new protocol has just dropped on the ever-expanding Ordinals ecosystem. Dubbed .frens, the project brings the social aspect of Bitcoin onto its immutable blockchain.
Spawning from the decade-old meme term fren–which means friend–the .frens protocol is designed to build a social graph on Bitcoin where users declare their social connections via Ordinals Inscriptions. The protocol also relies on an indexing feature that creates a reputation score depending on how many interactions a particular address has—a measure of social capital.
The protocol shares its name with many other unrelated projects, including a Fren Protocol deflationary pepecoin token, a Frens Protocol oracle API, and a Frenz NFT metaverse. But the .frens protocol—which relies on the Ordbit inscription service—is the only one focused on social connections.
“Making friends and networking is key in real life and the digital domain,” said the protocol’s pseudonymous creator, Doggfather, with the latter type of interaction mostly happening on Twitter. He explained to Decrypt, however, that on the centralized Twitter platform, accounts and handles get seized daily, proving that “you don’t own your network or audience on Web2 platforms.”
For Doggfather, the new .frens protocol ecosystem “is a way to use Ordinals to come closer to the Web3 ethos of a decentralized social network on Bitcoin.” As he told Decrypt, “you own your .frens soulbound token.”
Vitalik Buterin once proposed Soulbound Tokens (SBT), a non-transferable token that represents credentials and affiliations within DeSoc—decentralized society—and are linked to Souls, a type of address that establishes provenance.
Doggfather uses the same vernacular as Ethereum’s creator, writing in his exhaustive and elaborate .frens guide that Soulbound tokens are blockchain-based tokens representing a person’s characteristics, features, traits, and achievements.
He contrasts them with Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), delineating that these cannot be transferred from your soul, or wallet.
According to Jake Gallen, head of NFT strategy and product at Emblem, introducing .frens as SBTs on Ordinals means they are “absent of speculative principles.” He told Decrypt that “it’s going to take some time for it to become adopted but has the ability to be a cornerstone protocol of the non-financialized sector of Ordinals.”
The use-cases are plentiful, Doggfather said.
“Once the .frens network reaches a critical network size, it will become a robust reputation signal to the Ordinals and Bitcoin community,” he explained. “Users with high .frens scores will have cheaper DeFi loans, need to pledge less collateral, and their Ordinals collection drops will achieve better primary and secondary market outcomes.”
Although the .frens protocol remains in private beta, allowing Doggfather and his team to sort out the kinks and test the network, the creator predicts a bullish trend for anything Ordinals-related.
“Whether it’s the .frens protocol, metaverse projects, or digital identities, these projects will outlive us,” he told Decrypt. “We are experiencing history in the making.”