Free2Z is a web3 platform that allows creators to privately and securely share quality content with their communities and earn ZEC in the process. We successfully completed a grant last year to launch this application and now we are requesting additional support from the Zcash community to take Free2z to the next level with:
- improved user experience
- live streaming capabilities
- improved content discovery and delivery
- media library and uploads
- scalable infrastructure
- hardened security
- proactive, A+ attention to privacy
- integrated AI tools (with privacy)
- compelling marketing
- education campaign focused on Zcash promotion
- Zcash protocol upgrades and continued collaboration with developers across the Zcash ecosystem
Our goal is for Free2z to demonstrate the potential of Zcash to power a new generation of privacy-oriented applications with integrated secure payments.
Free2z has been developed by 2Z Inc, a software development company founded by Skylar Saveland (CEO) and Jonathan Bird (CFO). Both Skylar and Jonathan are experienced software engineers with a background in crafting performant and scalable software solutions. Skylar has worked as a senior software engineer at JPMorgan Chase and SAP. Jonathan has worked as a senior software engineer at SAP and previously developed microservices for identity verification at JPMorgan Chase. In the past year, Skylar has been architecting and building out the software stack for Free2Z, while Jonathan has been working on the legal and financial stability of the organization.
Zcash provides the ideal solution to handle the payments layer of a privacy-oriented social media platform, but its adoption by social media has been sparse. The initial proof of concept of Free2z was a step in the right direction but still has a lot of room for improvement. Free2z seeks to become the privacy-oriented social media platform of note and help drive Zcash adoption as a consequence.
With sufficient development and user education, Free2z could provide an alternative to the ad-driven, big tech platforms that dominate the market, offering privacy, security, and the option of anonymity. With a focus on real user feedback and lean, efficient, iterative software development practices as well as a strong focus on privacy and the absence of ads or tracking cookies, Free2Z has the potential to become a popular choice for creators and communities looking for a more ethical and sustainable alternative to the data vampires and panopticons of big tech.
With rich pages, interactive livestreams (Free2Z Live), peer-to-peer micro-transactions (2Zs), cloud storage and content delivery (Free2Z Media), and unique features like threaded comments with Free2z-flavored markdown, AI assistance (Free2Z Storytime) and creator-to-creator subscriptions (Free2Z Circles), we aim to grow and maintain our platform to continue providing premier services to the Zcash community. Free2z has been developing at a rapid pace with over 125 releases in the last 90 days and now we are requesting additional support from the Zcash community to develop Free2z from a robust Proof-of-Concept to a polished, scalable application that is ready for mass adoption. With this new grant, we seek to transform Free2Z into an even more powerful tool for creators and the Zcash community that will help to showcase the power and utility of Zcash as a technology and help to promote increased day-to-day use of Zcash by the public at large.
The proposed solution is to develop Free2z into a rock-solid platform for content creators that offers a variety of features and tools designed to support creators and communities as they share and support each other’s work. These features and tools include:
- Free2Z Live: Interactive live broadcasts that can be used to engage, collaborate, teach …
- Scalable, high-quality, features-rich meetings, webinars, screenshare, chess games
- Free2Z Pages: Receive donations, showcase projects, share content, open discussions
- Math, Code, embeds, anonymous zcash comments, threaded comments
- Free2Z Cloud: Upload files to secure cloud storage
- Free2Z Media: Upload and use images and video assets throughout the platform
- Free2Z Circles: Pay to follow the content creators of your choice and get exclusive content
- Free2Z Converse: threaded comments make long conversations easier to understand
- AI Integrations: Access AI tools to improve and generate content, as well as develop images and art based on a prompt (Free2Z Storytime)
- Peer-to-Peer donations
- Micropayments: Pay or tip content creators instantly!
Marketing and Education
Free2z is powered by Zcash and one of the key takeaways from our POC was that there is a deeply symbiotic relationship between Zcash and Free2z. Users who had never heard of Zcash but were interested in using Free2z automatically have to learn the following to use the application:
- What is Zcash?
- Zcash wallets and how to sync them
- Peer-to-peer payments with QR codes
- Shielded versus Transparent transactions, etc.
At the same time, the learning curve of Zcash/crypto knowledge was a bit too steep for some users, dissuading them from using the product. This is why improving the state of Zcash education in general is a top priority of the Free2z team. We would like to produce the following:
- More written content on Free2z explaining Zcash and what it is
- Content on Zcash integrations on Free2z
- Printable graphics/content on Zcash and Zcash with Free2z
- Video content explaining Zcash on Free2z, Youtube, and TikTok
- Both written and video tutorials on Wallets, Payments with ZEC, and Free2z
- Since there is a strong interest in Free2z in Latin America, we will be developing content in both Spanish and English
We would also like to leverage Free2z to generate hype and excitement about Zcash through contests to win ZEC and other ZEC giveaways, like:
- Contests: thisJanuary Free2z hosted its first non-fiction writing contest with a top prize of 3 ZEC, won by Yendira Digital
- Wallet promotions
- Bug bounties paid in ZEC
- User feedback bounties paid in ZEC
- UA-only airdrops
Another major education effort will be refactoring the documentation website to a powerful new experience powered by Docusaurus, including:
- Improved searchability
- SEO optimization
- Easy-to-use UI
Our docs will include a wealth of information about both Free2z and ZEC.
Free2z is running on a modern, robust cloud architecture leveraging Kubernetes and following current best practices. However, we need additional funds for scalability, security audits and consultations.
- Cloud Build: Cloud Build is a fully managed build service that compiles source code, runs tests, and builds containers. We will use Cloud Build to automate the build and deployment process for our platform, ensuring that it is efficient, consistent, and scalable.
- Bazel: Bazel is a fast, scalable, and efficient build system that can handle large codebases and complex dependencies. We will use Bazel as the build tool for our platform to ensure fast and reliable builds.
- PostgresSQL, an open-source relational database noted for high scalability will handle the application’s data storage needs. This will allow us to store and access our data in a scalable, secure, and reliable manner.
The use of Free2z’s modern cloud stack necessitates non-trivial costs. However, it has huge potential benefits for Free2z in the long term such as:
- Portability: Kubernetes means that we can move our infrastructure to virtually any cloud provider if necessary to avoid censorship…
- Scalability: Cloud infrastructure allows for on-demand scaling, which means Free2z can deploy or scale-down resources based on current needs
- Reliability: Cloud Providers have enormous infrastructure and can guarantee our users >99.99% uptime and reduced risk of data loss compared to running our own infrastructure.
- Security: Cloud Providers continually updates relevant software and other security measures to stay ahead of new threats
Free2z will make it extremely easy for creators to start a Zoom-style live stream from within their Free2Z Page. Creators will be able to broadcast to large audiences (scalable to thousands) and even to bring participants up on stage for conference style discussions with full streaming video.
- Live broadcasting panel discussion
- Real Time text chat
Video On Demand
Many users find video content to be more engaging and dynamic than text. Video on Demand on Free2z will include the following features:
- HD quality
- Securely stored (to avoid copying or downloading videos)
- Easily uploaded and shared on Free2z profiles
Creators will also be able to securely upload image content to their Free2z profiles.
User Interface Improvements
Free2z users have been clear that the User Interface needs to be improved. For this next phase of development, we will completely refresh the UI while adding a ton of new features to make the experience more attractive and easy to use. Since the Free2z team does not have any UI/UX experts we will hire expert consultants to redesign the site and improve the frontend codebase. We’ll also need to hire a part-time QA resource to find regressions in the flood of new feature development.
It’s also time to polish the UI and add new features that will greatly enhance the user experience. While serviceable, the comments section of each zPage can be a bit tricky to navigate when conversations get interesting (as they often do). Free2z will implement comment threads to make it easier to follow and understand comments.
We will also move to a cleaner UI for the main search page featuring individual cards that are responsive and show off the key information about each Free2Z Page in an actionable way.
Free2z will feature modern styles and animations throughout the new design including a sweet new loading animation loaded with short nuggets of text wisdom.
Other new UI features:
- Member Circles (fan-following)
- New logo and color scheme
- Homepage updates
- Updated design of profile page
- Optional authentication with external providers like Twitter, Facebook, etc.
One key point of innovation will be the integration of AI throughout the user experience. Creators will be able to use AI to generate text content based on user prompts. They will also be able to generate art and images based on text prompts or text context. This full integration of AI will allow users to increase the pace, sophistication and scope of their content generation. It will make developing content easier and fun than ever before. The wide variety and quality of content should also improve user engagement on the platform.
Micropayments backed by Zcash
Another key aspect of the proposed solution is the integration of 2Zs, in-app credits that can be thought of as a “layer 2” for Zcash, offering unique and flexible, high-throughput micropayments backed by Zcash. 2Zs can be used for a variety of purposes on the platform, such as
- boosting pages,
- paying for storage
- subscribing to creators
- upvoting or downvoting content
- Accounting tools to keep track of in-app credits
Users will be able to purchase 2Zs with Zcash, and the ultimate goal for 2Zs is to allow users to withdraw their balance to shielded Zcash. However, finding the right accounting and legal footing for this feature may be challenging. Initially 2Zs will be used as in-app credits only.
Impact on Different Groups
Retail ZEC holders: Our solution for Free2Z will provide retail ZEC holders with a platform for using their ZEC in a variety of ways, such as supporting content creators, boosting pages, and subscribing to creators. The integration of 2Zs as a “layer 2” for Zcash will also allow retail ZEC holders to engage in high-throughput micropayments backed by Zcash. Additionally, the use of 2Zs on the platform will create demand for ZEC, as every 2Z sold will be backed by shielded ZEC.
Zcash core devs: The proposed solution for Free2Z will provide opportunities for collaboration and exploration between the Free2Z team and the Zcash core devs as they continue to grow and innovate together. Free2Z will continue to be a significant user of Zcash at scale, running nodes and working on the CI/CD of Zcash upgrades and test environments, and exploring potential innovations such as running Zcashd on k8s.
Wallet devs: The proposed solution for Free2Z will provide wallet devs with a platform for developing integrations and interfaces for Zcash and 2Zs, potentially leading to new opportunities for wallet development and adoption. Free2Z will have a growing user base that is using ZEC on a daily basis, providing wallet devs with a significant user base to develop for. We will be using and contributing to all of the Zcash wallets. We are already prepared to be the first customers for a WASM library and ZSAs/UDAs. We may also open source idiomatic libraries for interacting with zcash RPC in multiple languages. We will track important libraries in the Zcash ecosystem, contribute to them where possible and necessary, open-source code in the Free2Z ZUU (Zcash UI Universe) and generally work with the entire Zcash community in git/github.
DeFi users: The proposed solution for Free2Z will provide DeFi users with a platform for using their ZEC and other cryptocurrencies in a variety of ways, such as supporting content creators, boosting pages, and subscribing to creators. The integration of 2Zs as a “layer 2” for Zcash will also allow DeFi users to engage in high-throughput micropayments backed by Zcash. Free2Z will also explore possibilities for blending web2 and web3 in interesting ways, potentially resulting in the creation of 2Zs as one of the first “ZSAs” (Zcash shielded assets).
Zcash community participants: The proposed solution for Free2Z will provide Zcash community participants with a platform for engaging with content creators and supporting their work, as well as the opportunity to participate in the development and growth of the platform as it expands its capabilities and offerings.
Budget and Milestones:
|Free2Z Feature Development||1,900||$110||$209,000|
Milestone 1 - Free2Z Live, AI tools, Infrastructure, Security and Uploads - estimated completion date: 3/17/2023
- Free2Z Live, Creators can launch a live stream from their profile, with:
- Zoom-style panel discussions with multiple participants on stage
- Real time text chat
- Play a virtual chess game in a livestream
- AI Tools integration
- Intelligently generate text content based on a prompt
- Leverage AI to generate images based on a prompt
- Cloud infrastructure including:
- web servers
- Storage (database)
- Deployment of Kubernetes containers
- Build and deploy code using Cloud Build and Bazel
- Deployment of full Zcash node on Cloud
- Security min-audit.
- Security analysis from security expert(s)
- Upload an image to a user’s media library
- Cloud storage working
Milestone 2 - Layer 2, Security and Privacy - estimated completion date: 6/17/2023
Development of 2Zs as “layer 2” for Zcash, including:
Donating to creators
Subscribing to creators
Setting a subscription price
Upvoting and downvoting
Generating images and text with AI
Managing Free2Z Circles
Uploading members-only pages and media
- Security and Privacy
- Another security audit. Follow up from the first security audit especially reviewing amelioration of any issues found in the first security audit
- Review privacy practices and explore opportunities for improvement
- New docs experience powered by Docusaurus, including:
- Improved searchability
- SEO optimization
- Easy-to-use UI
Milestone 3 - Education and UX - estimated completion date: 9/17/2023
- Videos on Zcash education in English and Spanish on Free2z and popular social media platforms.
- Content (text and video) on how to use Zcash on Free2z
- Zcash for beginners series published on Free2z
- More contests and giveaways, UA-only airdrops, etc.
- UI/UX redesign, colors, usability, homepage, etc
- Animation and performance enhancements (loading animations, etc)
- Video on Demand. Video uploads and HD streaming video.
- Free2Z Converse. Flexible and lucid comment threads
- Auth options. Oauth authentication with Twitter and other common providers (maybe Github, Gmail or Facebook). Other possible options, based on what creators want, possible MFA and recovery options.
Total proposed value of grant: $333,000 USD
We’ve been thrilled by the support from the Zcash Community and Zcash Foundation and are so grateful for all the feedback and encouragement from this community as we continue to develop tools for content creators and communities. Overall, our proposed solution will involve a combination of technical development, Zcash education and promotion, and community engagement to continue to grow and improve the Free2Z platform.