Web3 Social: Skeuomorphic, Then Not

For a long time, the web3 ecosystem had to organize and communicate on web2 platforms. From the memes of crypto twitter to the project-specific communities that congregated in Discord and Telegram, there were no dominant web3 platforms. That is changing quickly and there is something special happening in web3 social right now. 

Over the past several years, we have seen a series of new projects emerge that finally give the web3 community a place of their own. They are unique, constantly evolving, and growing quickly. These projects have real tailwinds because people who like crypto have an explicit preference to use crypto-native products instead of web2 ones (even if they are less convenient to use), they are willing to experiment with and try new things, and nascent communities are always more fun than big ones with a lot of noise. 

The trend for a lot of these projects is that they begin as a skeuomorphic representation of their web2 counterparts to attract an initial audience, and then they rapidly experiment to introduce weird and crypto-native features. This is just the beginning of what we are seeing:

Twitter Warpcast

Reddit Warpcast Channels

Tumblr/Instagram Zora

Substack/WP Paragraph

Discord Towns

Patreon Fabric

TikTok Drakula

I’m sure there are plenty of other examples I am missing here. In all of these instances, the web3 version initially mirrors the web2 counterpart, but then they quickly diverge. A lot of times this divergence is marked by some crypto-native feature: financialization and minting as a web3 version of “liking,” things that can only happen because of web3 composability like Frames, the emergence of memetic tokens that transcend applications like DEGEN, etc. All of these things are new, they are weird, and they are uniquely web3. The other characteristic they share is they are simply more fun and entertaining than anything that exists in web2.

We are now beyond the hand-wavey language and posturing and pounding the table on “everything needs to be open and portable and LOUD NOISES” We are seeing applications emerge that are fun, have real DAU and utility, are birthing products and memes that transcend beyond those communities, and represent the beginning of a new wave of emergent social networks that are fundamentally different. And while it’s still early (when will it not be“early?”), things feel more promising, useful, and engaging than they ever have. 

At the very least, it’s a joy to see so many people rapidly experimenting together, building new products and features that could have never existed before, trying new things, and having a good time. It’s very reminiscent of early Twitter where an early community of curious people took a platform and morphed it to their liking. Now it gets to happen all over again, just with a new set of tools, functionality, and a permissionless and open system to ensure its future belongs to everyone. 

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