Web3 Social Will Lead to a ‘Renaissance of Feature-specific’ Apps
Yup’s Kabessa says “Twitter is our core competitor, rather than each other”
Twin Design/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks
Web3’s social media landscape is pretty chaotic, Chase Chapman says.
“I have struggled to adopt almost all Web3 social platforms because I don’t need five versions of Twitter.”
It’s especially a barrier for consumers who feel at home in well-established, massive Web2 communities like Twitter or Instagram.
Chapman, the host of the On the Other Side podcast (Spotify / Apple), spoke with Nir Kabessa, the co-founder of Web3 social network aggregator Yup, about the problem — and interestingly, the advantages — of fragmentation in the nascent space.
“It’s exciting and unfortunate simultaneously,” he says. The enormous amount of experimentation taking place in Web3 is a huge positive, he says, but the fact that social media is highly dependent on the network effect tends to limit the user experience.
With the growing variety of decentralized social protocols, it can be difficult to settle comfortably into the Web3 neighborhood. “Not having all your friends on the same platform or having only some of them on those platforms” is a source of friction, he says.
The path to success, Kabessa says, is to recognize that the EVM — the Ethereum virtual machine — is the underlying social network, rather than any of the competing individual protocols operating on it.
“Twitter is our core competitor, rather than each other.”
The EVM as the social network
Instead of expecting a singular decentralized social network to take on the Twitters and Instagrams of the Web2 world, Kabessa sees the EVM as a whole competing against centralized platforms.
“There’s an enormous advantage in adopting each other’s standards” to make this possible, he says, citing Farcaster and Lens Protocol as examples of platforms that are adopting an EVM identity with a common social graph.
“You’re signing in with Ether addresses to those platforms,” he says. In Lens Protocol’s case, Kabessa explains, minting, posting and other social activities take place on-chain. “I see every additional experiment like this is growing the EVM pie.”
Yup’s approach as a Web3 social aggregator is to gather in the variety of protocols to a singular interface, where the experience “feels much more uniform,” he says. “It’s not fragmented. They’re not missing any content from their friends that are hopping on these individual platforms.”
But even more importantly, he adds, users are not starting from scratch with their social graph of friends, followers and interests. “We already know a lot about them based on their on-chain activity and their behavior on these other platforms. So you really get this compounding value of bringing it all together.”
Kabessa explains that Yup provides a set of feeds from protocols like Lens, Farcaster, Mirror, and even from NFTs and the decentralized social media platform, Bluesky.
“You’re able to essentially post once and it’ll post to all those platforms,” he says, allowing for comments on posts and engagement with friends across protocols. “Not only is the content of your friends all in one place, but you’re actually able to engage with it.”
Whereas the walled gardens of Web2 social media would never allow for such an integrated experience between disparate platforms, Web3 has no such limitations, according to Kabessa.
“And that’s a massive advantage.”
Time for a social media renaissance?
With protocols like Lens and Bluesky open-sourcing their apps, Kabessa says they’re trying to make it “as easy as possible for new developers to start building clients on top of it.”
“That’s going to lead to a renaissance of very feature-specific clients that people are very eager to use,” he says.
One example of this shift in thinking is a retro-web project called “Old Instagram,” that “gave you version one of Instagram,” Kabessa says.
“It was doing really well on the app store until Facebook shut it down.”
“In this new world,” Kabessa says, “we’re gonna see a lot of examples of those things that I think will be really exciting. Like, give me the vintage version of Lens, or give me Farcaster with only the first thousand users, or give me a version of Bluesky that’s just videos.”
The ability to build at scale, he says, reliably knowing that the customized experiences won’t be restricted in some fashion “will incite people to build a lot of really exciting stuff.”
“And we’re already starting to see it a little bit.”
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