How often do you try new restaurants with old friends?
Not all friend groups do so - sometimes there aren’t many options in town. Sometimes, a group finds “their place” and sticks to it.
Often though, we humans like to mix it up.
This is different online, where trying new things as a group isn’t as common. If you’re a member of a Facebook Group, how often do you interact with that group outside of Facebook? How often does your Subreddit hop into Clubhouse? If you’re an influencer, how often do you encourage your fanbase to meet up on a new platform? If you've never tried convincing a community to try a new platform, take it from me - it's not easy.
Communities correctly expect significant dropoff during any platform migration - a plethora (1, 2, 3, 4) of online guides lay out this painstaking process and help communities “set realistic expectations.” Members don’t like creating new accounts, especially if email is required.
This is odd, because the friction for trying new digital spaces should logically be lower than the friction for trying new IRL spaces. Trying a restaurant requires an upfront commitment of travel, time, and money. As an individual, the cost of trying a digital space is trivial - I visit new websites 100+ times a day. So why is it easier to gather friends at a new restaurant than on a new app?
The problem is that users don’t own their relationships in web2 - so communities are held hostage to the platforms that do. I have a relationship with platforms, who own the relationship between me and my followers, or between me and everyone else in my [Facebook / Twitter / Google / Reddit / etc] Group. Platforms are intermediaries that act as toll roads for connection. Web3's promise is to disintermediate these gatekeepers.
Web3 alleviates much of this digital friction. In web2, users need to create an account to sign in and re-establish relationships on every platform separately. In web3, users connect with an already-public wallet where their relationships are stored on-chain through tokens.
Tokens serve as a fundamental building block of community in Web3. They serve as on-chain connections between both wallets and smart contract addresses. Stored on decentralized blockchains instead of centralized platform databases, tokens define the relationship between a community and its members. Any dApp can immediately recognize that relationship without needing to know anything more about a new user.
To illustrate the point, consider a creator’s relationship with their fans in web2. If I’m a superfan, I might:
Despite all of these touchpoints, the creator doesn’t have a direct relationship with me anywhere. Many fans aren’t active on most touchpoints - they’ll follow the creator on platforms where they already have an account. That relationship needs to be re-established separately on each new platform. The creator likely doesn’t even know if I’m the same person on any two of these platforms.
In web3, all community members hold a decentralized token establishing their membership and role within a given collective, independent of any platform. In a creator community governed by tokens:
The use cases are myriad:
Web3 gives communities direct ownership of their relationships and offers them the ability to bring those relationships to any token-enabled experience. This new portability offers tremendous incentives for builders to create an ecosystem of niche, interoperable experiences and services for collectives that were previously unviable.
In this future, collectively moving between new digital experiences will be easier, not harder, than doing so in the real world.