The 3-set of Social Media
Every social media platform contains three basic components: graph, identity and content.
Graph - Information about relationships between two users is available to a third user who is not a party to this relationship. This information can be formalized (A is connected to B) or it can be intuitive – given enough time users develop intuitions about these relationships. In either way, relationships can be represented mathematically in a form of a graph.
Identity - Every user has a human-readable identifier. Users form ideas about each other that are associated with these identifiers. This creates identity. Every social media platform is an identity system.
Content - Users can create and share content.
Take one of these components away and it is no longer a social media platform. It turns out that playing around with 2-set configurations is a useful tool. It may help identify potential opportunities still left in the market.
Content & Identity
The obvious idea that comes to mind are instant messengers. This is a big category, but it has already been discovered and is heavily competed over.
Graph & Identity
Google Scholar is an example of this. One can create a profile and there is a graph of relationships. The graph is derived primarily from citations and co-authorships. Users do not create content on the platform.
This seems to me as the most interesting category right now. I was surprised that I could not think of more examples. I am sure it is not going to last long. There seems to be a pressure towards some level of fragmentation of social media platforms. The more fragmentation, the more need for aggregators.
For example, there is a large number of Reddit-like projects (e.g. Hacker News) and recently a number of big subreddits have split off from the platform (most notably, The_Donald).
Graph & Content
The best example I can think of is ETHmail. Users can send messages to each other (content) and wallets are connected to each other through transactions (relationships). I can imagine more ideas like this popping up.
For example, there could be a blogging platform without usernames, but with wallet addresses. One could publish anonymously and still receive tips.
This is a fresh concept. I published this half-baked version on Substack to get feedback. Can you think of some other examples? Is there something that does not hold together in this model? Can you think of a better name? Please let me know in the comments. I’ll credit you in the final version if you provide helpful input.