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Build Ecosystems 🏞, Not Platforms 🏭
JamBlog by Mychal Culpepper, Founder at Pinview
Every living organism belongs to a native ecosystem. These ecosystems contain all the necessary elements for that organism to complete it’s lifecycle. Factors like the moisture saturation of the soil, altitude above sea level and abundance of food sources all play a part in shaping the lifespan of the organism. So I think it’s a pretty easy assertion to make that ecosystems engender the type of organisms that live there and not the other way around. In their base form, ecosystems are just cycle replicators, so the greater alignment between a cycle and an ecosystem, the greater volume of reps can occur. In contrast, platforms are designed a one way vectorized system. By nature they are meant to extract value from those who participate in them. Ways to identify a platform are generally with some type of fee (such as a percentage per transaction), or a lengthy ToS detailing how all content created on the platform belongs to X company in perpetuity. This doesn’t necessarily mean that platforms are bad, as they do create immense value and should participate in the value capture event; however often times they intrude as inorganic transplants that take more than they return. For this simple fact, it is better to create ecosystems rather than platforms, engender diverse and refined lifecycles.
Tenets of An Ecosystem
Self-Sustaining — the value created is not reliant upon non-diegetic factors. Apple’s App Store does not need the Google Play Store in order to be a hub of software development. Apple’s personal IDE (Xcode), native frameworks (SwiftUI. UIKit), programming language (Swift) and proprietary marketplace (App Store) provide an end to end solution for all inhabitants within the Apple ecosystem
Fundamental — The Amazon Rain Forest accounts for the most biodiversity on the planet. The simple explanation for this is because the immense amount of fresh water precipitation it receives. Similarly, what you build should be fundamental to the experience you offer your end user. Messaging is a fundamental part of communication on the internet, which is why nearly every product has it as a core or tangential feature. Often times the most basic services are the ones that have the greatest efficacy for your users.
Immersive — Ecosystems should be palpable. Taken the experience when watching Netflix. The matte black background against the red cinematic letters gives a derived version of the movie going experience we’ve all grown so accustomed to. It is this suspension of belief that allows Netflix to subsume such large amounts of our time. Similarly, we should strive to build products that subduct our members into a new reality. This can be done through presentation, world-building & storytelling. Regardless, there must be a certain encompassing feel to using the product that causes a mental shift when the member users the service.
Flow — All elements in the ecosystem should coordinate efficiently and flow seamlessly. This is not merely a UI/UX sentiment, but in a larger sense the togetherness that ties all organisms together within the ecosystem. With the prominence of Web3 often times a coin is used to tie together network incentives and promote network growth. As networks scale, the value of the being a part of that network should scale congruently. This makes sense as the “space” in the network increases to make room for new participants and thus resources should increase to increase capacity. Misalignment between network value & token value will cause the network to be incompatible with the capacity it is designed for at the time.
There’s nothing wrong with starting as platform, as honestly we all have to start somewhere. However, we should strive to transform into an ecosystem. By meticulous world building and careful consideration about who we want to invite into our world and at what time will allow us to build services that are biodiverse and promote sustainable growth forever.