Lens, after more than a year

I was planning to write this a month before as such parts of this article here will be a bit outdated, but still, if you have time and read it entirely, I'll piece together some newer aspects too.

If you have any contact with the web3-space you have likely heard about Lens. It is yet another attempt at creating decentralized social media. For me, it has managed to strike some intriguing achievements.

I made an article about web3 social platform ambitions a while back that was more general, but in this article, at least 60% of the focus will be on Lens.

So right now probably, Lens is by a bit the most widely known platform, but that doesn't say much because web3 social platform usage is still minuscule.

So let's begin with what is notable about Lens, that is simple, the vision that social media should be open to all, now you may laugh because getting a handle/profile is not extremely easy right now, but at least the vision is that in the future anyone can get a handle without many requirements.

This vision is essential because, without such a feature, you don't run a social media network you're running a social club, terms like "closed" social media are an insult there's no reason to keep today a platform that wants to be a social media closed off unless you either want to create FOMO or some other kind of incentive that is not at all aligned with the idea of social media, some will point that other started like that also in the past. But we're not in the era of a nascent technology for social media and perhaps the only reasonable and justifiable motive in order to not be overwhelmed is when you have an undersized team, but that's for lack of dev power, not at all because you build some kind of new innovation.

Now Lens has a few problems first even though contracts are open, practically Lens exists mainly via the Lens team there are no numerous communities out there to support Lens, and everything orbits around the Lens team.

The dispatcher concept is also something that creates high centralization as most lens apps will use that lens dispatcher by being whitelisted creating a single point of failure. And is even worse because is not only a single point of failure but is a point on which many apps depend to function, and so is a single point with high external dependencies.

This whitelist-to-proxy interaction with the contract is pretty much an abomination, is not enough that nobody deploys immutable smart contracts these days, but with the whitelist, such actions create immense fragmentation, where a lot of features that are core to the protocol don't rely on the same infrastructure.

My personal opinion is that sellable profiles are not a good fit for any social media platform, but maybe having some types of resources sellable like posts is tolerable.

Maybe approximately a month ago, there were some rumors that Lens will have the contracts optimized, to reduce gas consumption, so it can scale. Now that is pretty laughable not because contracts could not have been optimized, but because you can't really scale even on Polygon(as it is now) while having most of the actions be transactions, every transaction will cost a few cents and you don't even know if those few cents will be a lot more cents in the future(especially that when I first start using polygon TXs were at least 12 times cheaper). But not even taking into consideration these operation costs, a sizable social network like that will simply be very slow, and everything will get congested if usage would match something similar to a popular web2 platform.

The solution is obvious: Do your own network that supports specialized optimization such as the cost and speed can be drastically improved. Now at the moment both, for example, Farcaster and Lens are trending in that direction but a lot of time has been wasted, I mean you didn't need a "stable" genius to reveal this nugget of truth.

So that brings me to the new architecture of Lens(Momoka), which you could say is currently less relatable to blockchain technology. Is more of a way for storing things on a decentralized network specifically Arweave.

For posts and comments that will inevitably disable some features like selling posts, collecting, and generally things that were visible on-chain.

What I think will happen in order to enable those back is that a secondary infrastructure for selling will be created that won't be linked directly to the content infrastructure.

Now there's an issue because for example if you would build today a simple indexer for Lens, you would just hook up to the lens contract and decode every tx that comes to that contract to get the data and interpret it into some kind of data structure to be stored in some database.

But now obviously the new type of content will never reach the chain, so you'll be needing two indexers: one for Polygon and one node that will track tx to Arweave.

It does not make much sense to keep the old infrastructure as you'll increase fragmentation so the expected outcome is that it will disappear fast.

With the new infrastructure, the costs should be far less, you'll not match public cloud infrastructure, but still decreasing factors should be in the hundreds if not thousands range.

Now the odd thing is that still Lens has a lot of other core features such as the like/notification features that are completely centralized, IMO that's very bad, it's better to find a way to make that part of the protocol or don't have them at all.

The fact is that in order for Lens to become a proper protocol this API needs to slowly but surely go away. Because right now it plays a very central role, it acts pretty much like any web2 social media authority and I can't see how Lens can have a decent amount of decentralization without axing the API.

Guess this is mostly in a nutshell, you may disagree but at least if you got to this point, I am sure you found some points intriguing. If that's correct you might also want to free collect this post.

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