Onchain Principle: Infra not Internet.

Onchain is infrastructure, not a separate internet.

At Bunches, we have a few principles that are foundational to how we think about bringing the chain to consumers. Whether we're thinking about decentralizing moderation or designing our utility token, these principles are our system of thinking that help us keep first things first.

Last week, I covered the first of these principles, grow the pie. In that post, I write about our thinking around our target demographic: users who aren't yet onchain. We're focused on bringing net new users to the chain, and in that article I discuss some of our thinking around how to do that.

In continuing the series, I'd like to cover the next principle that talks about how we think about the chain itself. It's pretty simple, and may seem obvious: infra not internet.

New Infra not New Internet.

The chain is infrastructure.

Rhetoric can get insane.

We all do it from time to time.

You're trying to make a point, and so you exaggerate it a touch. A smidgen. Just a little bit.

But before you know it, what started as a pebble of truth has rolled down a hill of lies, and is now a minivan-sized boulder barreling towards a worldview.

And that, friends, is how the pebble of "the blockchain is a shared immutable database" becomes the boulder of "the blockchain is the new internet and may end up replacing the world wide web as we know it".

The chain is a tool, not the goal.

The chain enables extraordinary new experiences like verifiable ownership, secure and decentralized coordination, and the financialization of all kinds of assets.

But it's a tool, not the trophy. It's a means to an end.

Let's unwrap the truth: the blockchain is new infrastructure for a new internet.

Infrastructure Shouldn't Be Seen

Those of us building in consumer often remember this when faced with the friction-filled experiences of other onchain apps.

I, for one, get itchy.

If the new internet is comprised entirely of onchain experiences like today's dapps, I'm sure that a general audience will stick with the old.

Sure, the internet has some friction already: infinite logins (spread across providers like Google, Apple, Facebook, and phone number), two-factor authentication, captchas...

...but it doesn't compare to the agony of gas fees.

Or a WalletConnect failure.

Or needing to switch chains.

Or waiting 10 seconds for an onchain action to complete.

Or clicking every sign message like it's an onslaught of GDPR banners.

This isn't the new internet. This is new infrastructure posing as a consumer experience.

Let's not even talk about bridging, shall we?

To be fair, the world wide web went through this period as well.

Remember the AOL dialtone?

Or telnetting into a MUD server to play a game?

Or the pain of watching video online because of lag & latency?

But the consumer experience progressed, and this pain introduced by infrastructure was able to be abstracted away into the internet we know today.

The handshake represented by AOL's dialtone still exists. Just beneath the surface.

Connecting into a server to play a game still exists, but you don't have to issue the command yourself. It's done for you, on your behalf.

And video is an integral part of the internet today, whether talking Hulu or Youtube, TikTok or Netflix, Twitch or Nebula.

All due to improved infrastructure. Networking hardware is now everywhere, hidden. Operating systems became network aware at layers beneath apps and the desktop. And the cloud infrastructure of providers like AWS, Azure, and GCP help abstract some of the pain away of running datacenters in closets.


But here's the funny thing about infrastructure: no one cares except builders.

Consumers don't care if you're deployed on AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft's Azure, or a datacenter that you own and run.

They don't care on which chain your smart contracts are deployed.

They don't care about the protocol you're using to connect a wallet.

Consumers only care about frictionless experiences that this infrastructure enables.

With one exception.

The only time that the cloud gets mentioned or discussed by general users is in a negative case.

Seem familiar?

Similarly, Farcaster recently went bonkers discussing Optimism as a bottleneck. The chain is infrastructure that enables consumer experiences.

Infrastructure should be out of the way as much as possible. It shouldn't be famous.

When infrastructure is in your face, including the chain, it's a sure sign that innovation can be had.

Consumer in the front, crypto in the back.

So what does this mean for how we as builders should think? Mullet apps!

Familiar Web 2 experiences to the consumer, with the chain under the hood powering new ownership, coordination, and financialization experiences.

Infrastructure shouldn't be seen, and we're the ones who have to hide it.

As an example of this philosophy, frames are a really good step forward of what's possible in the space. By abstracting the wallet and connection away, great strides are being made in the realm of new experiences that the chain enables.

And frames are just the tip of the iceberg.

At Bunches, our wallet generation happens under the hood as well.

And I can't wait to show you what we're working on next. 😏

But here's a sneak peek at an onchain action.

I believe in the chain.

I believe in builders.

We just have to realize that the chain is infra not internet.

Want to learn more, or just chat about this? Ping me! I primarily hang out on Farcaster these days, so feel free to send me a reply (thinking in public is great!) or shoot me a direct cast there.

Otherwise, thanks for reading! πŸ™

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