Yes I always get this line of counterargument when I say these things, and of course, it must be partly true - one of the main two factors here (let's say "network effect" and "proof of work") doesn't work without the other.
All those feedbacks and recurrences add up to quite a muddle, I think. You got peanut butter in my chocolate, etc.
I keep intending to play around with a differential equations model so that at least it could be talked about concretely and coherently, but have not got around to it. It's probably the best (only?) way to push harder into the distinctions you and I are proposing. I know there are other models, e.g., valuation models, that purport to do this, but I last ran into them years ago and can't remember what they are to see if there's inspiration there.
Anyway, I appreciate your comments. I'll keep noodling on them.