That’s pretty nifty shit

Beeple

OK, lets start at the beginning…

One of the great advantages of digital content is that it can be duplicated infinitely without any loss of fidelity (with apologies for the use of the word digital). This can turn into a disadvantage if you’re a creator who wants to be able to control how your work is distributed, or how much you can charge for it. Digital distribution has changed music, TV and film forever. Publishers, record labels and specialist shops are disintermediated as platforms like Amazon and Soundcloud push empowered creators straight to their audience

So far, so familiar. Where do NFTs or ‘nifties’ come in?

Non Fungible Tokens are smart contracts certified on the Ethereum blockchain, that record ownership and creative rights for digital content.

What about copies?

If someone has a copy of your NFT, they have a jpg downloaded from image search while the Real Thing hangs in your cryptowallet. There will only be 1 (or 10, or however many have been programmed) nifties, which can be bought and sold on platforms like Nifty Gateway, Makers Place and SuperRare. In fact, so the argument goes, the more people like the nifty, and the more copies are made, the more valuable the Fundamental Acquired Real Thing will become. Online distribution of Mona Lisa images makes the original painting more valuable rather than less.

But you can’t print it out?

My GF immediately asked why someone would want digital art if they couldn’t “print it out”. It turns out this reaction is so common that there’s an entire page dedicated to 8 reasons it’s stupid, well at least according to nifty salespeople. They say you can hang it on the wall, but why would you when you spend more time looking at your screen, and NFTs have better liquidity the traditional art, and and and, if that doesn’t convince, then *ignores*.

Why are people excited?

Evangelists think of nifties as a Schelling Point to get “lots of different people — developers, artists, merchants, influencers, whoever — to a common gathering place”, and they say, “that, in and of itself, is very cool.” Others, more grandiose, think nifties can “invert how we think about creating and capturing value on the internet, and provides the foundation for a sovereign internet owned by everyone.” This sounds really great if you’re disenchanted by this age of surveillance capitalism AND if you want to accelerate to its inevitable apocalypse. Of course it also sounds really great that creators can be protected and rewarded for their creativity.

Slimesunday — The Last Stand of the Nation State

Loathing

A minute later, though, and the backlash forms in my gut and I can’t help but loathe* the nifty “movement”.

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