June 18, 2021

TechTalk: NFTs and Why We Want to Talk About Them


Father’s Day is just around the corner. What do you get the Dad who has everything? Another tie? Golf club covers that look like gophers? A power tool that might do something but probably not as much as one would hope?

How about a million dollar tweet? Or the original Covid Alien CryptoPunk? Or maybe he’s into early memes and would go crazy for the Original Nyan Cat.

That power tool is looking pretty good I bet.

What the Heck are We Talking About?

We’re talking about Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). As with many internet things, they’ve actually been around for a while, but the media is currently taking notice because NFTs are flashy and suddenly have real (outrageous) money attached.

NFTs are related to blockchain, which is related to cryptocurrency, which is related to Bitcoin, which is also having a spotlight moment thanks to Elon Musk. The media’s bite sized attention span is already moving on from that story, but every time some crazy rich person pays an exorbitant amount of cash for something of objectively little value, NFTs pop up like whack a mole.

The current obsession with NFTs is due to the rise of digital art forms, and artists seeking ways to break into the conventional (insane) art collector’s market. Before the advent of NFTs, protecting the value of digital art was impossible, as there was no widely accepted way to ensure the piece you were buying was the original, and not one of a million possible digital copies.

With no scarcity, there is no value. NFTs stamp a single digital file with an unbreakable guarantee that this is certified as the original piece by the artists, and cannot be duplicated or exchanged for a digital “forgery”.

Why the Heck are We Talking About It?

The media is talking about it because the 24 hour news cycle is starved for content and there’s a lot of flash surrounding anything crypto. From the meteoric rise and inevitable crash of Bitcoin (repeatedly), to the unreal values attached to art NFTs, to the stunning growth of NFTs that people think should have value, there’s a lot for journalists to lunch out on.

We’re talking about it because the underlying technology remains relatively misunderstood, and it has potential, real, and complicated value.

I’ve studied blockchain technology a bit, as has Jared, and we’ve written about it in the past here and here. This is the same jazz as NFTs, and it’s another application for a digital process with real value.

This open ledger system is about protecting information, keeping it transparent, and limiting what individuals, companies, and governments can do to control it.
For the digital world, creating an unbreakable transaction chain that cannot be deleted, duplicated or forged has a wide range of possibilities that don’t have the immediate brain candy interest of Jack Dorsey’s FIRST TWEET covered by the mass media.

Those who understand the technology and how it works, are in the best position to see how it can be applied to create, store, and spread REAL value.

So we keep talking about it because there’s something here that will outlast every bubble of outrageous hype that causes blockchain to explode into the zeitgeist. For now, the media is mostly chasing the tail of blockchain. To get a real grasp, you need to watch the head.

Stay tuned….

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