Note: This article was originally started in June and was held in a draft form until it was completed and released now.
Adopters of new technology. Grabbing something that has a buzzword attached to it and running with it. It’s trendy with techies to jump into something shiny. There was even a course I had to take at my college to identify and understanding emerging technologies. Well I’ve actually dipped my toe into that water, and it wasn’t on purpose.
I’ve got the reputation for being a “technology whisperer” when it comes to computer issues. From family members to previous jobs, I had people approaching me about how to fix various IT issues. If I can get my hands on the device, I can usually “scare” it into working again. Most of this happens by poking around in the device until I find the correct settings or functions. However fixing them and understanding them didn’t mean that I was interested in being the first to get them. At first I was hesitant about getting wireless routers set up in my home because I was concerned about outside connections. Later as I saw the security options, I adopted the technology. I don’t need the latest OS or cell phone when the hype is the biggest because I know they will have some bugs that need to be worked out. I have no problems letting someone else be a guinea pig and getting burned while all the kinks are resolved. So when I heard about cryptocurrencies and NFTs, I thought “no thanks”.
Why was that? Well the first time I heard about NFTs was from my college aged art student. Apparently anyone can take a piece of art and turn it into an NFT without the artists permission. Something that really bothered the art community. For those of you who don’t know, NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token. Boiled down, an NFT item (mostly artwork, but it can be assigned to videos. music, in-game items and other things) has a blockchain code attached to it. This code cannot be duplicated (the non-fungible part) and the record of it’s ownership is contained within the blockchain. Allegedly this gives a value to the image in question by trying to make it rare. Yea, a piece of artwork that has a limited run number imprinted on it (such as number 30 of 100 prints) is something similar, but I tend to trust the individual artists who put these out since I can support them directly. Here is an example of a limited print run artwork.
To me, this has value. The artist made it, the artist signed it, the artist got money for it. I can enjoy it on my wall and it will still be there if a server goes down. I still own it if someone hacks the account the NFT is connected to. An NFT can’t be held in my hand. It’s a glorified graphic file which anyone can right click and save. I’ve noticed when someone tries to artificially inflate the value of something, and I tend to avoid it. While I’ve enjoyed collectable card games, I didn’t jump on them right away. When they first came out and I noticed that they had the word “collectable” attached to it, I held off. When a comic publisher releases 12 versions of the same issue with different covers, I just buy one because I want the story on the inside. The NFTs producers even tried to attach them to a brand name with limited success. So it was no surprise that no one was buying the Star Trek NFTs at the official Star Trek convention in April. When the Admiral Pack went on sale at Mission: Chicago, it had a list price of $250. Now you can get one on their website for $189 (at the time of this article’s publication) Yea that collectors item really took off. One of the more popular NFT themes, the bored apes, had a unit sell for $50,000 in 2021 only to be re-sold in 2022 for $115. Ouch. While that may have been a one-time anomaly, an article in Marketwatch stated that the bored apes had lost 60% of their value in a month earlier this year.
OK Carl, I get what you are saying, but how do you now own NFTs if this trend is going south?
Believe me, I was just as shocked as you are. I received an email from a vendor for an upcoming concert that I purchased tickets for. Basically it said, “Congratulations, we are giving you an NFT of your ticket (which can’t be used to get into the concert) for free.” I remember raising an eyebrow at this email. When I looked at the NFT website (which was legit from the ticket company), it showed two generic looking tickets attached to my account. The same looking thing. Perhaps if there had been a different image on each NFT ticket, it may have been interesting. But it was just a boring looking ticket. And since I had purchased tickets to a second concert later in the year, another pair of NFT “tickets” showed up in the account a few weeks later. Again with similar boring illustrations on it. “Trade them with your friends, give them as gifts or sell them off to collectors.” Big whoop.
I purchased the tickets to the two concerts because my wife and I wanted to enjoy an evening together watching an artist we liked. Had I been on the fence about purchasing the tickets; the cost, not the opportunity to get an NFT, would have been the deciding factor.
I’ve talked with other friends about this whole NFT fiasco. And I think I’ll end this rant with a comment that has stuck out ever since I heard it. “The way you’ll know if NFTs are really going to take off is if the porn industry gets involved with it.” The more I thought about it, the more I believed this person was right. The porn industry has always been early adopters of new technology that gets their product out to the masses while making them money. Magazines, cable TV, VHS tapes, pay-per-view, the internet, DVDs, Blu-rays, 4K High Def, streaming, etc. When holodecks become common place, I’m sure that the porn industry will be right behind NASA and PBS in adopting the medium. If you look closely there hasn’t been any movement by the porn industry into NFTs. There are plenty of bondage chains, but no blockchains. (Fade Out)