Right, sorry. “Non-fungible” more or less means that it’s unique and can’t be replaced with something else. For example, a bitcoin is fungible — trade one for another bitcoin, and you’ll have exactly the same thing. A one-of-a-kind trading card, however, is non-fungible. If you traded it for a different card, you’d have something completely different. You gave up a Squirtle, and got a 1909 T206 Honus Wagner, whichStadiumTalkcalls “the Mona Lisa of baseball cards.” (I’ll take their word for it.)
How do NFTs work?
At a very high level, most NFTs are part of the Ethereum blockchain. Ethereum is a cryptocurrency, like bitcoin or dogecoin, but its blockchain also supports these NFTs, which store extra information that makes them work differently from, say, an ETH coin. It is worth noting that other blockchains can implement their own versions of NFTs. (Some already have.)
What’s worth picking up at the NFT supermarket?
NFTs can really be anything digital (such as drawings, music, your brain downloaded and turned into an AI), but a lot of the current excitement is around using the tech to sell digital art.
Sorry, I was busy right-clicking on that Beeple video and downloading the same file the person paid millions of dollars for.
Wow, rude. But yeah, that’s where itgets a bit awkward. You can copy a digital file as many times as you want, including the art that’s included with an NFT.
But NFTs are designed to give you something that can’t be copied: ownership of the work (though the artist can still retain the copyright and reproduction rights, just like with physical artwork). To put it in terms of physical art collecting: anyone can buy a Monet print. But only one person can own the original.
No shade to Beeple, but the video isn’t really a Monet.
Of course, the communal activities depend on the community. For Pudgy Penguin or Bored Ape owners, it seems to involvevibing and sharing memes on Discord, or complimenting each other on their Pudgy Penguin Twitter avatars.
What’s the point of NFTs?
That really depends on whether you’re an artist or a buyer.
I’m an artist.
First off: I’m proud of you. Way to go. You might be interested in NFTs because it gives you a way to sell work that there otherwise might not be much of a market for. If you come up with a really cool digital sticker idea, what are you going to do? Sell it on the iMessage App Store? No way.
Also, NFTs have a feature that you can enable that will pay you a percentage every timethe NFT is sold or changes hands, making sure that if your work gets super popular and balloons in value, you’ll see some of that benefit.
I’m a buyer.
One of the obvious benefits of buying art is it lets you financially support artists you like, and that’s true with NFTs (which are way trendier than, like, Telegram stickers). Buying an NFT also usually gets you some basic usage rights, like being able to post the image online or set it as your profile picture. Plus, of course, there are bragging rights that you own the art, with a blockchain entry to back it up.
No, I meant I’m acollector.
Ah, okay, yes. NFTs can worklike any other speculative asset, where you buy it and hope that the value of it goes up one day, so you can sell it for a profit. I feel kind of dirty for talking about that, though.
So every NFT is unique?
In the boring, technical sense that every NFT is a unique token on the blockchain. But while it could be like a van Gogh, where there’s only one definitive actual version, it could also be like a trading card, where there’s 50 or hundreds of numbered copies of the same artwork.
Who would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for what basically amounts to a trading card?
Well, that’s part of what makes NFTs so messy. Some people treat them like they’re the future of fine art collecting (read: as a playground for the mega-rich), and some people treat them like Pokémon cards (where they’re accessible to normal people but also a playground for the mega-rich). Speaking of Pokémon cards, Logan Paul just sold some NFTs relating to a million-dollar box of the—
Please stop. I hate where this is going.
Yeah, he sold NFT video clips, which are just clips from a video you can watch on YouTube anytime you want,for up to $20,000. He also sold NFTs of a Logan Paul Pokémon card.
It would be hilarious if Logan Paul decided to sell 50 more NFTs of the exact same video.
Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda (who also sold some NFTs that included a song)actually talked about that. It’s totally a thing someone could do if they were, in his words, “an opportunist crooked jerk.” I’m not saying that Logan Paul is that, just that you should be careful who you buy from.
Are NFTs mainstream now?
It depends on what you mean. If you’re asking if, say, my mom owns one, the answer is no.
But we have seen big brands and celebrities likeMarvelandWayne Gretzkylaunch their own NFTs, which seem to be aimed at more traditional collectors, rather than crypto-enthusiasts. While I don’t think I’d call NFTs “mainstream” in the way that smartphones are mainstream, orStar Warsis mainstream, they do seem to have, at least to some extent, shown some staying power even outside of the cryptosphere.
But what do The Youth think of them?
Ah yes, excellent question. We here atThe Vergehave an interest inwhat the next generation is doing, and it certainly does seem like some of them have been experimenting with NFTs. An 18 year-old who goes by the name FEWOCiOUS says that his NFT drops havenetted over $17 million— though obviously most haven’t had the same success.The New York Timestalked to a few teensin the NFC space, and some said they used NFTs as a way to get used to working on a project with a team, or to just earn some spending money.
Can I buy this article as an NFT?
No, but technically anything digital could be sold as an NFT (including articles fromQuartzandTheNew York Times, provided you have anywhere from $1,800 to $560,000). deadmau5 has sold digital animated stickers. William Shatner has soldShatner-themed trading cards(one of which was apparently an X-ray of his teeth).
Gross. Actually, could I buy someone’s teeth as an NFT?
Same. But in my opinion, the kittens show that one of the most interesting aspects of NFTs (for those of us not looking to create a digital dragon’s lair of art) is how they can be used in games. There arealready gamesthat let you have NFTs as items. One even sells virtual plots of land as NFTs. There could be opportunities for players to buy a unique in-game gun or helmet or whatever as an NFT, which would be a flex that most people could actually appreciate.
That depends. Part of the allure of blockchain is that it stores a record of each time a transaction takes place, making it harder to steal and flip than, say, a painting hanging in a museum. That said,cryptocurrencies have been stolen before, so it really would depend on how the NFT is being stored and how much work a potential victim would be willing to put in to get their stuff back.
Note: Please don’t steal.
Should I be worried about digital art being around in 500 years?
Can I build an underground art cave / bunker to store my NFTs?
Well, like cryptocurrencies, NFTs are stored in digital wallets (though it is worth noting that the wallet does specifically have to be NFT-compatible). You could always put the wallet on a computer in an underground bunker, though.
What if I wanted to watch a TV show that’s somehow related to NFTs?
Believe it or not, you have options! Steve Aokiis working on a showbased on a character froma previous NFT drop, calledDominion X. Theshow’s sitesays that it’ll be an episodic series launched on the blockchain (the first short video ison OpenSea), and there are hundreds of NFTs already associated with the show.
There’s alsoa show calledStoner Cats(yes, it’s about cats that get high, and yes it stars Mila Kunis, Chris Rock, and Jane Fonda), which uses NFTs as a sort of ticket system. Currently, there’s only one episode available, but aStoner CatNFT (which, of course, is called a TOKEn) is required to watch it.