A meme that sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The New York Times is auctioning free columns for over $ 558,000. Twitter founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey is selling the first tweetable item for nearly $ 3 million.
Last year, “NFT” blossomed from an ambiguous acronym into a family term. Abbreviation for “Non-Fungible Token”, you can get unique digital collections such as Metaverse avatars and clothes needed for pixel art. The most popular platform for buying and selling NFTs is OpenSea, which acts like eBay on digital assets.
Talking to Anne Fauvre-Willis is like taking a short-term intensive course at an NFT. It’s both technology and the whimsical and nerdy culture it creates. She is responsible for OpenSea’s special projects and symbolizes the community surrounding NFTs. Often, with the help of memes, we are trading some of the most popular collections while discussing the technology on Twitter.
But she says NFTs are more than just talking about digital products. A colorful and passionate community trades NFTs. Or the baseball card collecting community has its own slang and social norms. NFTs have also become an accessible way for people to take advantage of blockchain technology. This is a decentralized ledger that gives NFT authors more control over how their artwork is owned, used, and traded in the market.
“I was really interested in NFTs,” says Fauvre-Willis. Because it was “not just about making money”.
“At first I was skeptical. I remember hearing the first podcast on my way to the Moscone Center to get the vaccine for NFTs in March or April. This is a bit ridiculous. I’m not sure about this, but at least I need to investigate. Then I started messing around with OpenSea and started reading about what people are doing with Discord, an app-based messaging platform. I also noticed that I spend a lot of time pondering it. “
The process (someone learns some of the blockchain technology, starts talking to others in online spaces such as Discord and Twitter, and eventually spends a lot of time thinking about technology) is in the blockchain community. Colloquially called “going down the rabbit hole”. Technology as a whole is still quite new, and much of the innovation comes from intense debate among online enthusiasts.
This process facilitates the formation of communities. Each of the communities is based on a shared ideology, aesthetic taste, and even a sense of humor. Some people are interested in trading fine arts like beautiful portraits as NFTs. Some people make stupid images geeky, like pixelated avatars called “CryptoPunks”. Purchasing some NFTs gives buyers admission to membership clubs, much like the cartoon ape collection people buy to get admission to the “Boring Ape Yacht Club”. In fact, Bored Apes and CryptoPunks are some of the most popular NFTs in OpenSea.
As a technician who spends a lot of time on online forums like Twitter, Fauvre-Willis first bought an NFT that could be used as a Twitter avatar called “Guttercat.” These types of NFTs are called “PFP”, which stands for “profile photo”. A gutter cat that is especially popular among people embedded in blockchain spaces is a cartoon human-like cat with tattoos and piercings. According to their creators, these cartoon characters come from “a crime-stricken, unconventional city center.”
“I had an American flag bandana, and I bought it over the weekend of July 4, so I felt it was particularly relevant,” says Fauvre-Willis. “I like PFP because, as an active Twitter user, PFP was the first time I introduced myself to this area. It was something I could wrap my head around.”
Many people think that NFTs are about collecting art, but this is not always the case. Of course, the definition of “art” is broadly disputed, but it’s not uncommon for people in communities like Fauvre-Willis to invest in goofy NFTs that weren’t previously considered “art.” At the base level, NFTs are just strings of code that represent ownership of unique digital assets. Fauvre-Willis is excited not only for cartoon profile pictures, but also for other potential theoretical uses of future NFTs...
“For example, you can have your own NFT, an NFT. For example, you can own your passport information, driver’s license, all of which as a single key to your digital wallet,” she suggests. .. “Basically, (NFT) is really just a unique key. It’s like that in the real world, considering how to carry your house key.”
NFTs are built on distributed blockchain technology, so there are all these potential use cases. “Decentralized” refers to the way a blockchain organization is collectively owned and operated by people who use the technology. In the blockchain, there should be no central intermediary that acts as a transaction broker.
This is also why NFTs are so exciting for so many creators. NFTs allow artists to determine the price and royalties they will receive when selling their work. With NFTs, artists do not have to pay or obey the rules of auction houses, galleries, streaming services, or other intermediaries.
When Fauvre-Willis hypothesizes potential use cases, she’s what blockchain people often jokingly call “for technology.” And when she started talking about potential use cases, it wondered to me: why is she even working at OpenSea? In the view of some blockchain fanatics, the platform defeats the NFT’s overall point of being able to buy and sell things without disturbing the centralized market.
However, according to Fauvre-Willis, centralization should not be seen as a drawback of OpenSea. Instead, it allows the company to address the needs of the people who use it. OpenSea is centralized so you can organize your traditional customer service team to remove offensive content. She says it’s more important to serve users than the decentralization debate. In fact, she argues that it needs to be user-centric to build these new technologies in a less disruptive way than the companies that have been ahead for the past 30 years. OpenSea is widely regarded as the easiest platform for buying NFTs.
“If you’re building a distributed protocol, your goals are often more technically driven and you may forget about your users. For me, that wasn’t that important. Centralized. Whether you have it or not, you need to use OpenSea. What really attracted me about OpenSea is that it has a very strong focus on what you want to offer to your users, “she explains.
“I think much of what we’ve seen (in internet technology) is growing at a rate that companies haven’t always thought about, and it’s a system we don’t really like. I have the opportunity to think with a little more foresight. “