But there’s something else going on, and it’s surprisingly sweet. While some buyers are interested in these NFTs only as speculative assets, others have more virtuous intentions. Los Angeles-based startup founder Trevor McFedries has been buying tweets shortly after the launch of Valuables. He liked how it showed how anything anyone does on the internet can be art, and that even a tweet can be considered worthy creative work. Recently, he picked one of his group of friends’ favorite tweets – a ranking of pasta shapes – and bought it for 3 Ether, or $ 1,920. “People were like, why the hell would you spend $ 1,900 on a tweet?” McFedries said. “But it has value to me. I want to own it.
For Katie Geminder, one of the co-founders of Cent, this type of purchase is exactly what the Valuables platform was designed to help. A veteran of several major social platforms – she was an early employee of Facebook – Geminder is now a strong advocate for helping creators capitalize on the social web. “We started an experiment, really,” she says. “Our mission is to help creators earn creative income.” Geminder and her colleagues believed that people who liked certain tweets or Twitter accounts enough would be willing to pay for the thrill of seeing their favorite poster accept their digital memorabilia offer. They bet on the idea that enough people would find value in previously free content. As their user base has swelled over the past few weeks, they see that this assumption has turned out to be correct.
While the Valuables platform is currently limited to creating tweets as NFT, this is one of the clearest examples of how the NFT market is growing on the social web. While some people buy tweets as speculative assets, other early-stage Valuables users are using the platform as a new way to channel their fandom and enthusiasm. Buying an NFT may be an alternate way to support creators, a blockchain-powered twist on Patreon or Tipeee. This is an attractive development for anyone creating content for the social web, as it offers the opportunity to get paid for what might otherwise be given away for free. (An important note: the environmental impact of NFTs is already a pressing concern for many creators, as blockchain power consumption can reach truly horrific levels.)
And there will be plenty of opportunities to question the ethics of what to turn into an NFT, as any individual piece of content can potentially exist in one, from 60-second videos to 10,000-word blog posts. . People are already testing the waters by symbolizing different forms of writing and posting. One of Vine’s first videos has already been sold on an NFT marketplace called Foundation for 8.77 ETH (over $ 16,000). Software engineer and writer John Palmer funded an essay he hadn’t even written yet by hitting it like an NFT on a protocol called Zora. It was very successful, raising 9.9 ETH (over $ 18,000) from 63 backers. Much like Geminder, Palmer sees great value in experimenting with NFTs as a new funding model for creative work. “It offers a way to get paid for one-time work that isn’t part of a subscription or newsletter. It offers a way to monetize work which remains a public good, without a payment wall, ”he said. wrote in an explanation of the project. He published the essay on Mirror, a platform specially designed for writers to sell their projects as NFT. (Wong Joon Ian, a former journalist now working in crypto, described Mirror to me as “a mashup between Medium, Patreon, and Kickstarter” – the best explanation I’ve heard.) Instead of starting a newsletter or a traditional blog, Crypto-savvy writers like Palmer (especially those whose audiences are familiar with blockchain) can chart a new path to making money from their writing.
After I sold my NFT tweet, a flurry of writer buddies texted me impatiently, asking me how to do it. Soon after, several WIRED editors sent me a message – much less rushed – because we hadn’t had a conversation about the real implications of accepting an offer like this. As long as I am on the staff of WIRED, I must ask permission before taking paid freelance assignments at other outlets. Do I have to ask permission to sell an NFT? Was what I was selling essentially a bit of digital performance art, signing my name on a token, rather than the writing itself? It was more like selling an autograph than my words, after all – did we have a company policy on digital autographs? These were new questions, because it was a new way for a writer to make money. I called Addison Cameron-Huff, a blockchain lawyer, to hear her opinion. “If it’s not your job at WIRED to make art, and you’re a writer, and your job is to write – if you want to sell art on the side, I don’t think they’ll would stop, ”he said. . “You sell the sales process.” Yet given that I wasn’t sure why my bidder bought my tweet – they didn’t respond when I asked them – it wasn’t clear if they were buying it because they loved me or just because I’m a WIRED reporter. The whole situation was thorny. And if selling chunks of digital content as NFTs spread, I suspect there will be a lot of conversations between writers, artists, and the media about the limits of independent digital identity and work identity. (I promised my editors that I would not take any more NFT auctions until we understood the rules, just to be sure.)
Other outlets are making their way through this strange new world as well. The Associated Press has already gone ahead and created its own first NFT, although this is a digital work of art rather than a copy of an item. Still, it probably won’t be long before you see the items themselves available as NFT – maybe even this one.
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