Buy This NFT Column on the Blockchain!

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Buy This NFT Column on the Blockchain!

Some of the NFT buzz is shallow hype, no doubt. The cryptocurrency world is full of scammers and get-rich-quick hustlers whose projects often end in failure. (Remember the initial coin offering boom?) And critics point out that NFTs and other cryptocurrency-related projects require enormous amounts of energy and computing power, making them a growing environmental hazard. There are also legitimate questions about what, exactly, NFT buyers are getting for their money, and whether these tokens will turn into broken links if the marketplaces and hosting services that store the underlying files disappear.

But there’s something real here that is worth taking seriously. For decades, artists, musicians and other creators have struggled with the fact that, on the internet, making copies of any digital artifact is trivially easy. Scarcity — the quality that gives offline art its value — was hard to replicate online, because anyone who downloaded a file could copy and paste it an infinite number of times, with no loss in quality.

Blockchain technology changed that by making it possible to stamp digital goods with a cryptographic marker of authenticity and keep a permanent record of its ownership. You can copy the file contained in an NFT all you want, but you can’t fake the digital signature behind it, which gives collectors of rare digital goods some peace of mind. And NFT fans think the technology could be used to keep track of all kinds of goods in the future — titles to houses and cars, business contracts and wills.

Creators can even attach a royalty agreement to their NFTs, entitling them to a cut of the profits every time their assets are resold. (I tried to make this NFT royalty-free, but wasn’t able to change Foundation’s built-in 10 percent royalty on secondary sales, so I’ll be donating any future royalties to the Neediest Cases Fund as well.)

It’s easy to be skeptical of NFTs. But I’m cautiously optimistic about them, for the simple reason that they represent a new way for creative people to eke out a living on the internet.

For years, traditional media companies have resisted new, internet-based distribution strategies because they viewed them — often correctly — as a threat to their business models. Most things on the internet were free, and things that weren’t free could be easily pirated or copied. If you wanted to get paid for your creations, your best options were to create a paywall, hire an army of lawyers to enforce your copyright or put yourself at the mercy of a licensing service or a huge social media network, which might share some of its advertising revenue with you, if you were lucky or exceptionally good.

Digital subscriptions are one way for creators to take back control of their own destinies. NFTs could be another. By making it possible for artists and musicians — and, yes, journalists — to turn individual works into one-of-a-kind digital collectible items, NFTs could erode the economic dominance of social media middlemen and give more power back to the people who are producing creative and interesting things.

In any event, it’s worth a try. So please, check out my NFT auction at foundation.app/kevinroose, and let the bidding begin.

Source: New York Times

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