✖️ Community as the most meaningful context for NFTs
And: Meta's Augmented Reality plans; Brian Eno on capitalism & the climate crisis; What music stems as NFTs can unlock; Streaming genres; Warner x POAP partnership
This piece was written for EQ Issue 2: Music NFTs. Read the full article here.
A recently filed lawsuit between a ‘Pepe The Frog’ NFT buyer and its creator underscores the fragility of contemporary NFT culture. The NFT buyer filed the US$500,000 lawsuit after the creator’s release of free identical NFTs, having believed that his version would be unique. While these types of cases illustrate the importance of transparency and clarity around rights and expectation, it also begs the question: what gives NFTs value?
We ascribe many things to NFTs. Set the artwork from an NFT as your profile picture and you might get asked: what NFT is that? That question is unlikely to be answered with a smart contract address and a TokenID. Instead, people tell the story of the collection, the creator, the art, and might link to an OpenSea entry where all of this is visible. Yet, in its most basic form, the NFT is simply the receipt. It’s proof of a smart contract interaction and subsequent transactions that may have occurred. There’s another way of looking at them, too.
NFTs are decentralized social media objects. A public blockchain as a database we can all write to, where transactions signify interactions between people, can be considered social media. A database operated by its network of participations adds an aspect of decentralization to guarantee security; an immutable source of truth. The receipts, NFTs, that sit in these databases are objects that are held by whoever controls the wallets they’re assigned to. The value the NFTs hold is based on whatever the social network ascribes to it.
Anyone can create an NFT and point its image metadata to the same URL as that of a famous NFT. It’s not right-click + save, but copy + paste + mint. The reason why the original NFT will hold more meaning and value is because of the social relation, the perceived authenticity. The problem is: most people won’t care about looking stuff up into databases to verify that relation. Tech organizations - like Twitter with its NFT profile pictures - are figuring out ways to bring this verification of authenticity to the foreground. Yet there is a way in which this authenticity can already be brought into a meaningful context immediately.
If the 2010s were the decade of mega-platforms, the 2020s are the decade of communities: a social layer of smaller context, shared purpose, and shared identity empowered by web3’s decentralized social media and the value protocols like cryptocurrencies that underpin it. Rooting NFTs in these communities doesn’t just signal authenticity or ‘being early’ (which is what has driven the value of CryptoPunks), it also lets NFT holders participate in the shared purpose of the community. NFTs’ sales & resales can kickback a percentage to a community treasury, which is governed by verified members of that community, verification being the result of whether they hold a certain token or NFT.
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🌱 ‘Capitalism didn’t understand community’: Brian Eno steps up the climate crisis battle (Greg Cochrane)
“The problem with the hypocrisy issue is that it turns the spotlight on you and says, ‘You’re the problem – you’ve got to solve the problem for yourself.’ As individuals, we aren’t really the problem, we’re in a system that is problematic.”
🧠 Mark Zuckerberg’s Augmented Reality (Alex Heath)
“The wristband uses differential electromyography, or EMG, to measure electrical pulses in the arm’s neurons, essentially creating the effect of a phantom limb the wearer can use to interact with the glasses. The result is that someone can essentially think to type or control a virtual interface, which Meta believes will aid in interacting with smart glasses that don’t have a touchscreen, mouse, or keyboard.”
🎫 Warner to ‘mint shared memories as NFTs’ in partnership with $10m-backed Web3 startup POAP (Murray Stassen)
“Dropping a POAP offers artists a fun way to celebrate a show that’s much more permanent than a ticket stub. It’s much harder to lose mementos when they’re minted to a blockchain – and once artists are ready to dive deep into the potential of Web3 technologies, POAPs let their fans share that journey.”
Isabel Gonzalez, POAP COO
✂️ StemsDAO: Music. Culture. Remixed (radniik)
“Tracking how stems are used allows us to apply an incentivization model to music communities that are already building on top of an artist's work for free, as evidenced by fan-made remixes and snippet culture. Adding incentives for both sides allows a micro economy to be stimulated between an artist and their community.”
🗂 Can a streaming platform create a niche music genre? (Kieran Press-Reynolds)
“The [Webcore] playlist follows others like phonk and hyperpop as the latest example of how Spotify is trying to conceptualize and market niche music scenes without fully recognizing the depth of the communities behind them. It’s also an example of the amount of influence the biggest streaming platform in the world has to inflict genre names that stick.”
Loving this ballroom-influenced tune from South African trio Phelimuncasi. Big dancefloor vibes. Can’t wait for the rest of the album to come out on Nyege Nyege Tapes on May 13.