The Superpower of NFTs
Prompt: superpowers, superhero abstracts, vibrant colors, 2 variations. Made on Dream
As Kevin Kelly likes to say, “the internet is the world’s largest copy machine, and anything that touches it will be copied”
The only way that movie studios and music labels were able to survive the internet copy machine was with streaming, which provided an easy, affordable and legal way for consuming entertainment. Social media continues to feed the copy machine with the overused share button, and anything newsworthy will eventually become a meme.
The world wide web has created an internet of abundance, where content roams free, and even gated content finds its way out. The only way to combat piracy is to make content easier to access — subscription models are the new norm.
However, the advent of blockchain and the emergence of an internet token economy is about to rattle the inner-workings of the copy machine. The key to this change lies largely in blockchain’s ability to imbue value where it hasn’t existed before.
Enter the non-fungible token (NFT) that promises something that content creators, artists, musicians, and writers never had before on the web. The superpower of NFTs is the ability to create digital scarcity to digital content.
The logic is that while there may be thousands of copies of a given image, the only one that matters is the one registered as an entry on a public, immutable ledger. That ‘one’ version is considered the original; that ‘one’ version carries the value of ownership; therefore making it scarce.
what makes it interesting is that this model of scarcity ownership actually thrives on an internet of abundance. the more that something is copied, the more popular it becomes, the more value is accrued to the original. brilliant.
Does Scarcity Matter?
The question of course, is does scarcity even matter in a digital world of abundance? what is the value of owning something if you have access to it. why buy a song from a song artist if you can simply stream it.
In our physical world, ownership has always been tied to having physical access to something. In the past, I owned a vinyl record and that was my access to that music. Material stuff will always contain a limited amount which is easy to understand its scarcity. Digital stuff however, which is made up of bytes is easily replicable and doesn’t occupy any physical space.
It’s understandable then why there is a lot of skepticism that digital scarcity via NFTs is really just artificially manufactured.
The reality is that many people will continue to be just fine with subscription access and have no desire for ownership, and that makes sense in a digitally accessible world. But… content creators don’t need millions of fans to make a living, they just need contributions of a passionate few.
What we do know about the physical world is that people will always place higher value to things that they are passionate about. For different reasons, people love to collect or own things, wether it is for nostalgia, connection to a celebrity or mentor, supporting a cause, or supporting an artist, etc… even just owning something simply for investment purposes.
I’m not much of a collector, but I will buy something that I connect with, something akin to a digital aura that I identify with… wether it be music, a piece of artwork, an inspirational something. I think humans naturally do this, and as our lives continue to become increasingly more digital… connecting to what matters, be it in digital form, will become the norm.
Digital scarcity via NFT models is not just about collecting an item, but about utility — access-limited scarcity, special events, reputation, proximity-scarcity, time-released tokens, etc…
With the use of NFTs, for the first time, creators of digital assets can accurately price and distribute their work, and consumers can purchase and own a digital asset. With the inclusion of digital scarcity, the web moves from the internet of information to an internet of value .