NFT And Me: The World's BEST Explainer Video Ever, And... Just Let Your Garden Grow

By BitcoinGordon | BitcoinGordon | 2 Jun 2021 

This is where I saw it from. I am not on TikTok, though I'm told "I HAVE to get a tiktok".

If someone wants to post a direct link to their video, please do so in comments.

I will die on this hill, that there will never be a better explanation of what an NFT is... ever.

Do you need to know that it stands for a Non-Fungible Token?

I would say "no". Why? Because the first thing to do when confusing someone about an NFT, is to detract from the fact that though technically, it was designed to mint a token, we have taken the technology to hold higher value as a pleasurable asset of some form. We deem the importance of the NFT market primarily as digital art. It could be a pdf file. It could be a song track. It could be a movie or looping GIF. In fact, prior to the NFT 2021 explosion, NFT was CryptoKitties. Collectible cards are certainly NFT's.

But, the thing that we need to understand about NFT is that it is a digital stored file that, without any doubt, is fully accessible to everyone with an internet connection. So, we all technically start by owning whatever asset has been minted and displayed, but the real magic sauce of NFT is being the only one allowed to claim ownership and to have that ownership posted permanently to the blockchain. If the owner wishes to sell it to someone else, they can do so, and the blockchain will update the transfer of ownership. A never-ending royalty can even be programmed into the smart contract.

Having said that, the true beauty of an NFT lies in the values we place on something. Anyone can post a picture of their art online, and people will say "ohhhh how beautiful". Some might actually be good, and someone will also say "where can I buy a print?". In this case, the idea is that the original is in fact the original, even if one million people download it for free. It essentially allows napster while also allowing the in-store purchase, and all parties walk away feeling good about the result.

So, let me quote the best aspects of this explainer, telling us what an NFT is:

"I think it's something that you have, but it's imaginary. You don't really have it; you're just pretending that you do, and you pay a lot of money to pretend that you have something, and it's really because you're now the only person allowed to pretend that you have it, and no one else is allowed to pretend now".

I hope the presenter is strong enough in character not to allow this to go to their head, because it may be a stroke of pure genius, in the simplicity with which they have encapsulated everything that is both wonderful, and fantastically flawed about NFT's.

Imagine if you went to the used car lot, and said "I need something reliable that doesn't need any body work, and I'm not going to pay more than $8,000 watcha got?"

The dealer says: "I've got this beaut, see, and it is low mileage, perfect body never been wrecked, will go 30 mpg, and you can have it for free!". 

Your response? "No way, I told you $8K is my max!".

That's my explanation of an NFT if it were tangible.

I know the philosophical explanations and they are a mile long. I love this debate, because I am a computer nerd and also a visual artist. I'm a musician and have developed audio software. I get the argument for, and against, and I have landed somewhere in between.

The real dangers of the coming battles over actual NFT rights, is going to come down to licensing and copyright, and the new internet has only just begun. Trust me, Gordon is saying it first, that there is going to be a huge amount of trouble that lands in all new legislation we DO NOT WANT, as a result of the really cool new digital economies spawning from smart contracts and their tech.

In the meantime, I stake my claim, without a single penny spent, that no one will ever define the NFT better than this young person in their video. In fact, my comment for it was intended as an endless loop, asking where I can buy this video as an NFT.

So, let's zoom out a bit.

I'm going to guess it has been more than 14 years now. A worship leader of a worship team that I played with had a friend who was the originator of a concept for a virtual mall where virtual assets were sold. They were nervous because they had a meeting with an investor who was going to buy their idea for over $1 million. My friends were floored that anyone would pay them that much and they just did not get it. People paying money to buy things they don't really have? "I just don't get it!" But, while I also thought it was hilarious, I was certain their friend was soon going to seriously regret only taking a million or so for their idea. I'd love to know what platform it actually ended up being. But, I don't know.

It was only a little while after this, that casual games were increasing in validity on Facebook, and one in particular caught my reflection after embracing the genius of the tiktok re: NFT.

Farmville. Never played it, only had others reflect their experience.

Years after my worship-team friends talked about their new millionaire buddy and his wacky idea, getting together with some other dear friends, it came up in conversation that they were worried about how addicted their mother had become, to playing Farmville. Their mother actually worried more about keeping up with their virtual garden than they did about reality. The situation arose, where they were going to go out of town and wouldn't be online. They arranged to have a close friend of theirs sign in to their Facebook account, and they paid them to "look after their Farmville for them". We laughed, but only with tears of irony, because the tables were somehow turning.

As kids, many of us grew up to see the first arcade games blossom into first gen Atari, and the home systems only improved every few years. But, anyone who first experienced being just good enough at a video game to learn the rules, but bad enough to get a little hooked, first by tossing another quarter in the slot, and then by wearing out a cartridge at home, knows that it was the children who worried the parents over their video game addictions. But now, the parents were the ones obsessing while us kids grew up and often were too busy, or too exhausted, to even think of playing a game. Now, we're worried that our parents are spending too many hours in front of the screen playing casual games.

This gets into the art and science of intentionally increasing certain elements of game play to drive addiction. Since I have dabbled in creating video games, and seriously considered shifting directions into it in the late 90's, I have studied a lot from game dev conferences, marketing, planning, story-boards, payroll you name it. One of the transitional times in the game world was indie developers trying to determine the entry points and "how far is too far" in charging for virtual assets. The take away at that time, was to not sell yourself short. "Never underestimate a user's willingness to spend way too much money for a worthless in-game asset". There were casual game developers that literally got paid less to develop a game, then what a single person would spend to own a blue hat instead of the free red hat. A $700 purse upgrade for a virtual character in a free casual game was not uncommon.

I kinda feel the same way about NFT's, and have come to a place of peace, that if a reasonable price is placed to show one's appreciation for a form of art, I am totally good with that. But, if it means thousands of dollars to pretend you imagine that you own something so that no one else is allowed to do so, you need a serious reality check.

From that friend of a friend who got rich for thinking of some aspect of the NFT, to the warning signs of addiction, I see the real foundation of where we are today in actual virtual coins, like Bitcoin, and reflect back on one more real phenomenon.

Many years ago, and I believe this was just as much a launching place for Bitcoin as napster and other ideas, I watched a lecture on the value placed on our virtual lives in games, dealing specifically with World of Warcraft. The most important part of the lecture, was explaining how the Chinese government had converted miles of defunct factories into living quarters and work-dens for World of Warcraft players to mine virtual gold.

The CCP was essentially getting $30 of value out of every $3 they paid each kid to mine gold in WoW all day, all night. They worked 13 hours/day with 2 15 minute breaks for meals, and one full day off every month. They literally lived in the massive plants in shared bunk rooms. The players, still addicted to the game, experienced the mental anguish and fatigue of playing the game that they loved, but playing it according to entirely the wrong set of rules, incapable of enjoying their characters or missions. But, there was no question a virtual asset had grown out of a virtual world that was as tangible as any other job someone could perform. It was Bitcoin, but different. Now, because of liability, ironically blockchain technology is the very tool that is coming along to allow WoW and other asset-based mission-based open world team-based games to base an asset-economy inside the game without platform liability. It's a whole new thing...

The thing that stuck with me perhaps more than just the irony of finding new intangible assets that could be cashed out for 'real' money, was the fact that when these exhausted kids (ok teens, young adults) finally clocked out, they would largely hang out in the worker's lounges to play their own characters in WoW. Their rebellion against their crappy job, was to play the game for another 5-6 hours off-the-clock.

I bring this up, because the industry ebbs and flows, begins trends and answers to them. I think we hit lulls of stagnant plateaus sometimes not out of a lack of inspiration or new ideas, but perhaps because we become happy with where we are. Sometimes, I think we do not deserve a better Facebook to fight censorship, because we prove that we are willing to continue spen... wasting time there. We don't deserve to evade Jack's CT cancel culture because, we stay on Twitter to complain about the injustice of Twitter. But, this complacency is also, in many ways, where we develop our strongest culture and our deepest roots, so it could also be said that without lulls of existential pause, we wouldn't be who we are today. We plant our roots in real life, and in our virtual worlds. So, I encourage you to let your garden grow; just make sure you get something of real value from it.

In the end, we now have the 14th iteration of NFT, and the minted token is just one new way to advance the idea that we place far too much value on the intangible interpretation of ourselves.

We imagine that we can pretend to own something so that no one else is allowed to pretend.

And, on that note, a real-world example of an imaginary 3D super hero, crypto Gordon Freeman, for now... out.

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Hi! I'm Gordon Freeman (I hear they made a likeness of me in some video game... totally unrelated... or...).


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