I’ve got a headache.
I’ve been hearing about these non-fungible thingies on the inter webs and I simply cannot get my head around them.
For one thing, the definitions seem fungible: on one site it is thus: Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are pieces of digital content linked to the blockchain, the digital database underpinning cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ethereum. Unlike NFTs, those assets are fungible, meaning they can be replaced or exchanged with another identical one of the same value, much like a dollar bill.
So wait. A (an?) NFT is a FT? What is bitcoin in this non and fungible universe? Is ethereum a substance? Can I touch it?
And then there’s this definition of the general terms: (From an article that explains in language I find impenetrable that most definitions of ‘non-fungible’ are wrong. Really? WHO WOULD KNOW?)
(especially of goods) being of such nature or kind as to be freely exchangeable or replaceable, in whole or in part, for another of like nature or kind.
A non-fungible asset therefore has the opposite characteristics to this definition. Those elements are:
The definition of a NFT is equally muddy. According to Wikipedia, it’s:
A non-fungible token is a unit of data on a digital ledger called a blockchain, where each NFT can represent a unique digital item, and thus they are not interchangeable. NFTs can represent digital files such as art, audio, videos, items in video games and other forms of creative work.
Well, this all sounds simple, until one is listening to a news item about how people are buying Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) of shoes. Virtual shoes. That you wear on your instagram feet. That you pay actual hard money for. Or Bitcoin, possibly, but those trace back to cold hard cash as well. I think. Because Bitcoin is both fungible and not?
And then Wikipedia mentions this bit (accents mine): NFTs include links pointing to where the art and any details about it are stored, but the links can die.Ownership of an NFT does not inherently grant copyright to any art represented by the NFT. Although an artist can sell an NFT representing a work, the artist can still retain the copyright to the work and create more NFTs of the same work. The buyer of the NFT does not gain exclusive access to the work, nor does the buyer gain possession of the “original” digital file. A person who uploads a certain work as an NFT does not have to prove that they are the original artist, and there have been numerous cases where art was used for NFTs without the creator’s permission.
Well, that all sounds like a great investment.
As a non-fungible being, I find this all rather a. confusing, b. stinking of a ripoff and c. criminal. I cannot wear virtual shoes through a rainstorm (not that I would want to given that they cost more than my entire wardrobe). I can’t even hang a NFT of a painting on my wall to look at – unless I staple my computer to said wall and never use it for anything else. Bitcoin sounds like a really good way to lose your money, fast fast, or legalized gambling (and we all know that in a depression we need more of those things. Because none of us are feeling desperate these days.)
Two things occur to me at this point. First, a lot of people have way too much money. If you have to spend your money on instagram shoes because you have bought everything else you need, you should perhaps contemplate supporting a person living in poverty and/or an entire country. Say the Sudan. Or the US. Because the money being spent on these ultimate ephemera is eye-waveringly massive.
Look at the prices on those tiny, very copiable images at the top of the blog. Or this.
(Would just like to mention the above is plagiarism of The Simpsons (an actual creative thing), ergo meaningless and perhaps illegal)
Of course this is when I realize I am becoming an old person. See, I even find buying music in iTunes vaguely uneasiness-causing. I like to be able to hold the things I buy in my hot little non-fungible hands and wave them about. Having them in a virtual environment makes them seem completely theft-inviting. Don’t we all remember Amazon clawing back books people bought for their Kindles?
And are those books fungible or non? If you can trace the purchase into the blockchain (whatever the f that is and I don’t mean fungible), apparently you can prove the thing is yours. Uh huh. I feel my cynical self making a wry smile at this. Good luck with that, my CS says.
This reminds me of the Artillery Prints my ex was pressured into buying when we were posted in Germany. Everyone was buying them, they said. They would grow in value. They were a “good investment.” So ex went merrily and bought them despite their utter hideousness and huge size. We noted the ‘number of prints’ pencilled on the bottom. Ours were in the 200s. Never mind, we told each other, it’s still a small number, still valuable. Then we heard that since the prints were so popular, they decided to do an additional huge print run. Bing. Value gone. Of course, the huge frames they had to be put in are probably worth something. And we did have the dubious pleasure of having most of our wall space taken up with prints of people rolling various guns through mud (though they did dress well, and looked terribly brave while they did so). (note: CS (see above) couldn’t help but wonder how the clean and shiny lads were able to keep that way – did they have to paint the inside of stoves and everything with toxic paint as they did on the base in Shilo, MB – rendering the stoves unusable but very pretty?)
This all brings forward the ultimate point. Why are we buying meaningless things that are about as useful as those painted stoves? I say ‘we’ but this will never be me. First of all, if I am going to spend my fungible assets on something, it will likely be books or conferences or god forbid, medication for my aged cat. Or food. I like food.
I figure spending on things that can not be clearly defined is never a good idea. Virtual clothing seems like a bad choice in this climate. And I like to buy the actual art, thanks. The kind that smells of oils or acrylics if you scrape a tiny edge. The kind that has been known to persist for hundreds of years.
Now that’s a non-fungible asset!