You’re sick of hearing about NFTs. I get it. 🙉
However, what if I told you everything you think you know about NFTs (non-fungible tokens) is wrong — that NFTs are actually good? NFTs are not only practical but a pivotal tool in the Web3 explosion, a digital key to unlock the unlimited potential on the blockchain-enabled web.
The enthusiasm and speculative market that has sprung up around NFTs is easily derided and written off by the mainstream — and the cult-like enthusiasm of “crypto-bros” isn’t helping matters. Accusations that NFTs are a Ponzi scheme, money laundering, or just the rich getting richer abound, creating an environment of greed and overhyped mania.
NFTs are a blockchain product that offers whole new ways to manage memberships, communities, and, yes, even art. While the current implementations might be the shiny gold rush of the moment, we’re all going to be using NFTs in the very near future — just not in the ways we currently understand them. But all the noise surrounding NFTs today is really just smoke signaling a white-hot fire burning just below the sightline, ready to burst into the mainstream.
What is an NFT? 🖼
NFTs are a product of the crypto blockchain, a self-governed, centralized ledger of transactions. When you buy or sell a cryptocurrency, those transactions are maintained and validated against the blockchain. NFTs function similarly: they are non-currency tokens whose ownership can be publicly verified against the blockchain.
NFTs unlock the power of the blockchain as a communal membership list that any website can tap into, opening up a whole new world of interactions. NFTs can be speculative art investments, content licenses, access keys, voting ballots, or membership cards. Combined with the power of Web3 technology, NFTs can enable functionality we haven’t even thought of yet.
Web3 merges the power of blockchain technology with mainstream access to the open web. One of its brilliant yet underrated characteristics is the ability to interact with the blockchain using standard webpages, something made possible by software called a “wallet” — either through plugins or mobile apps.
This web-native implementation makes it easy for blockchain technology to build itself into the online spaces we already visit. (It also makes the Internet Computer’s blockchain-enabled hosting one of the most forward-looking platforms, providing inexpensive transactions and hosting, speed, and scalability.)
Connect to Web3 👩💻
That small “Connect Wallet” button popping up on Web3 sites offers a new path to integrate the blockchain — and new opportunities to use NFTs to unlock the doors to communities, assets, and anything else.
The “Connect Wallet” button is the lock, and the NFTs in your wallet provides the key.
This is the power of Web3: a dynamic membership and commerce system, a blank slate for new types of interactions on the web, a platform to build a new generation of digital applications upon. The blockchain’s independent status also means the NFTs are directly owned and controlled by the end-user.
You can open your community to members who hold Ape NFTs, owners of certain skins from an NFT-enabled game, or any other club that’s out there — the opensource nature of the blockchain means its resources are available to anyone with a “Connect Wallet” button enabled on their webpage.
NFTs are the key 🔑
The games market makes a perfect fit for NFTs: loot boxes can be unique one-off items; rewards, achievements, and leaderboards can be tracked in a verifiable communal space. Through micro-transactions, there is already a thriving economy inside of games.
NFTs offer a new transaction layer, where ownership of game items is verified via a trustworthy third party — the blockchain — making that ownership much more accurate. Maybe that skin or weapon you’ve earned gives you access to particular areas, community spaces, or even new types of enemies and challenges.
This application of NFTs can extend far beyond games: Catalyze, a forthcoming membership app built on the Internet Computer, incorporates NFTs at a core level. Designed to compete with community Slacks and Discords, this blockchain-hosted application has its roots in the nonprofit community-building space. Donations are tracked, and register an NFT as a receipt. Online events generate medals and rewards as NFTs, proving participation.
This is just the beginning. NFTs are web-native skeleton keys that can be used to access any number of online doors, leading to communities and experiences behind the scenes. They offer novel solutions for online identity, community, digital goods, and proof of purchase. They are a flexible tool with unlimited potential, bringing communities together and enabling transactions and togetherness in a way the web has been lacking since its earliest days.
But sure, they’re also sales receipts for ape JPGs, too.
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