Oh, the NFT.
Everyone’s been talking about NFTs lately, so much so that a new museum is set to become fully dedicated to the emerging art form.
The Seattle NFT Museum is set to open on January 14 and will be the first of its kind.
According to the official NFT Instagram page, the Seattle NFT Museum will “showcase artists and serve as a gathering space for enthusiasts and collectors.”
It will feature more than 30 high-quality screens for displaying digital art, with a goal of making NFTs more accessible, helping to expose digital art and artists, and helping people understand how to interpret the art form.
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In case you aren’t totally sure what NFTs are and don’t want to walk into the museum feeling uneducated, we’ve got you covered.
NFT stands for a non-fungible token and transforms digital works of art (amongst other collectibles) into verifiable assets. The ownership is processed via blockchain technology, which is why people have been referring to NFTs as a crypto craze.
The digital asset can be literally anything—from drawings to gifs, to a techno song produced by Elon Musk. Essentially, an NFT is like a one-of-a-kind trading card, which brings us to our next point: what exactly fungible means.
Fungibility basically refers to how interchangeable or exchangeable an asset is, in other words, how unique it is. For example, a bitcoin is fungible because any bitcoin is worth the same—they are identical. Something non-fungible, on the other hand, means it’s unique in its value and is one-of-a-kind, like a Pokemon card.
When you think about NFTs in this framework, it makes sense that they’ve become so popular in the art world, an industry that is all about exclusive ownerships of one-offs. And, like an original painting, an NFT can appreciate in value and can also be sold.
Some people think that an NFT gives you the copyright to the digital artwork you’re buying, but this isn’t actually the case. When you buy an NFT, the digital ledger acts as a certificate of the digital file that tracks who has ownership of it. If anyone copies the NFT, just like with copies of famous artworks, they won’t be the original; however, the artist still has the copyright and reproduction rights.
What has people scratching their heads about the inherent value of NFTs, is that, unlike physical art, where an original will be of a notably higher quality, a digital file that is copied is identical to its original. In other words, you can save a gif of a cat for free and it will still be the same gif of a cat that someone bought for a lot of money.
The frenzy over NFTs then seems to lie in the status of ownership of the art, not the quality of the original. Like your limited-edition pair of sneakers, the rarity and exclusivity increase the allure. In this sense, yes, they are kind of a massive flex.
But besides getting the bragging rights to ownership of an NFT, with an official certificate to prove it, buying the digital asset allows collectors to financially support artists. It will also allow the owner usage rights if they want to post it on an online platform.
Although NFTs are blowing up at the moment, like all trends, there’s no certainty that they will maintain momentum forever. The craze has been super popular with younger generations, but, as 2021 has shown us, there is no shortage of investing trends popping up. Whether a new tech trend is just around the corner to take its place, we’ll have to wait and see.
For now, purchase your own NFT or wait around for January 14, when you can visit the Seattle NFT Museum.