Block to the Future: The Rise of Non-F*ckwithable Tapes (NFTs)
Posted June 29, 2021
The car, computer, mobile phone, Internet, and mobile apps. These are all examples of technology that gained global adoption in the last century.
Crypto is the next industry poised to see global adoption.
As with any transformative new technology, it’s still unclear to many what mass adoption would look like…
Or even why we need it.
And, of course, no major innovation arises without resistance.
Consider that, in the early 1900s, there was no shortage of opposition to the impending mass adoption of cars.
While some cities outright banned automobiles, in Glencoe, Illinois, private citizens took matters into their own hands. In one instance, a small group of #resisters famously stretched steel cables across the road to stop the “devil machines” from rolling through.
Meanwhile, three states over, a group called the Farmers’ Anti-Automobile Society of Pennsylvania proposed the following laws for their state:
1. Cars traveling on country roads at night must shoot a roman candle into the sky every mile and then wait ten minutes for the streets to clear. After that, the driver may proceed, with caution, blowing his horn and shooting off roman candles along the way, as prescribed.
2. If the driver of an automobile sees a team of horses approaching, he is to stop, pulling over to one side of the road, and cover his machine with a blanket or dust cover which is painted or colored to blend into the scenery, and thus render the machine less noticeable.
3. In case a horse is unwilling to pass an automobile on the road, the driver of the car must take the machine apart as rapidly as possible and conceal the parts in the bushes.
Make no mistake. Regulators worldwide await with bated breath to introduce similarly encumbering legislation against the cryptonauts.
Crypto is an Easy Target… For Now
As author Calestous Juma shows in his book, Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies, our skepticism of technological innovation is ancient.
And crypto in particular is an easy target for skeptics.
From the outside looking in, it’s a snakepit of scammers, hype, and vaporware. Any technology that does exist still seems largely experimental, abstract, and not grounded in the real world.
From the outside looking in, furthermore, things like “Non-Fungible Tokens” (NFTs) seem like a strange mania, like the one that happened centuries ago with tulips…
Beeple’s $69 million NFT seems destined to end up in history books alongside other mildly interesting novelties, like chia heads, pet rocks, and Tamagotchis.
Judy Lindsay, a film producer and photographer, thinks otherwise.
“This,” she said recently, “is a revolution. I think we’re in a period of time that will be looked back on as probably greater than the Renaissance.”
And the easiest way to understand why is to see what problem NFTs solve…
And why they, in a way, take us back to the future.
Block to the Future
Recall that, in the early 2000s, both the music and movie industry took a massive hit when the Internet made it possible and easy to distribute video and music content illegally.
The Internet dematerialized their content, allowing users to copy and share it an infinite amount of times.
Before the Internet, of course, this content was physical and essentially “non-fungible.”
Non-fungible goods are often unique, limited by time, location, source, or accessibility. They can be artworks, land, events, or even VHS tapes.
The music and entertainment industries thrived because people purchased and consumed physical items that pirates couldn’t easily copy and share.
Furthermore, VHS tapes had immutability built into the hardware. To record over a video, VCRs required a specific tab on VHS tapes. Without the tab, it’s immutable.
(That way, you could rest assured your kid couldn’t accidentally (or intentionally) record over your favorite movie trying to capture those forbidden fuzzy channels with names like “Skinemax).”
These two features -- scarcity and immutability -- opened up a secondary market where people sold and traded their used copies (Gamestop model).
In the early 2000s, however, the Internet kneecapped this business model. Virtually overnight, the entire entertainment industry began losing tens of billions of dollars each year.
Now, however, that tide is turning.
The Non-F*ckwithable Tape (NFT)
NFTs are a way for artists, entertainers, and other creatives to “rematerialize” their creations in a digital age. Or, at least, bring immutability and scarcity to their digital (or even physical) creations.
In a satirical fashion, the video game publisher Devolver shows how these NFTs could work with their “Non-F*ckwithable Tape” (NFT).
They recorded a presentation on a VHS tape, tore out the tab so it couldn’t be recorded over, and sold it for $1,000.
Though Devolver pulled this stunt to mock the rise of NFTs, it reveals where the true potential of NFTs -- immutability and scarcity on the Internet.
NFTs allow for digital products like music, art, and videos to regain the properties that made them valuable and tradeable before the Internet. Even better, proof of ownership and authenticity is baked into the cake.
Furthermore, with smart contracts, artists can automate perpetual royalties. Whenever their art is re-sold on a secondary market, they automatically get a cut of the sale.
NFTs, used in this manner, don’t just revolutionize the entertainment industry for the “little guy,” entertainment executives are catching onto the benefits, too.
Mass Adoption is Inevitable
To be sure, entertainment executives don’t care about:
→ The price or market cap of a crypto
→ What NFT means
→ The tokenomics (supply, staking, burning, rewards)
→ The blockchain logistics (nodes, interoperability, etc.)
But they DEFINITELY care about:
→ Stopping piracy and digital theft
→ Protecting intellectual property
→ Automating authentication processes (PPV for livestreams, for example)
→ Enhancing customer experience (making it more unique, memorable, and special)
NFTs, as you saw yesterday, can help them solve the byzantine tangled mess that is currently the entertainment industry.
And, NFTs can help individual artists have more control over their work.
Thus, anyone considering joining the Anti-NFT Society of Pennsylvania should reconsider.
NFTs aren’t going anywhere.
And, as we also outlined yesterday, with THETA’s latest patent for the use of NFTs to automate DRM (Digital Rights Management) authentication…
THETA is uniquely positioned to grab the lion’s share of this market when the entertainment industry starts piling in.
Managing editor, Laissez Faire Today
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