The non-fungible token craze is real, but its legitimacy and longevity remain unknowns.
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are the new gold rush. Artists to authors are selling unique digital ownership of their works through Ethereum’s blockchain to investors and collectors with disposable income to burn. These memes, images, songs, stories and just about anything else still exist online for anyone to access for free too. As surreal as it sounds, some things that have been sold as NFTs include Twitter ceo Jack Dorsey’s first tweet, a New York Times article by technology columnist Kevin Roose and Kings of Leon’s new album When You See Yourself.
The head-scratching prices they fetch—most publicized when Christie’s auctioned the NFT for the JPG file of no-name, digital artist Beeple’s “Everydays: The First 5,000 Days” for $69.3 million in March—leave much to be explained and approached with great suspicion about this cryptocurrency phenomenon that took nearly a decade to hit the mainstream and become trendy ad nauseam.
Like gold, NFTs are shiny and seem like an easy way to make money, whether on the buying or selling end, but they can also be hacked as the recent sleepminting of a second edition of Beeple’s record-breaking work proves. Minting is when someone from Eminem to the Friends With You art duo registers an NFT of their creation to sell. Sleepminting occurs when a hacker mints someone else’s work without their knowledge and consent and transfers ownership to himself.
The shady side of something that seems too good to be true is being slowly revealed, while most new inventions from automobiles to smartphones come with their pitfalls. Since NFTs are so new and blew up overnight, their meaning and technology is evolving at a rapid pace and still being figured out even by the brightest minds and tech geeks. The advice is to have fun, read up a lot and proceed with caution, because no one really knows where this is going.