NFTs and The Tokenization of Culture

NFTs will change this value system by revolutionizing the way we convey value in our society, changing the things society deems valuable, and adding emotional value significance to all cultural aspects of modern life.

Author: Diamond Atlas | October 4, 2021

NFTs and The Tokenization of Culture

Throughout history, there have been defining moments that have revolutionized the way in which we interact with and perceive the world. The invention of the telephone enabled people to connect from separate, specific locations, making communication faster and more reliable than it had ever been before. Borrowing from the work of competing scientist Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison was credited with inventing the lightbulb, which created a gateway to the electrical world and took us out of the dark ages of wood fires and candlelit halls.

Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, we have seen a treasure trove of discoveries and inventions lead us to the normal fixtures of everyday life. Cultures have been redefined and revolutionized on countless occasions through improvements in technology and the ability for us to adapt. Not only are our cultures evolving, but we as a society are evolving, building new and improved ideologies that need a platform to leverage our inventions and replicate the implied value of reaching these undiscovered territories.

Social Capital in the Modern Era

The concept of social energy and social currency first came about with the advent of the social media era. Suddenly a brand’s worth could be defined by more than just its revenue as the amount of people interested in, engaging with, and talking about them could be quantified as well. Data collected about our activities on social media became a source of wieldable power for the social media kingpins—and, by extension, advertising conglomerates—to steer us in any direction they deemed capable of serving their own causes. Soon enough, everything we browsed, said, and shared was documented and used to attack our user experience and privacy.

When blockchain was first used for mining the genesis block on the Bitcoin network in January 2009, it gave us the chance to change the dynamic and combat the privacy threat posed. We gained a platform for value to be transferred with no need for an intermediary. Value is an abstract concept; it lies in the eye of the beholder. Value should be determined by society and not by how companies think user actions and engagements suggest things are valued. NFTs will change this value system by revolutionizing the way we convey value in our society, changing the things society deems valuable, and adding emotional value significance to all cultural aspects of modern life.

How NFTs Will Change Our Value Systems

So what is an NFT? In the very basic sense, an NFT is a non-fungible token. Non-fungible means it is unique in its own way and cannot be replicated. Fungible tokens in comparison are replaceable and can be exchanged for similar tokens (e.g. Bitcoin can be exchanged for other Bitcoin, which is the exact same token). An NFT can be traded, but you can never receive the same NFT in exchange; you will always receive something different. This explanation is just the tip of the metaphoric iceberg.

There are modern-day cultures that have thrived off of collective narrative of the appreciating value of collectible properties and curios such as sports cards, Pokémon cards, signed sports memorabilia, dinosaur skeletons, art, etc. The list is endless. These assets show telling aspects of consumer behavior and factors of communicative expression, absolute evidence of acute social consciousness.

Once basic needs are accounted for, human psychology is predicated on finding value in things, preferably things that have an appreciative nature. Rarity is an element that plays a vital role in society figuring out the perceived value of goods. Another aspect is passion, enjoyment, and fulfillment of holding or collecting these goods. What sets possessions of this nature apart from everyday goods is that they help establish an identity for the holder and assist the construction of a social profile that is determined by that person.

What sets possessions of this nature apart from everyday goods is that they help establish an identity for the holder and assist the construction of a social profile that is determined by that person.

When collectors buy works of art, maybe on some level it’s because they want to look at the art, but that is secondary to the value the art poses as an investment. Art isn’t strictly useful in and of itself, but it provides value in the form of increasing monetary value due to scarcity and appreciation while contributing to cultural identity. The same is true for NFT artworks. As unique (non-fungible) assets, their scarcity makes them worth more. They can be seen or downloaded limitlessly, but they can only be truly owned singularly.

Beyond just being investment opportunities, NFTs allow our cultural identity to be formed in a non-physical way and push us to think differently about the way we perceive value. They provide owners the power of mint identity tokenization unique and original to the tastes and passions of each individual. They allow users to show the world who they are through collections in an increasingly expressive way as a part of the blockchain. NFTs are the beginning of a new era of modern art, a new world renaissance with limitless possibilities for all participants.

How NFTs Are Changing the Way We Engage

One truly revolutionary aspect of the NFT world is the development of new forms of media and engagement. Creators are using NFTs to transport readers with new stories, move people with spoken-word poetry, and even tell broader extra-narrative stories using characters, features, events, or other storytelling elements as NFTs that incentivize reader participation and cooperation. Projects like Elektra incorporate audiences with creators/developers to make a collaborative narrative and musical score. In a growing genre known as “bottom-up fiction,” fans gain ownership of NFTs to create their own stories. As these stories take off or their universes grow and become canonized, the associated NFTs gain value. NFTs are similarly being used to create a whole new sector of gaming. In the popular Axie Infinity, which is run on the Ethereum blockchain, NFTs are used as in-game items. The half-million daily users make transactions with real-world money to acquire game items. In its early months, the game has already drawn more fees than Ethereum and Bitcoin protocols.

Building Communities in the NFT Marketplace

Web 3.0 is both the present and the future of not only the internet and commerce, but the world at large. It will shape everything about our businesses, finances, governments, and lives in the years to come.

The marketplace allows for a flat structure between all market participants. Artists now have the ability to mint artworks without a physical gallery or any middleman who requires a commission. Musicians can mint records without record labels taking royalties in perpetuity. The script has now flipped for creator and collector, as all NFTs have smart contract potential. IP creation is once again at the genesis stage.

The script has now flipped for creator and collector, as all NFTs have smart contract potential. IP creation is once again at the genesis stage.

Society functions on a system of contractual obligations. NFTs can make everything more convenient and transparent. Tokens can be transferred with the capability of containing deeds to houses, tickets to sports games or concerts, restaurant reservations, and, more importantly, the possibility of perpetual royalty commission and finders fee transfers, helping establish a legacy for generations of creators and artists. There will always be a secure history of asset transfer, easily accessible through the blockchain for maximum clarity.

Asset providence will be at the forefront of the NFT space while communities scratch through the surface and discover new and innovative ways to revolutionize society and tokenize our cultures. Fans and arts patrons will have the opportunity to support their favorite artists and creators with the peace of mind that said creators will benefit directly while enabling those creators to incentivize their community for showing support. This creates a whole new dynamic between creator and community that has to this point been undiscovered. The possibilities are endless.

Metaverses: Building New Social Realities

The concept of metaverses has been around for decades as a theory or thought experiment. But in the NFT world, the Metaverse is already on its way. Platforms like Decentraland allow users to obtain virtual properties and then build their own structures from the ground up. They can interact with others, buy and sell assets, and even develop in-world applications and games.

The concept of ownership is fundamental in the physical world, where resources and land are finite. In the limitlis network reality, the commodification of property and assets will function similarly. The tech startup High Fidelity has already begun developing a virtual society that integrates in compelling ways with users’ home lives. Existing brands can create unique presences within this space; Spotify, for example, could host listening parties to stream the latest Kanye West album with the artist and his crew (virtually) in attendance, accessible by crypto entry fees with NFT “door prizes.”

In the Metaverse, users can spend real money earned from their real-world jobs on digital assets, filling their own property with art and playing music and movies purchased or accessed entirely from that virtual space. Gamers can barter and exchange in-game items with other players all over the world. Assets can be sold from anywhere by anyone and then exchanged for cryptocurrencies and cashed out in real-world currency, which could become increasingly superfluous.

The Long Way Forward for NFTs

The NFT trend is still in its infant age of discovery with an overly increasing supply that has demand struggling to keep up with the hype. The majority of the newer projects will most likely fail, but the survivors will create a foundational foothold the NFT market can build from. But high-profile supporters like Visa are contributing significant investments into NFTs, injecting a high level of confidence that this could be more than a passing fad.

During the next few years, NFTs will establish a significant space in the market as tokens are increasingly discovered and adopted. Moving power away from intermediaries and allowing for artists and creators to forge their own paths creates more organic growth within the community and the space itself. Having the ability to determine what we deem is emotionally significant, socially energetic, thought-provoking, and communicatively expressive is something we as a community can leverage to show the world who we are.

The study of history shows us that our societies are defined by our expressions of culture, and our commerce reflects those expressions. The art, music, entertainment, and literature that best project who we are as people gain value and in turn become valuable, inevitably commodifying them. We’re already seeing signs that NFTs will facilitate that commodification into the future. Platforms like Audius offer blockchain-based streaming libraries, allowing users to list “streamable” NFTs like music and art.

As digital realities become increasingly integrated into our “real” lives, the borders between what’s real and what’s digital will become blurrier. All the things that make up who we are as people—the music we create and popularize, the artworks that depict our struggles and symbols, the games we congregate with dedicate our time to en masse, the literature that helps us understand the world around us—all of it will become a part of our digital universes and carry the same cachet, inspiration, and value.

The revolution is here, what do you want to show the world?

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