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Sunday, 7 March 2021

WTF is an NFT — and why is it all people can talk about these days?

SOUND SMART- What the hell is an NFT — and why is everybody and her sister suddenly talking about them? “The artist Grimes recently sold a bunch of NFTs for nearly USD 6 mn. An NFT of LeBron James making a historic dunk for the Lakers garnered more than USD 200k. The band Kings of Leon is releasing its new album in the form of an NFT.”

Okay, but you really want to know what an NFT is? It’s a non-fungible token. A unique digital thing recorded on the blockchain as … uniquely yours — after you kick over real-world cash (or some BTC) for it.

But … what is it? Think of it like a both certificate of provenance and ownership for digital art. You buy a clip of video or a GIF or a JPEG, and your ownership recorded on the block chain. You probably don’t get the copyright, and good luck trying to make sure there are no other digital copies out there on the interwebs. But you’re the owner of the “one true video” of Lebron’s dunk. (If you’re willing to believe there’s one true anything in this digital world of ours.)

Can I make an NFT of my own? Sure thing. All you need to do is make a file (a .TXT file of your great novel, say, or a JPG of your bellybutton lint), then upload it to an NFT marketplace where collectors can then start bidding. OpenSea bills itself as one of the biggest marketplaces, and there’s already a league table…

Okay, so … show me a real live NFT? Sure thing — here’s that clip of Lebron dunking. Some bozo paid USD 71,455 to “own” it, but you can watch it without charge.

Why are we all suddenly reading about NFTs and … a week ago nobody had ever heard of them? You may thank the hype machine that is the interwebs.

Want to go deeper? The Verge and NPR have got your back.

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