If you’re playing middleman, frankly, I think you’re wasting your life, but then I don’t see how you’re so different from an art dealer or auction house. At any rate, you’re probably a better allocator of those dollars than whoever gave them to you. (Exception: if you’re pitching NFTs as investments to unsophisticated investors, you deserve to be prosecuted.)
All that said, NFTs do something similar to what much of fine art and religious prohibitions do: demonstrate group membership by submitting to arbitrary prohibition and sacrifice requirements  with the aim of accessing club goods , e.g. in-group access and standing. When someone calls NFTs a scam, they’re saying those club goods are worthless. Objectively, as a crypto sceptic, the wealth made by crypto insiders would appear to reject that hypothesis. (Whether buying an NFT or expensive painting alone confers those club goods is a separate question.)
I think there's a significant group who are buying because under their understanding of what NFTs are, they're silly/funny/make them happy, but that they are mistaken about what NFTs are.
Arguably if it's bringing them joy, who cares, but at some level this is still a scam.
Which is all well and good in a sense, I’m not gonna cry over rich people spending their money on bs. But it’s also the case that if you take this position, you do abdicate any ability to advocate for NFTs as something other than a scam. And if you try and flip this around and argue that “art dealing is a legitimate business actually”, people will (correctly) look at you weird.
Some of what I see people selling for 10ETH are so unimaginative. But then again people in the past bought rocks as pets, so there is always someone with too much money and no sense...
Art itself is often overpriced, but it has a long history of increasing in value over time (since generally it is only made once and the artist eventually dies), and is a legit investment (and often handy for money laundering but then so is real estate and even startups). But NFTs are mostly uninteresting art, can be made in huge quantities with no work by an artist, and have no useful value other than bragging rights I guess. Museums who want to display NFTs are seriously hilarious.
Some NFTs are made by real artists who actually work hard on the works, but very few make any money at all (Beeple for example is a hard working real artist who got lucky) since NFT people seem to only gravitate to the auto-generated things like the apes.
Like, would I pay $100 for a super high quality 2ftx2ft print of a diagonal gradient with two really well chosen colors? Yeah, possibly, if I thought it would look nice in my living room. Would I pay even $10 (let alone thousands) to “own” a PNG of that gradient in some abstract sense? Absolutely not.
Art also has no intrinsic value. Art is also used for money laundering. When you buy art, you don't own the copyright, you just own the original production. The copyright owner can continue to manufacture prints and reproductions, but they are worth a fraction of the original. If it were possible to create one, an exact atom-for-atom duplicate of a piece of art would likely also only be worth a small fraction of the "original".
Even weirder, nowadays, much art doesn't really have an "original" as it was produced electronically in the first place - so what does owning the original even mean? Is it really an original, or is it just a blessed instance that everyone commonly understands as the one with value?
Arguably NFTs distill the essence of art ownership into its core proposition: you become the owner of intangible that is commonly understood by all market participants to truly represent the artwork and is valued as such.
The NFT market is odd, but the art market is odd in general.
But none of your arguments apply to 'art in general' at all, do they? Because when you "buy art" you are actually... buying a piece of art.
The way we value 'art' obviously has culturally historical oddities attached to it. But none of them are comparable to what people are paying for when 'buying' NFTs (ie: their name in a database).
Which was the entire point of the Twitter thread.
The value in owning art isn't the physical object. The value comes from how owning that specific physical object means you "own" that art, whatever that means. I don't really understand why anyone would care about that either, but people clearly do.
And even if you disagree with that point, the other points about not owning copyright, lack of intrinsic value and using art for money laundering definitely apply to real art too.
It's naive to think that the majority of the value of buying a painting of a pure black square comes from having the physical painting itself rather than almost exclusively out of the story and recognition by others. Once you recognize that it's not so hard to see that you can remove the physical painting aspect altogether.
Most art isn’t celebrity art. It’s bought to support the artist and/or the gallery, with the side advantage of having something beautiful and/or culturally meaningful in your home.
> If it were possible to create one, an exact atom-for-atom duplicate of a piece of art would likely also only be worth a small fraction of the "original".
Is a hypothetical for now.
I don’t get most of the famous artists — Picasso, The Beatles, Shakespeare and so on all seem overrated to me — but high-value original works are mostly that way because they are distinguishable from copies. I expect atomically precise duplicates would destroy the market for collector items unless you can re-attach scarcity in some way.
Let's say this theoretical duplicator was perfect in every way EXCEPT you could tell it wasn't the original because the isotopic signatures didn't match. That is, for all intents and purposes, each duplicate is exactly the same but each instance encodes an unreproducible signature that can be used to identify it.
I postulate the original would still carry an enormous value relative to the exact duplicates.
I think this gets to the core of why so many people (like the entirety of Hacker News) seem to irrationally hate NFTs, to the point of posting about it almost every day instead of just ignoring it.
There are shared delusions that are useful as social coordinating forces. Religions are generally this. Social justice is this. And crypto is also this. I find that a lot of the irrational hatred for NFTs and crypto in general tends to come from people who hold certain shared delusions and who don't like that another competing one is so successful at coordinating behavior.
If what you believe was true then we would see plenty of people talk about all those things, but as you said nobody talks about it so those communities doesn't exists. It is basically all scams and people talking about theoretical scenarios of people maybe caring about NFT's in the future.
Here is a very simple example of a community that's just a normal community of people buying and selling NFTs https://www.hicetnunc.xyz/ without it being about "getting rich quick" like you said. There are other communities like this. Again, no one talks about it because it doesn't fit their narrative, not because it isn't popular or because it doesn't exist.
It logs all trades here, no sign that any of it are unique stuff. I don't really see how it is related to NFT's etc, but the guy linking the site said it had to do with NFT so I used that language. I assume the site owner call it NFT's as well, but since they take 10% royalties it can't really be, can it?
Anyway, at least it isn't a good example of NFT's being functional. It is just a site where you can trade images associated with your profile. NFT's doesn't add any value to being able to trade pictures between profile process, it is just there to make people think this is a new valuable thing. But nobody who cares about images cares about NFT's, they care about the image being associated with their account or that money goes to the author. The whole NFT thing is just nonsense.
> ”NFT's doesn't add any value to being able to trade pictures between profile process”
I think this is incorrect. And I think ‘profile pictures’ & avatars and such will be the first ‘real’ application of NFT art.
In a few years, most likely all the major social media platforms will integrate whatever the few most popular NFT chains are. Then your avatar badge can be whatever cool NFT art you own, and it will be able to be verified on the blockchain.
So to your point that you linked to, there are 25 copies. That’s not 25 people owning the same NFT, that’s 25 different NFTs owned by different people. So if you aren’t one of those 25 people, you won’t be able use it as a ‘verified’ avatar on “some_social_media_platform”.
Sure, anyone can copy and paste a picture and ‘steal’ it, but if you don’t control a token with that picture in it, then you don’t own it, not really sure why that concept is so hard?
Yeah I can put up a print of the Mona Lisa is my living room, but I obviously don’t own the actual Mona Lisa. The same way I could copy and paste a picture of some very popular NFT art, like a CryptoPunk or something. But my copy can’t be verified on chain, and hence I would just be displaying a ‘fake’ on my profile. And everyone would know it. Who knows how this will be implemented, but some have suggested something similar to the ‘verified’ check mark for famous people.
If you control a token, then Twitter or whoever can show some indication that is indeed verified, and not a copy.
There are zero reasons for a site to have an NFT tied to what images you display in your profile on that site. Having a market for images for that site is fine. But if there was a huge demand for such sites then they would exist before NFT's. Their massive explosion in popularity thus must be that the space filled with NFT scammers with little to no real demand.
Also, I don't remember ever seeing a limited edition in asset store, and tracking ownership changes of digital assets is annoying to say the least. NFT folks argue that tracking them on a blockchain works well, isn't reliant on the original creator "approving" the resale unless its setup that way and makes it publicly transparent that the claims about "only one" or "only X" are true.
If those differences have any value to you is of course a personal thing. For me personally, the "own a unique digital thing" isn't really something I care about, but I get how the logic works if you do. And selling purely digital artworks has been a problem for artists before, so apparently this "public scarcity" is something some buyers care for that wouldn't just pay to download something from the artists website for whatever reason. (And plenty people who think anything "limited" doesn't have extra value and are just as happy with a unlimited print than with a special limited edition - but clearly there is a large enough market that disagrees, since otherwise more expensive limited editions wouldn't be a thing)
Just because it's nonsense doesn't mean that a bunch of people aren't going to make significant amounts of money before it fades away.
I believe that in English language fraud is an appropriate word for such enterprises.
Is it a scam? well it depends whether the elite values NFT or not... it certainly is a speculative "asset" by nature.
It's not a scam provided people know what they are exactly buying. It's more of yet another "get rich quick" scheme for some.
However, beyond the speculative aspect of NFT, artists need to know that putting their art in a virtual gallery as NFT WILL COST THEM money, so the business model for the middle man is to make artist believe that they will make money from NFT. The house always wins...
For things like ship preorders on Star Citizen it's much more of a risk that the value will ever be delivered but it's still offers more than just a note of ownership of an abstract token on a blockchain sequence.
If someone decides to honor these tokens as proof of ownership of property/items in the real world/ a virtual world then they may offer some value but there's a very great risk that will never happen.
It’s a little crazy to me how Twitter profiles with Apes are viewed as “influencers” and “pioneers” and get treated as such. Not my cup of tea per se, but there is tangible value for some people there.
NFTs give you NOTHING. They don't give you the right to anything. All you own is a (hopefully) unique cryptographic sequence.
>Something to look at maybe, something that distinguishes you in game?
You pretty obviously get that here, too. I honestly don't see why you'd think it gives you less other than out of general dislike for NFTs.
Many people also say EVs and green energy are a scam.
People also frequently accuse public companies of being scams or trash (there's a certain intersection between the previous sentence here).
Healthy skepticism is a powerful weapon of thought. But you have to be able to acknowledge where skepticism ends and stubborn refusal to accept reality starts.
Humans value certain things. They may not be the same things you value. That doesn't necessarily mean they're just "a giant scam".
This (very uninteresting) Twitter rant doesn’t really make any good arguments. The comparison to ‘star naming’ services is very contrived & makes absolutely no sense.
Some stuff is for sale. Nobody is being tricked into buying it. Everyone knows you click right click and save if you want.
Nope, you're buying a non-fungible token on a public ledger where the data and association with a specific address (or addresses) can be read without permission. This ownership and permission can then be moved around (potentially for large sums - potentially for near-zero amounts) by means that are independent of the client used. So for instance an NFT could give me access to an exclusive Discord channel (the client here being a Discord bot) and I could potentially sell or otherwise pass that onto someone else who wants access. The ownership of that token could also afford me access to, for instance, buying another token on another smart contract (the client here being another smart contract).
That they are commonly linked to metadata associated with JPEGs is really missing the opportunity here.
Furthermore, since everything's on a public ledger the much-stated money laundering is surprisingly difficult. And in fact multiple people have been caught out by this (a simple example being one of OpenSea's PM's wallets showing that they were frontrunning; another is VCs front-running their portfolio companies' air drops). That NFTs are often exchanged between bot accounts and multiple wallets (often tracked back to known individuals) to pump prices is also well-known and visible on the blockchain.
Whether or not you think expensive JPEGs are 2020s' Beanie Babies, it's hard to imagine a programmer on HN not being able to think of interesting non-JPEG things to do with an open source, public and permissionless ledger/database.
EDIT: disclosure - I have some JPEG NFTs. They weren't super expensive to me but I bought them so I had skin in the game that forced me to investigate this market rather than shouting "but money laundering!" from the sidelines. I'm glad I did this. Via getting into the weeds I've discovered a vibrant and super interesting ecosystem of developers, entrepreneurs, cryptographers and opportunities I'd never have known about otherwise. Are my JPEGs worth it? Doubt it. But the experience has been super interesting so far.
You underestimate the extent at which working-for-a-living has utterly destroyed my sense of imagination and ability to have an original thought.
It’s depressing. Very much so.
The history of cryptocurrency is exclusively people trying to come up with ideas for this extremely interesting class of data structures, yet consistently only reaching variants of "fraud." (And, those people who just jump immediately to fraud without much thinking.)
The problem is that people find it easy to jump to "money-laundering! beanie-babies!" and not spend the time thinking about what they might want to do with the tech. Strikes me as a bit curmudgeonly versus the optimistic, open-minded and innovative roots of HN...
Yes, it's absolutely someone else's database, if not even worse.
I'm sure there are open standards in the formats of NFTs that make them less proprietary, but sticking to these is optional, rather than necessitated by participation like the ledger is.
Perhaps an analogy... this is an "I got the vaccine" sticker, not a vaccination record. It's publicly visible, yes, and you can check that the sticker looks like it's supposed to, but as a proof of vaccination it's pretty weak as anyone can create them and hand them out on their own terms.
You'd run a bot or similar on Discord that would grant you a role to access the channel and it would use your wallet to verify your identity (ala public key crypto) and the ownership of the NFT by your wallet to verify the permission to join.
Most of the time you're a centralized thing anyway in this case so the NFTs don't really add much (unless you want users to be able to trade access) even if you wanted to take payment via crypto-currencies.
You don't own the thing you think you do.
It’s clearly just a joke gift. I’m sure nobody is actually confused that they’ve really bought some legal right.
It’s like criticising a ‘kiss me quick’ t-shirt by asking if people realise the t-shirt actually has no legal power to compete people to kiss you. They already know. It’s a joke.
Same with NFTs. It’s clearly a bit of a game and joke - I don’t think anyone is actually being scammed by it.
I feel like people are working so hard to not see the joke.
Except people are getting scammed out of large amounts of money.
For example the Evolved Ape scam that broke last week. Or artists that have their work minted and sold without permission. People pumping the value of their assets through wash trading. And so on.
I can sell you stars on paper too. Exactly the same. It all depends on the underlying agreements.
Technological solutions to what are fundamentally social problems don't typically work out.
With how most NFTs are implemented you need to have trust in the blockchain it self, in the implementation of the smart contract, in the server hosting the referenced metadata URL, and the server hosting the actual digital asset the NFT represents. If trust in any one of these is misplaced it can undermine the trust placed in the others.
The blockchain can not provide more trust than the least trustworthy part of the rest of the NFT chain. Since the URL referenced in the blockchain is likely stored in some single organization's SQL database, the maximum trustworthiness of an NFT is never going to be larger than the trustworthiness of that SQL database.
There's nothing silly about "selling a JPG". Billions of dollars are spent annually on digital copies of photos. People pay for (high) resolution and rights.
Selling an NFT is usually "selling an NFT", not even "selling a JPG". Most of the time the NFT just points to a piece of digital media accessible to anyone, and it conveys no rights of ownership or use of that digital media.
Or very surprisingly any guarantee that the media pointed to is immutable or won't disappear.
When you buy a piece of art, you own the piece of art.
When you buy an NFT, you own a row in a fundamentally meaningless database that points to some image on the internet. The database has no value, no one recognizes it, you don't own the image.
There is a fundamental difference there.
They already redid the million dollars home page, NFT edition.
I predict this will calm down once the Ponzi-era fades out (whenever central banks finally decide to tapper), but it's still always going to be a problem which we need to find solutions to.
I am sure there can be people that pay for database entry and are happy with their purchase.
Compare with stamps, I see some people talk about making a quick buck on stamps but also a lot of people talking about their stamp collections. There is a huge difference here, the nft case you see 99% scum and 1% calling out the rest of them as scum, and not a single enthusiast who cares about the NFT. Stamps I see mostly enthusiasts and a few scum posts.
So until you can find me all these "enthusiast NFT collectors", I'll assume that they don't exist. They could exist in theory, but I have seen no evidence that a single NFT collector actually exists in this world.
User interviews seem to go like this:
Us: Why did you bid on this NFT [for upper six figures]
Them: I liked it.
Or just take a look at most of this guy's tweets:
But at least you are a data point, now I have seen one person claiming to buy NFT's to keep rather than resell, even if I don't necessarily trust you. So thanks!
Do you invite dates in to see your NFT collection? Do you occasionally open it up to admire the hash values? Do you enjoy posting on forums telling people you own NFTs? something else …?
Moreover, most of the big NFT investors seem to have a long history and as far as I can tell are often just collectors who are already rich from crypto.
Eg. from a week ago: https://portswigger.net/daily-swig/founder-of-bitcoin-money-...
So let's assume the law supports linking NTF's to copyright ownership. What would be the scammy part then?
The family of "Charlie Bit My Finger" sold that video through an NFT. So I wonder if the family would still use that video, and the NFT owner would sue them... who would win. I would actually think the NFT owner.
My point was, if the media rights could really be tied to the NFT rather than the auction contract then you would have something of value, but right now it would just be "Here is an action for media rights. Oh and btw here is also an unrelated hash you get with the purchase". As is for the media rights to go with the NFT you'd need to write a similar contract for every trade. At which point the NFT is totally superfluous, why not just write normal contracts skipping the NFT?
-- it has no use
-- it is used by criminals