Help! I Don’t Understand NFTs: What Are Non-Fungible Tokens

what are non-fungible tokens

First of all, don’t worry. You’re not alone and this could very well be something you won’t hear about for very long. Looking at you CryptoKitties. There is yet another blockchain trend poking its head into the feeds of the general public. This particular buzzing term is Non-fungible Tokens or NFTs. Here’s what they are and why they’re probably going to disappear pretty quick.

What Are Non-Fungible Tokens Or NFTs?

Non-fungible tokens are basically unique tokens which represent a digital asset. The name means that it can’t be replaced with something else. It’s unique. Take the Mona Lisa. That’s non-fungible. If I own the original Mona Lisa and sell it, I no longer have it. I might have a copy or a re-print, but the one from Da Vinci’s brush is gone.

Non-fungible tokens are trying to achieve the same level of uniqueness in a digital world. Unlike art, NFTs a little less “real” in that they represent digital assets. If you’ve seen Ready Player Two, you might already have a feel for what this is like and why it could be important for the future. NFTs can be absolutely anything. Your picture online could be an NFT. A tweet you’ve sent in the past could be an NFT or even a voice recording uploaded online. The NFT itself is just a token that points towards the digital asset. And here is the big problem.

What’s The Point Of NFTs?

NFTs are an imperfect solution to a real problem. Actually, they’re a pretty awful solution to a problem. If someone uploads a piece of art to the web, generates an NFT and then sells that NFT, I can still go to where that piece of art sits and download it. NFTs provide little more than a sense of ownership in a digital world, as opposed to real ownership that you would get when buying physical item.

One of the highest profile items up for grabs as an NFT was Jack Dorsey’s, founder of Twitter, first tweet. That’s gone for a very real $2.5 million. But here you go, you can have it for free.

What happens if Jack deletes that Tweet? What happens if I sell a voice file and then delete it? What happens if I create 50 of the same voice file and sell them as unique? It’s all well and good saying the hi-res image online belongs to me, as long as it exists at all.

Some claim that NFTs prove society respects artists, but torrents say otherwise. Whether I own the NFT for a movie or just download the pirated copy, I’ve consumed and enjoyed. I’m finito.

NFTs feel like they’re close to solving a massive problem, but the more you scratch the surface you realise it’s Whistler’s Mother from the gift shop we’re looking at here. These are peak online notions.

With that said, if you think too long about currency, you’ll end up in a panic too. At the end of the day, we all just agree that specific pieces of paper are worth €20.

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Founding Editor of Goosed, Marty is a massive fan of tech making life easier. You'll often find him testing something new, brewing beer or finding some new foodie spots in Dublin, Ireland. - Find me on Threads