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NFTs and the Technology Behind Them

Aurora, IL
NFT, crypto, tech, blockchain, technology, STEM, steme, math, science, graphic design, non-fungible token, technology of NFTs
NFTs from the Bored Ape Yacht Club collection, often selling for grand sums of money

Recently, NFTs have been receiving lots of publicity as well as controversy for their novelty and unique nature. An NFT is any type of digital media that can be bought and sold between people. These transactions are recorded on a blockchain, which is most notably used in a similar way for cryptocurrency. Despite being somewhat difficult to grasp, as NFTs gain more popularity, it may become crucial to understand this novel idea to possibly make a quick buck or even a fortune as some already have.

First, if you want to understand what an NFT is, you have to understand blockchain. A blockchain is a digital ledger of sorts; that is, it is a database that contains details of transactions being made concerning a certain cryptocurrency. Most NFTs use the Ethereum blockchain to record any transactions between users. An NFT’s name, standing for non-fungible token, means that it is one of a kind and cannot be replaced by something else. This is in contrast to crypto, like Bitcoin or Ethereum, because you can trade one coin for another and essentially have the same thing. Usually, NFTs can be anything digitally represented, but most commonly they are online works of art. In this way, NFTs are similar to fine art, except most do not consider NFT artworks to be on the same level as a work of Monet or Van Gogh. This is where NFTs get somewhat problematic; since art is subjective, it is hard to imagine for most that a certain piece would be worth the price it sold for.

This is where yet another problem comes in: being mostly digital images and videos, NFTs can be downloaded or copied an infinite number of times by anyone on the internet. This destroys the entire purpose of the artwork being one of a kind. Whereas fine art is tangible and one person can realistically have ownership of it, virtually anyone can download and therefore have possession of an NFT. This aspect of an NFT has stirred lots of controversies in popular media. Some criticize it, citing that such items are ridiculous and should have no value. Others praise the idea, saying that it supports up-and-coming digital artists who may not have another place to sell their artwork.

NFT, crypto, tech, blockchain, technology, STEM, steme, math, science, graphic design, non-fungible token, technology of NFTs
Beeple's artwork known as "Everydays: The First 5000 Days" that sold for over $69 million

Popular memes, images, and videos have already been sold as NFTs. For example, the famous Nyan Cat meme created by Chris Torres sold for a whopping $580,000 just last year. The popular YouTube video with over 800 million views known as “Charlie Bit My Finger” sold for $760,999. The original video has since been deleted from YouTube, although many copies still remain on the platform. A tweet made by the founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, recently sold for under $3 million. And to put the cherry on top, an image made by Mike Winkelmann, otherwise known as Beeple, sold for $69 million. This made Beeple, now a famous digital artist, one of the most valuable living artists ever. The image, a collage containing 5000 separate artworks, was sold on Christie’s, a popular auction house that usually auctions off fine art.

NFTs may have an important role to play in the future as well. In a “metaverse”, where people can virtually interact with each other and the environment in an online reality, NFTs could be bought and sold on an online marketplace that would replace our real world one. For example, online clothes could be sold as NFTs in the metaverse. No matter your stance on an NFT’s value or its authenticity, they’re surely interesting ideas and will only get more popular with time.

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