Drinking coffee and thinking about NFTs. Exploding in 2021, hitting all-time highs, making headlines, causing uproars all over the media, and confusing populations. Who would have thought that a little bit of software would drive all these mother fuckers nuts? Is it because they seem like scams since digital art is clearly not valuable? All you have to do is screenshot it or right-click and save, right? Without a doubt, they’re here and not going anywhere. What are these things, and what’s the future of NFTs have in store?
The simplest way I’ve explained NFTs was by comparing a plastic container full of potato salad to the concept. I pointed out that the plastic container was just that, a container. Inside of it was potato salad. That potato salad could be anything. If I had the same potato salad and traded it, that would be an exchange of fungible goods. If I asked for the toaster instead, and in return, I gave my potato salad and a box of coffee, that transfer of goods would be non-fungible. We both had a set of unique items. We both decided that our things were of similar value; we traded and carried on.
NFTs are containers that hold unique sets of data that point to a location with information about the asset contained in the container. Capisce?
A brief history of NFTs
In moving on, we need to understand something, and that is this, NFTs are not new. They’re also not JPEGs and PNGs. The underlying concepts originated in 1993. Evolving and aligning closer to what we know today. In 2014 “Quantum” was technically one of the first NFTs minted on the Namecoin blockchain. It wasn’t until 2017, when CryptoPunks was actually minted, people started to notice non-fungible tokens. This group was a tiny subset that still controls the market today.
The nerds of computer-land. 👋.
To date, there has been a shitload of investments and formations of companies around the concept of a non-fungible item, but non-fungible items have and are more present in our lives than we realize. A domain name is a non-fungible item. NFTs have been omnipresent in gaming and collectible communities and loyalty programs with rewards. They’re not new; they’re not art. The future of NFTs is an idea around a trustless and decentralized individual economy.
The current state of NFTs
NFTs truthfully kicked off when crypto trading cards or colored coins were mentioned. They took shape in 2014 when two dudes decided to develop a “monetized graphics” system. Further advancement arose in 2017. At that time, a lot more innovation came to the space. More people were flocking to the Ethereum blockchain, and many opportunities for people to begin building dApps or decentralized applications arose.
With the onset of decentralization, worlds of possibilities opened up. Now more accessible and faster for ideas to come to light and a community to rally behind them, the future of NFTs was starting to look bright. Old and new technologies were applied to existing ones due to permissionless development and they ability to build on top of them, block by block. Much of what we’re using today was designed and developed then.
Presently NFTs are all over the news and media. What once was a few whitepapers and some early attempts is now a massive growing ecosystem. Made up of multiple layers at the bottom, we have layer 1 infrastructures. Like a lasagna layer by layer, it has grown to encapsulate industries spanning side-chain hosts, storage solutions, verticals and applications, finacialization, aggregators, and front-ends.
There is a healthy online community dedicated to the opposition and position for NFTs, with creators creating content and artists making art. Investors and Financiers pump the money into the space left and right while millions are being made from flips and trades. The current state of NFTs is like the California gold rush; some will make it. Most won’t, but new titans will be born.
Example uses cases of NFTs
2020 and 2021 was the year of NFTs, art, and collectibles. When you asked someone about them, they’d probably scoff or be enthralled. Like the ocean, though, there’s a current under the surface. Deep in the depths there is a lot more going on. Generating their origins with collectibles and gaming, they’re now expanding beyond as more and more realize the possibilities of what can be done.
A few use cases for NFTs are:
- Collectible trading cards with varying attributes and properties create scarce and desirable assets that get pumped by hype. Typically they’re limited in numbers to help drive that hype.
- Art was one of the first examples of using technology but a bad one if you ask me. Things like digital art, music, and video were now gaining a market.
- Gaming has long been a supporter and probably the most notable for NFT adoption; in-game assets are NFTs. That gun you got in Call of Duty … yep, you guessed it, hater, NFT.
- Sports teams have adopted NFTs to further engage fans by giving them a more significant opportunity to be part of their club. They’re also building really cool and unique projects around collectibles and fandom. Fan tokens being one.
- Metaverse, not the shitty Facebook company, a network of virtual environments, has been a big adopter of NFTs, letting creators and developers build whole new worlds. I.e., Snoop-a-loop’s.
- Utility has been away for NFTs to add further value to the token and give purchasers more for their money. Utility spans several use cases and is being adopted by many different companies.
In looking at how they are being applied today, I can’t help but think that very shortly, a lot of people are going to flock to the industry as they’re probably also see
The future of NFTs?
It’s hard to say what’s in store for the future of NFTs. I’ve got no insider information from any wealthy elite to make an accurate statement. I will, however, make some guesses that are not financial advice.
Collectibles, gaming, and enterprise use cases are slowly beginning to adopt. However, the space is riddled with terrible user experiences. As someone who works in technology, it was even difficult for me in some cases to get up and running with crypto.
The first thing that I think should be addressed is how we make this better? I know product designers or user experience designers like myself involved in NFTs and crypto technology. How can we band together and begin forming a union?
How can we get involved in projects and help out? Without the adoption of less technically inclined users, this space will be slow to mature. Slow and steady wins the race; sometimes, momentum is necessary to keep inertia moving forward. If we tackle some of these problems and begin to bring enterprise-grade design into an innovative space, we can shape the technology applications ahead.
I see many people offering NFT consulting services and companies beginning to shape around helping others create blockchain projects. With this happening, we will need more design professionals to ensure that things are done correctly from the jump. This is an early industry; please, for the love of God, don’t make a mess of it with greed.
Please, by all means, operate freely in a capital-driven market but do so responsibly by referring to my previous cries for an improved user experience and lower barrier to entry.
I really see NFTs taking off in enterprise spaces.
Ultimately the drivers for legislation, thus resulting in a loss of decentralization, but we knew that already.
We know that markets are simply a physical interpretation of Plato’s theory on mimetism. Once companies figure this shit out, and I will help, we’ll start to see real innovation in areas like adoption, security, interoperability, scalability, transaction speed, and so forth. I also see companies pushing the boundaries of SFTs.
When we understand the root of what we’re dealing with, we can begin to make our own thoughts about what it is we’re facing. Many things are happening in NFTs from art, music, video, real estate, licensing, logistics, eCommerce, trade, finance, and gaming. There are many ways that companies can take the idea of an “in-game” economy and apply it to their organization, thus driving further engagement and brand loyalty.
Therefore when I think of the future of NFTs, I think of a time where people like you and I can become the Flagler’s, Ford’s, Rockefeller’s, and Carnegie’s of this generation. We can be the catalysts for change if we decide.
Need help with smart contracts or NFT collections?
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