Demystifying NFTs — The Future Of Art Is NEAR
If you’ve made it to this post, congratulations — you’re at the start of a very exciting journey into the world of digital art, and I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to be intimidated. As you continue, you’ll be learning lots of new things, but you don’t need to be a techno-genius to get a solid understanding of this new technology and incredibly exciting community. So let’s start, whether it’s the first thing you’re reading about NFTs or the twentieth.
First thing’s first, what is an NFT?
NFT stands for… get ready for it… Non-Fungible Token.
A what what what? NFT? More like, No-Freaking-Thanks. Stay with me, I promise it’s not that tricky. Non-fungible just means that not all pieces of art are the same. If I have seven paintings in my house, I don’t have 7ART. It’s not like US Dollars or Euros where any $7 is the same as any $7. Each piece of art in my house is unique. I have a special attachment to each. Each one came from a different place, a different artist, and probably has a very different story. The value I place on each one is different. This one was from that vacation, this one reminds me of home, that one was a gift from my partner. Oh, and these. Oh, these. These are all from my kid’s middle school years. I love these.
Well, the same goes for these digital ‘Tokens’. I can’t put all of my digital art pieces, songs, event tickets, and unlockable in-game gear into one big pile. If someone wants to buy a piece from my collection, I can’t just give them something else that’s worth 7ART. They want this unique piece. So, as you keep reading, feel free to substitute the word ‘NFT’ for ‘Digital Art Piece,’ or ‘Digital Album,’ or ‘Digital Ticket,’ etc.
How can a digital copy of something be ‘unique’?
Well, this is where the magic of blockchain comes in, and again, I promise it’s not scary magic. What makes blockchains so safe is that it needs consensus in order to operate properly. Imagine a whole room full of people witnessing the creation, sale, and exchange of a piece of art you make. It’s like having dozens of notaries present every step of the way. “Does everyone here agree that THIS ARTIST made THIS PIECE at THIS TIME, and sold it to THIS PERSON for THIS MUCH?” If a majority of the network does not agree, then the transaction won’t happen.
When you make an NFT, the history of all of this data is logged and made public. This means you can check, I can check, and Grandma Rose can check (with a little assistance). If someone else tries to take credit for your art by forging, copying, or stealing it, their forged copy won’t have your digital fingerprint. It won’t have come from you, and everyone on the network will be able to see that. If I try to print out a .jpeg of the Mona Lisa and sell it to you for $50 million, or heck, even $5, and claim that it’s an ‘original,’ you’d see right through it. With the blockchain, this transparency is easily provable and verifiable by anyone and everyone.
What’s great about these emerging technologies, and the NEAR blockchain, in particular, is that you don’t need to know the fine details about how it works to use it! Think about it like a translation app — you type in your language, and someone else gets to read it in their language. Being able to speak another language takes a long time, and it’s worth it, but the technology is here to help us until we’re at that level. Knowing how blockchain works will only make your appreciation that much deeper, but it’s not necessary to get started. This article is focused on only the basics, so I won’t be going into depth about how these networks operate or how to write the code to interact with it, but there are plenty of resources out there as you progress.
What can I do with NFTs?
As mentioned above, NFTs can be used for everything from digital paintings, animations, videos, music, games, in-game content, tickets and proof-of-attendance for events, and so much more. With existing projects such as Mintbase, Paras, and ARterra, there is a lot to be excited about already, and much more to come.
Make your own store on Mintbase:
Unlike many of the predecessors on Ethereum, Mintbase is unique in that they help you to build your own store by deploying what’s called a ‘smart contract’ for you to put all of your NFTs into. Unlike sites such as Rarible, Known Origin, SuperRare, NiftyGateway, and others, this means that all of the pieces you make will be consolidated into one place that you have control over. This is not trivial. While these other platforms control how your pieces are created, Mintbase allows creators to decide on, design, and develop the custom features of their stores. It allows you to build your own business model.
“Mintbase enables creators to launch their own [platform] — it’s a better approach to enforcing royalties and experimenting with permissions [and] controls.” -James, NEAR Education Guild
One of the other incredibly exciting things about this platform is that in being the first platform of its kind of the NEAR blockchain, it is the only place where an artist can create new works at a reasonable rate. Creating art anywhere on the Ethereum blockchain will cost you at best $2.50 per piece and, at worst, more than $20. You don’t need me to tell you why that is untenable. With transactions that are literally 10,000+ times cheaper, NEAR enables artists to mint all the art they will create in ten years for the price of one piece on Ethereum. Unless you want to sit on your hands for the next year and a half while ETH 2.0 develops, Mintbase looks to be the best option from my perspective, and they will be launching NEAR Testnet in early 2021.
Set up your first storefront: http://mintbase.io
Collect and trade unique Art Cards on Paras:
Paras officially launched on December 8th, making it the first art-card trading platform in the NEAR ecosystem. With new artists every week, Paras is the place to make, collect, and trade one-of-a-kind or multi-copy cards with provable scarcity.
Do you love collecting trading cards? Have an idea for a playable, digital card game? Do you enjoy some of the classics like MTG, Pokemon, Yugioh, Hearthstone and want to find the next exciting system? Maybe you want to make a unique tarot deck or a special commemorative set for an event or community. All this is possible and more on this curated marketplace.
Check out Paras here: https://paras.id/
Engage with your favorite franchises on ARterra:
If you watch professional sports or eSports, ARterra is a very exciting up-and-coming project that will make engaging with your favorite teams, streamers, and pro players that much more dynamic. By creating a platform that franchises can easily build out from, fans will be able to collect a wide range of interactive digital items. ARterra wants to bring augmented reality experiences down to Earth and make it easy for your favorite teams and organizations to develop fascinating immersive experiences. With possible functionalities such as merch stores, specialty live-streaming, PokemonGo-style games, proof-of-event-attendance unlockables, and more, ARterra can help franchises build unique experiences and valuable new ways of engagement with their dedicated fans and communities.
This is something that is only possible with the scalability brought to the space by the NEAR blockchain. As a franchise, you don’t need to learn the blockchain to start building Apps that utilize the tokenized, digital scarcity that comes from NFTs. You can just start building, confident that the inherent transaction fees on the network are viable for a business of any size.
Read more about ARterra here: https://medium.com/arterra-engagement/introducing-the-arterra-platform-fe551a99037b
If you want to learn about the history of NFTs and the details of the technology on a significantly deeper level, check out the NFT Bible.