Why You Should Care About NFTs
In the midst of the collectible boom last summer, I sent my dad to the attic of our 19th century farmhouse in search of my Pokémon cards.
Are you envisioning a dark spooky place with cobwebs, dust, and tiny creatures?
Now you know why my dad didn't want to go.
But he's a good dad - so he gave in. I watched as he pulled down the attic stairs and braved perhaps the most unceremonious trip back into time.
Behind the old trophies, beyond the high school yearbooks, and under the boxes filled to the brim with your favorite 80s and 90s sports stars, he found a formerly very shiny red binder.
I caught 'em all.
Nostalgia flooded over me, providing flashbacks of days I spent obsessively evaluating, trading, and masterfully adding to my collection. Now, finally, all these years later, the hours I spent pouring over my card collection would all be worth it. I was certain.
But as I wiped dust off the front cover and thumbed through the first few flimsy plastic pages, I was hit with an unfortunate reality.
What I thought was a prolific, pristine collection was actually far from it.
Much to my dismay, the relentless trading of grubby handed pre-teens coupled with 20 years of storage in dust and dirt rendered my cards essentially worthless.
Dings, dents, cracks, fading - Murphy's Law - for fragile pieces of paper.
I'm not alone.
Have you ever seen an episode of Pawn Stars?
Hundreds of hobbyists, collectors, investors, and speculators muster the courage to showcase their prized possessions. With the care typically only afforded newborns, they tiptoe to the counter and with a smile wreaking of confidence, they remove the veil.
It doesn't take long for their excitement to fade.
Whatever it is, a toy, a card, a painting, antique memorabilia...it doesn't matter. For one reason or another, it can't be resold and the value they've attached to this object in their head... it's not real.
It has too many dings, too many dents, too many scratches...too little value.
Sent trekking back to their homes, they can only mutter under their breath...
If only I would have stored it better...
If only I would have verified it's authenticity before purchase...
If only the delivery guy had heeded the "Fragile" warning...
If only I had known it wasn't rare…
The list goes on.
Collecting things is hard.
But...it doesn't have to be that hard.
In fact, in the burgeoning world of digital collecting, better collecting could be only a few clicks away.
In many ways digital collecting, particularly through non-fungible tokens (NFTs), is providing an alluring alternative to physical collecting.
As unique digital assets, NFTs allow collectors to circumvent some of the most common issues that plague collectors in "real life" - verifiable scarcity, authenticity, and shoddy bubble-wrapped packages, all thanks to blockchains and other emerging technologies.
It would be easy to get lost in or frightened by the technical details and underpinnings of the NFT economy. And I am neither smart enough nor convinced that it matters enough to try and explain it to you.
It's unlikely that you care about ERC-721 or ERC-1155. You probably don't care about your NFTs living all on-chain. I don't think I do...yet.
Eventually the finer print will become important, but before I unleash you to become more expert than me..I'd like to leave you with some revisionist history.
What if my rather illustrious collection from second grade was digital...
What if I could have transacted seamlessly, without deterioration from the slimy, sweaty hands of multiple second graders?
What if I could have left them securely stored, unaffected by dust and dirt for the last 20 years?
What if I could have verified their scarcity?
What if I could have showed off my collection without carrying around a big red binder?
What if I could have unlocked the utility of the cards without slamming them down on a table full of chips and soda?
Now tell me...is that a world you'd collect in?
Ready to buy your first NFT, but not sure where to get started?