Jack Rusher Explains NFT’s in a Way That Actually Makes Sense

Jack Rusher, “What Does It Mean to Buy a GIF”:

Photographic prints can be reproduced in unlimited quantities, but artists’ signatures cannot. This led to a situation where the market for art split in two, one fork for collectors and one for those only interested in the work as an experience. I would argue that this is good for everyone. Artists gained a way to sell work that would otherwise be reduced to a commodity, collectors gained access to a new and culturally vital art form, and great works of art became available to everyone at very close to the marginal cost of reproduction. […]

When viewed in this light, the nature of NFTs becomes quite clear. An NFT is a mechanism by which an artist can publicly attach their cryptographic signature to a digital work of art. In other words, it is a technology that supports in the context of digital arts the same kinds of signed editions that have existed in fine art photography for most of a century.

To say this explanation made a lightbulb turn on in my head is an understatement. NFTs are the digital equivalent of a signed copy of a photograph. You can copy the art losslessly, but you can’t copy the signature, and that signature has value to some collectors.

I’m still unconvinced that the NFTs — especially as currently implemented — aren’t a scam, and I remain firmly convinced that this initial bubble is a Ponzi scheme of sorts, but I at least have a feel for the basic idea why anyone might spend some money on one.

Friday, 26 March 2021