Gault and Pearson explain the meme:
what is the “right-clicker mentality”? Quite literally, it is referring to one’s ability to right-click on any image they see online to bring up a menu and select the “save” option in order to save a copy of the image to their device. In this term we have a microcosm of the entire philosophical debate surrounding NFTs.I join in below the fold.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are unique tokens on the blockchain ostensibly representing a receipt of ownership pointing to some (usually) digital thing, like a JPEG hosted on a server somewhere. To be an NFT collector is to philosophically buy into the idea that owning this string of numbers means you “own” a JPEG that lesser people simply right-click to save on their machines at any time.I wrote in NFTs and Web Archiving about the tenuous relationship between an NFT and the thing it purports to "own":
the purchaser of an NFT is buying a supposedly immutable, non-fungible object that points to a URI pointing to another URI. In practice both are typically URLs. The token provides no assurance that either of these links resolves to content, or that the content they resolve to at any later time is what the purchaser believed at the time of purchase. There is no guarantee that the creator of the NFT had any copyright in, or other rights to, the content to which either of the links resolves at any particular time.Gault and Pearson are less technical:
NFTs only hold value because everyone owning them and trading them agrees they hold value.Cory Doctorow is more direct:
To right-clickers, the blockchain ledger where their receipt resides is a comforting technological myth that NFT owners point to to legitimate their claims of ownership of a JPEG. It’s a kind of slacktivism, a way to address the problem without risking anything. Right-clicking a JPEG, saving it, and displaying it back to the NFT owner is a way to point out the Emperor has no clothes. Meanwhile, the NFT fans make millions off their naked Emperor.
The creators of NFTs envisioned them as a kind of bragging right that described the relationship between a creator and a member of their audience. When you paid for an NFT, you recorded the fact that you had made a donation to the artist that was inspired by a specific work. That fact was indelibly recorded in a public ledger – the blockchain – so everyone could see it.
Instantly, the idea of supporting artists with NFTs was converted into a financial bubble. The point of an NFT wasn't to support an artist – it was to acquire a tradeable asset that would go up in value because the buyer thought they could unload it for even more.
A scramble of bids forced the winner, who went by the alias @9x9x9, to make an offer of 99.9 ether—around $420,000. The proceeds, net of fees, taxes and transaction costs, will be donated to The Economist Educational Foundation, an independent charity we support.It was in a good cause, so that's all good clean fun. But, on reflection, The Economist had three takeaways. First:
Despite the slick interface of NFT platforms, the process is a nightmare. It includes setting up a digital wallet, funding it to pay any fees associated with creating an NFT, creating the token and finding a way to convert the proceeds into conventional money in a bank account. For most legal and tax advisers this is all virgin territory. The process is expensive: we paid “gas”, a fancy word for fees, and other levies. In order to become mainstream, applications in decentralised finance will have to be as easy to use as an iPhone and cheaper than dealing with conventional financial intermediaries.
|BTC transaction fees|
CryptoKitties average "price" per transaction spiked 465% between November 28 and December 12 as the game got popular, a major reason why it stopped being popular. The same phenomenon happened during Bitcoin's price spike around the same time.The second problem is energy:
Our modest experiment created as many emissions as a seat on a long-haul flight. Most platforms are exploring how to lower their energy use. If NFTs are to be the Next Big Thing, they must innovate their way towards a carbon-neutral footprint.NFTs use the Ethereum blockchain. As I explain in Alternatives To Proof-of-Work:
Ethereum, the second most important cryptocurrency, understood the need to replace PoW in 2013 and started work in 2014.
Skepticism about the schedule for ETH2 is well-warranted, as Julia Magas writes in When will Ethereum 2.0 fully launch? Roadmap promises speed, but history says otherwise:
Looking at how fast the relevant updates were implemented in the previous versions of Ethereum roadmaps, it turns out that the planned and real release dates are about a year apart, at the very minimum.
A third concern is contract enforcement. We hope that this will not be an issue for our token, because the asset—a unique digital representation of a cover image already in wide circulation—will be used within decentralised finance, and there is no obvious incentive to misuse it. But for NFTs that refer to assets outside this self-contained world, such as a patent or a building, the property rights conferred by the NFT may conflict with other contracts, and courts may not recognise the digital agreement.I'm with Cory Doctorow when he he writes:
NFTs, which have blown up into a massive, fraud-ridden speculative bubble that is blazing through whole rain-forests' worth of carbon while transfering billions from suckers to con-artists. A bezzle, in other words.