Decompressing from the days work, before approaching the subject of what's for dinner, you consume a brief moment of scanning the popular media offerings to come across a mention of CryptoPunks. Or, blurry eyed you enter the local cafe at the crack of dawn to anxiously recieve your daily dose of adrenaline and faintly encounter chatter of Bored Ape Yacht Club. No matter the rhyme or reason chances are NFTs have crossed your path and you've made a quick decision to take the pill or dismiss as a fad.
It's a JPG, it's a piece of art, it's a collectible - honestly, at this point in the lifecycle of NFTs to each their own. You're either early and willing to put in the effort to dig deeper or you're ngmi.
Before peeling back the layers lets quickly understand two things about NFTs:
- You can not copy/paste an NFT - these are tokenized and secured to a blockchain where NO ONE can modify the record of ownership or duplicate into existence.
- People want NFTs - Three days prior to this article Coinbase announced a new NFT Marketplace and the waitlist has already surpassed 2 million. (Referral shared in link)
Currently we're several steps, and a few leaps, down the path towards complete user empowerment and ownership of data on a more inclusive and open internet. Let's review where NFTs fall in line before we unlock where they'll take us next.
Bitcoin > DeFi > NFTs > DAOs > DIDs
Bitcoin introduced to us self custody of our monetary system, Decentralized Finance (DeFi) rattled the world of finance, Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) placed content creators on a pedestal, Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) blew open the doors of governance, and Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) will be the hinge pin to identity on Web3.
What's the secret sauce of NFTs?
Answer: Exclusive access to Web3.
Let me explain by example...
No one enjoys creating a new username and login for every application, right? We are also fed up with relying on Google or Facebook to control this critical life blood of existing online, right? OK.
So, you begin by obtaining a DID as mentioned above. This provides 1 digital identity for you, created by you, and leaves 100% of control in your hands.
Next, you set up a wallet that can be accessed by your DID secret words. This holds your identity, digital money, NFTs, and more.
Following these two basic, yet fundamental, steps you're now free to explore all Web3 has to offer. Don't be afraid, think of it as everything you're used to online minus the threat of very powerful companies using all their might to control your screen time and influence your behavior.
In this new digital world all the power is in your hands. So, let's explore.
NFTs sound cool so you decide to hop over to OpenSea and see what all the buzz is about. You eye a couple NFTs you like, you decide to purchase one or two, and you begin to feel butterflies as sense of something bigger sprouts.
You jump back on Twitter and see verified NFT avatars with similar images. Each of them are using the hashtag #ApeFollowApe.
Excited you follow suit, gain a few followers, and still feel like you're part of a community, but something is missing...
Here's where Web3 gets good.
Your NFT! That unique code generated to the blockchain behind that simple JPG antagonists claim can easily be copied and pasted is the key. You own that, it's in your wallet, it's linked to your DID, it's the golden ticket.
You quickly find out Bored Ape Yacht Club actually has an exclusive page on the Web3 platform Profile.site where admission is only granted by proving you hold an ape NFT. But, will it be hard to get in? Absolutely not! Slide right in using your wallet and let the code do the work.
Got the NFT? Your in. Got a copy of the NFT image? Access denied.
Inside it's bananas! For once in your life you are confidently part of a community that is authentic and verified. Cool stuff is happening all over. Poking around you realize the community DAO just passed a proposal to feed the hungry, and another suggestion is up to fund a team to build an app that will make all your lives easier. You check your wallet and notice you're getting paid! Without knowing, your NFT is part of a DeFi pool that's earning you money. WTF.
Is this what the Internet was supposed to feel like all along?
Unfortunately, we aren't quite there yet - This is only an example of what's to come as we look beyond NFTs. On the bright side NFTs are here, wallets are readily available, DIDs can be created in an instant, and nearly all of the puzzle pieces described are out there.
Now it's up to the builders to keep building, and the users to keep using.