Note — May 30, 2021

The NFT Funhouse Mirror

First of two pieces I’m sharing from NOEMA magazine, this one by Samantha Culp. Blockchains, NFTs, DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations), to me those are all ideas that have some intriguing and promising concepts behind their inception. But also all ideas that are currently … underwhelmingly executed, either because of the execution itself, or because of the capitalist-cage-match vibe. Culp gives a clear-headed view of NFTs vs the existing art market vs the needs of artists vs energy needs and fossil fuels. Solid and accessible article to have in your toolkit to understand this field in coming years, and stick around for the spot-on and Mazzucatoesque conclusion on what we value.

Some believe they’re a holy grail for artists to support themselves, particularly the makers of hard-to-monetize digital work, and that they’ll democratize the elitist traditional art world. Others contend that they’re an aesthetically shallow and morally suspect bubble driven by the cynical agendas of cryptocurrency boosters, and that they emit disastrous levels of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. […]

In the end, it’s concerning to think that NFTs may not revolutionize the art world — a strange place that, for better or worse, has remained a bastion of mutant feudalism and quasi-religious economics in the midst of late capitalism — but could instead extend the reach of cold market logic into our everyday lives. […]

“How do we build sustainable, humane economic systems that allow all people to thrive and create?” If we are reinventing monetary systems and value itself, it should align better with what we actually “value.”

Further reading →Julian Bleecker seems to be roughly in the same camp as me with regards to “great concepts, waiting for the execution I’d be up for.” In A strange thing happened he lists 34 things about DAOs, full of 🤔 and “oooohhh, this could be good if only.” As well as this great paragraph on design fiction:

Design Fiction is meant to stretch the elastic membrane of our own ability to believe. Conversely, it is meant to help suspend our disbelief about change. With Design Fiction we push against the edge of the present, creating representations of a shape-shifted new present or, as I like to refer to it, near future. We show things that represent symptoms of that near future for reflection or because we want that near future in which such things exist, or we hope can be avoided.