Seth Godin on the danger of NFTs

Originally published at: Seth Godin on the danger of NFTs | Boing Boing


Good thing there isn’t anything else like that in the world.


so basically like the art world except burns the earth more


unable to walk away?

I’m walking away, RIGHT NOW!


A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. Unless you actually like the art and want to buy and keep it.


So… basically beanie babies once they got out of the “I buy them because they’re cheap, and my wee kiddo loves to play with them” realm.


The idea of artists being continuously compensated for the trading value of their work is a good one. How do you attach that process to the actual artwork - not some digital token?

Perhaps artworks should have deeds similar to land, where deed conditions and restrictions may be permanently attached to the ownership, such as compensation to the artist.


Well, this whole thing is likely to fall apart as soon as the servers holding the images attached to the first NFTs go offline, leaving a bunch of NFTs as digital certificates with links to artworks that are no longer there. It’s inevitable, and it’s going to be hilarious. Unfortunately, it’ll likely take long enough to be absolutely devastating, ecologically speaking, first.


That’s the only aspect of NFTs that appealed to me,. Of course agreeing to use the standard for it was treated like an afterthought by the exchanges (because who’s really more important, the artist or the person with money to buy art?).

A mechanism to kick back a little cash every time an artwork is sold is a good thing, but there’s no good reason it has to happen via a wasteful blockchain mechanism or involve cryptocurrency.

It’s worse than that.

Short version: forget the image/artwork going offline, the proof of ownership that’s really being purchased by the obsessive collector might also go offline. That’s because storage and maintenance of both are all dependent on the survival of the NFT exchanges. A quick look at the history of their cousins the cryptocurrency exchanges tells you everything about the kind of people who run these sites (crooks, incompetents, quick-buck chancers, etc.).

Anyhow, glad to see that BB’s romance with NFTs was a brief one.


It’s apparently already happening.


These darn NFTs. Why cant we just go back to selling art the old fashioned way, through secret auctions held for the hyper-wealthy where the art never leaves an environmentally-controlled shipping container in a country’s free trade zone and is never seen again outside of a catalogue.


It was only a matter of time before the bonded duty-free warehouse art world you describe and the world of cryptocurrency met and had a child out of their mutual love of money laundering and tax evasion.


Awrite, Seth. Whatcha gonna do about it? How are you going to make it possible for the broke-ass artists looking to NFTs as a new hope for a way to actually pay their bills with art, and a lottery ticket to “I don’t ever have to take any fuckin’ job I don’t wanna do, ever, in my entire life”, to still have some of that going on?

Because right now it looks like cryptocurrency is worth absurd amounts of value, and NFTs are a way for people who got lucky beyond their wildest dreams to take some of this absurd fake money and transfer it to artists who have not made it their entire career to court the existing gallery system’s paths for transferring money from over-rich assholes to broke-ass artists.

Seth’s net worth is about 50-60 million according to the Internet. Most artists are worth… rather less. I think that number probably puts him into the “over-rich asshole” category to me.

I’ve got a decent thing going with Patreon already but, y’know, I can see the appeal. I can also see the huge environmental cost of the things, and I’m not dabbling in them because of this, but… I can see the appeal. I can really see the appeal. I’m paying my rent without NFTs but I sure would be mightily tempted for some of the kind of payout Beeple got.

And in summation, Seth Godin should give me $2 million for bothering to listen to his opinions about how artists should conduct their affairs.


And their heirs and/or assignees in perpetuity, no doubt.


Taking responsibility for storage and maintenance away from the exchange startups and putting it in the hands of established auction houses might be a partial solution, assuming they’d be interested. Although then we’re probably back to the star-system gatekeeping you describe. Also, in that scenario the cryptocurrency requirement and probably the blockchain ownership ledger can be eliminated, defeating a large part of the purpose of NFTs.


Should Godin give everybody two million dollars, or just “artists”


Just me. Other people worth many many millions of dollars should give to other artists.


Supposedly there is an effort being made to move the Etherium blockchain (which NFTs live on) to something called “proof-of-stake” instead of the existing “proof-of-work”, aka “proof-of-turning-absurd-amounts-of-power-into-waste-heat”, but apparently there’s a coalition of miners threatening to fork the blockchain because this change will make them less money, and because capitalism is evidently well past the point of parody.

How do I get out of this third-rate Bruce Sterling novel that this century has become.


No guarantees of course, but simply visiting a grocery store seems to provide more and more opportunities for that exit every day. (To say nothing of eating so much of what’s in there!)