cryptAngeles community gathering at Hangar 8 hosted by Kyle Schember and B Creative 

[photo: skidrowcrypto]

 

There’s a web3 social movement happening in Los Angeles, and if you haven’t observed — it’s not just about connecting your wallet; it’s about connecting people in search of belonging.

 

Among the many crypto communities forming across the globe, Los Angeles is best suited to become the most innovative, inspiring, and engaging of them all. This is because LA is arguably the most famous city in America that consistently attracts and retains the world’s top talent. With an abundance of sun, scenery, and nightlife, Los Angeles welcomes cultures, languages, and traditions from all over the world. Southern California is also home to some of the safest cities, and although California’s population is rising, its unemployment rate is falling. All of the state’s wealthiest communities are found in coastal areas where career opportunities abound, and almost half of the state’s billionaires come from tech.

 

 

Community development is essential to establish the foundation a city builds upon to improve the lives of those who show up, participate, and contribute. Community builders are working hard every day to introduce Angelenos to blockchain technology; its premise of sovereignty and empowerment, the potential to solve real-world problems, and the hope for equity and inclusion within its trustless code. Among the many influencers at the forefront of blockchain conversation both online and off, a growing number of web3 projects — onboarding initiatives, co-working, and co-living spaces, and social clubs, have been formed and founded for the purpose of uniting like minds to further indoctrinate, educate, and collaborate.

 

New Friendship Tech [photo: Preston Thalindroma]

 

According to Ben Spievak, co-founder of NEOREN.io, “Community is an organized group of people whose combined efforts build or achieve something great.” NEOREN (Neo-Renaissance) emphasizes health and wellness among its core values, which include higher consciousness and spirituality. “People in a community should genuinely care about each other as individuals to become friends, spend more time together, and help one another grow,” Spievak said. NEOREN carefully curates its members to assist artists and innovators by hosting exhibits and events that appeal to an audience of qualified collectors and investors. By hosting sober events in high-value locations like Beverly Hills and Malibu, NEOREN achieves a level of social sophistication that offers a much-needed alternative to the countless deejay-driven warehouse parties the crypto community is all-too-familiar with.

 

The biggest misunderstanding is what it takes to invest in a community; establish trust, and earn the trust of the people. The crypto community has experienced plenty of cash-grab projects and events by producers who would rather extract from the community than sustain its growth. Discerning the difference is remarkably intuitive; you can literally feel the disingenuous tone in the way such events are marketed; if the community feels adequately represented from the bottom up, and whether or not the cost of participation alienates the very people these events are supposed to benefit.

 

Eric ‘Motivate’ Spivak at New Friendship Tech [photo: Preston Thalindroma]

 

Relationships and rapport are everything,” says Eric ‘Motivate’ Spivak, co-founder of NFTs.tips. For more than a decade, Motivate has sharpened his instincts and honed his ability to allure Angelenos from the comfort of their homes, into their cars, and through daunting traffic to venues and stages across Southern California and beyond. Since 2010, his agency has produced over 500 events featuring thousands of performers in fashion, arts and music. Most recently, Motivate organized New Friendship Tech, a 3-day community alternative to NFT LA to welcome those who felt marginalized by happenings at the LA Convention Center. “I’ve always found myself dedicated to breaking down walls and shattering glass ceilings,” he said. Through participating sponsors like Harmony One, Giant Connect, ISA Group, Proof of Good DAO, and Nifter, Motivate eliminates economic barriers to entry and participation by making unique and original programming freely accessible for those who simply RSVP. Sponsorships make a big difference by adding value and reducing organizational costs; Urconduit leverages its ties to venues and its familiarity among vendors to form alliances that become the essential ingredients to facilitate successful events. “The opportunity to show people the way, or to expand their understanding and perspective, has always been extremely appealing to me,” Motivate said.

 

Gifdead [photo: skidrowcrypto]

 

When it comes to community building, Nifty Castle leads by example. Founded by multidisciplinary artists Gifdead and Woahboy, Nifty Castle is first and foremost a community of artists supporting each other. Having supported 1-of-1 artists like Henric Aryee over a year ago, to launching generative art collections like Deebies, and most recently the gender inclusive WitchyGF, the Nifty Castle community has exemplified consistent persistence and tireless tenacity. Gifdead and Woahboy never shy away from hard work; they rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty to build a durable and lasting community they’re both proud of. “Even though community is, by nature, a collective, it’s about establishing one-to-one relationships, and then scaling that, which doesn’t happen quickly,” Gifdead emphasized. In fact, it took 5 months for Deebies to sellout, and to the community’s benefit, the diligence required to convert passive observers into avid supporters one collector at a time built a zealous community and ecosystem that continues to grow and thrive. “Throwing good events is a lot of work,” he said. “It’s a grind, and it’s really taxing—especially when you have a small team like ours,” he added. Like Urconduit, Nifty Castle has been active and present in producing community-driven events parallel to major blockchain conferences in several cities. In addition to Gabe-A-Palooza in Los Angeles, Nifty Castle has hosted events around Art Basil Miami Beach, NFT NYC, and ETH Denver. “We’re out here doing this so the community has some cool spots where they can go hang out, meet each other, and create meaningful, memorable experiences,” Gifdead said.

 

Andreas Knüttel [photo: skidrowcrypto]

 

Vanity metrics will never supplant real community. There is strength in numbers, yet numbers often lie — ask anyone who develops and applies statistical and mathematical theories. Social ‘influence’ is often overemphasized when those who attempt to leverage it lack the contextual understanding of its portability to be effectively transferred. However, data can be analyzed and utilized to optimize communities, and organizers like Andreas Knüttel are utilizing its inherent value to inform groups and distribute shared resources. Known in cryptAngeles as a community overseer, Knüttel embodies Visa’s retired slogan, “…everywhere you want to be.” This is a fitting reference because, over the past 10 years, Knüttel has lived in Switzerland, California’s Sonoma Valley, Hawaii, and now cryptAngeles. His first blockchain experience was in 2016 when he earned $150 for posting to the social media/blogging platform Steemit. With more than a decade of experience managing data for social events, Knüttel is now uniquely positioned to direct local and international artists, collectors, web3 entrepreneurs, and investors with golden opportunities to dialogue among like minds.

 

Gabriel Paxton, CEO of NEOREN and Col. (Ret) Arnold V. Strong [photo credit: skidrowcrypto]

 

“People who view a growing community as a numbers game are making a mistake. It’s easy to run lead generation ads and grow the number of members in your Discord, but that’s useless. Community growth should happen naturally because the members truly love the experience they’re having and want to share it with their friends,” Ben Spievak said.

 

Both virtual and IRL communities require the same growth strategies to make them sustainable. “Like IRL events, virtual communities shouldn’t be perceived as a one-way marketing channel; it’s a space for community conversation. It’s a feedback loop and a symbiotic relationship,” says Gifdead. “To build the most valuable community, you’re not going to be relegated to online or IRL; you reach across as many different channels and venues as possible.”

 

Randy Levy, Gifdead and Kyle Schember [photo: skidrowcrypto]

 

“Online communities are very transactional — whereas real-world communities are more about the emotional and spiritual benefits,” Ben Spievak noted. “At NEOREN, we’re bridging the two by creating a token gated online community with real-world events and social gatherings, because, in web3, everyone can be friends. People get stuck in the idea that money is the goal. Happiness is the real goal,” he emphasized.

 

Welcome to cryptAngeles, where a web3 Neo-Renaissance is changing the way communities gather, interact and prosper. There’s a wealth of knowledge and an abundance of human capital to welcome your talents and embrace your ambition IRL.

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Popular NFT brand, Bored Ape Yacht Club, is in talks with venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, to lead a funding round of about $5 billion to raise their valuation, according to the Financial Times. The deal is still a work in progress as no terms have been agreed upon but will surely be one to watch out for.

 

Although BAYC has yet to comment on the negotiations officially, they have previously said they plan to create a strong brand and hand it over to the community. Another source, NFTNick.eth, told his Twitter followers that this would likely be huge for the NFT industry as it will validate the NFT business model if this deal comes to life and the news gets out.

 

Crypto companies generally utilize funding to expand their businesses and scale their operations globally. For example, back in 2013, When Coinbase was valued at $143 million, it received about $20 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz. It is currently valued at $86 billion. Even successful brands like BAYC require external funding to grow faster than what investments from their own profits can achieve. BAYC receiving VC funding will allow the brand to expand its business, and you will expect its valuation to increase in the future as the demand for BAYC NFTs continues to grow.

 

Bored Ape Yacht Club, a collection of 10,000 uniquely generated cartoon images of ape NFTs, went viral in 2021 even before prominent celebrities like Eminem, Stephen Curry, and Jimmy Fallon, amongst others, bought them. The frenzy does not end with merely acquiring a Bored Ape NFT, as ownership connects you to many celebrities and popular influencers who are members of this club. The number of celebrities ‘aping in’ is increasing every week.

 

Bored Ape NFTs, which were minted on the Ethereum blockchain, has recorded more than 393,000 in trading volume and have at least 6300 owners on OpenSea, with the lowest priced Bored Apes selling for about 18.5 ETH at the time of writing. Yuga labs, the team behind BAYC, has remained committed to growing the BAYC brand even further, and this potential deal with Andreessen Horowitz is a testament to their resolve.

 

 

Who is Andreessen Horowitz?

 

Andreessen Horowitz is an investment company based in Silicon Valley, California, founded by Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz in 2009, commonly known as A16z. The company has more than $28b in assets, with investments spanning from Crypto and Fintech to Healthcare.

 

A16z invests in companies across different stages of growth, from seed to startups, mid and late stages. They boast of a strong track record of having backed highbrow companies like Coinbase, Airbnb, Github, and Slack, transforming the then small businesses into giants.

 

A16z are not newcomers in the crypto space. In June 2021, the company announced a $2.2 billion fund to invest in crypto founders, teams, and networks. In addition, the Financial Times reported on plans by Andreessen Horowitz to raise more than $4.5 billion for crypto investments this year, doubling last year’s figures. A16z has been investing in crypto since 2013 and has shown interest in decentralized finance, Web3, creator funds, and the next-generation payment methods.

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Imagine accidentally selling an NFT worth over $1 million for only $26. That is precisely what has happened to Timothy McKimmy, who owned Bored Ape #3475 from OpenSea’s Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection.

 

Because of this, he is now suing OpenSea—whose legal identity is Ozone Networks—claiming they knew of a glitch that made the sale possible. So what does this mean for NFT buyers and sellers? Let’s take a look.

 

About the OpenSea Lawsuit

 

The claim being made by McKimmy is that OpenSea knew of a bug that allows people to purchase NFTs when they’re unlisted on their platform. De-listing an NFT from OpenSea’s platform with their “transfer” feature doesn’t necessarily remove listings on the blockchain’s back end, making it possible for hackers to purchase tokens for far less than their floor price.

 

Previous Victims

Others have fallen victim to this glitch already, and OpenSea has since added a feature that allows users to see their current listings, including those they may have believed were cancelled. From there, users can fully de-list their NFTs by paying Ethereum gas fees. However, those who have already fallen victim to the bug aren’t at all helped by this.

 

The Damages

McKimmy is demanding that OpenSea either return his Bored Ape NFT—which was shortly after resold for 99 ETH (about a quarter of a million dollars)—or pay him damages of over $1 million. He claims the Ape was worth $1.3 million, comparing it to one of lower rarity bought by Justin Bieber for a similar price.

 

Negligence Charges

McKimmy claims that OpenSea was negligent in that they knew about the vulnerabilities in their code but did nothing to fix it. Instead, they continued sales on their platform rather than pausing to rectify the problem despite knowing this.

 

 

Does McKimmy Have a Case?

 

The claims made do seem to have some weight. It’s true that OpenSea had been in communication with other victims of their platform’s exploit and had even made some settlements (though for less than the tokens in question may have been worth at the time), so it seems reasonable to believe that they were aware of the exploit and had done little to repair it.

 

On the other hand, OpenSea did recently add their “Listings” feature, allowing users to see their current listings, including those that they might have previously believed to have been de-listed. This may prevent future incidents but does not satisfy the damages against McKimmy and others in similar circumstances.

 

There seems to be a good chance that McKimmy’s negligence charges could secure a reward from OpenSea, even if his lawsuit, as it currently stands, has some errors (such as naming OpenSea as defendant instead of Ozone Networks, listing the incorrect address, etc.).

 

 

Lessons and Preventive Measures for NFT Holders

In terms of lessons that can be learned from this case, here are a few preventive measures NFT holders can put into place:

 

1. Know the Platform

It’s generally best to deal with platforms that already have a solid reputation in place. OpenSea has been at the center of multiple controversies in addition to this lawsuit, and that should be a warning to buyers to proceed with caution.

 

2. Keep an Eye on Listings

Just because you use a platform’s tool to de-list something doesn’t mean it’s completely gone. Rarible provides a tool where you can check on all current and previous listings, as does OpenSea with its new “Listings” tab, so it’s easy to keep an eye on what’s actually on the market. You may have to pay a fee to completely de-list your token, but that’s a small price compared to the value of a highly appreciated NFT.

 

3. Get Your Legal Stuff Right

The errors in McKimmy’s lawsuit may not altogether avert his efforts to recover damages, but they can still be an obstacle. Make sure you know which company you’re dealing with (not just the first name that pops up on their platform) and the jurisdiction in which they operate. Having some legal help on your side isn’t a bad idea either.

 

 

Lessons and Preventive Measures for NFT Sellers

 

There are some lessons to be gleaned for sellers as well. Even if you don’t lose a lawsuit, it’s still expensive to resolve it, making the following preventive measures invaluable.

 

1. Know Your Customer

While many value blockchain technology for its potential to protect anonymity, it’s still a good idea to know your customers. Doing so can help you avoid dealing with hackers and keep you more secure against liabilities that might result from exploits or illicit activity.

 

2. Review Your Code

To further shield yourself and your users against exploits, it can be worthwhile to review your code and platform activity every so often. Doing so can reveal potential bugs that could open you up to liability. If you find anything, correct it quickly. It may mean taking your system down, but expensive lawsuits can be far more costly.

 

3. Give Users Visibility

One of the issues with OpenSea appears to be the fact that users didn’t have much visibility over their listings. They used the platform’s “transfer” feature, believing that it would completely de-list their tokens when it, in fact, did not. If they had had more visibility, these errors might not have occurred (or at least wouldn’t have been OpenSea’s responsibility). As such, it’s worthwhile to implement functionality that gives your users plenty of visibility over their assets.

 

The Takeaway

 

It will be interesting to see what happens over the course of this lawsuit. The nature of blockchain technology and the various forces at work, in this case, could present some unique challenges when it comes to presenting the case to a jury, and the courtroom proceedings that follow could well shape the case law for future NFT-related suits. But, for now, it’s advisable to play things on the safe side.

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Opensea, the largest NFT platform by volume, has been failing in its responsibility to pay royalties for secondary sales on its platform. Similar reports from many reputable artists have become commonplace, indicating a pattern propagating on a wide scale. Claims from these artists have been verified with evidence. This failure on Opensea’s behalf spotlights a major issue in Opensea’s smart contract not distributing royalties automatically and, as a result, the unnecessary centralization that arises.

 

Royalty payments for secondary sales on Opensea are not paid out automatically. Their help center confirms this, stating payments happen on a monthly basis when an artist has “accumulated more than ~$60.00 worth of fees.” There are many instances of artists with balances far exceeding this minimum, many of which have been outstanding for months. This issue seems to have become more common recently, with reports of royalties not being received growing especially since August. 

Royalties are one of the cornerstone benefits of NFTs. The ability for sales to provide a continuous income to artists is revolutionary, enabling passive income for artists where none had existed before. This is not a functionality that Opensea innovated; it is a feature of the blockchain itself. Despite this, Opensea has chosen to undertake the process of paying royalties manually. Their smart contract does not address royalties at all, indicating that they are managed off-chain by the platform itself.

Photo Credit: Markus Winkler via Pexels

 

Managing royalties off-chain is an unnecessary implementation of centralization. The only benefit the system offers is to hold payments in order to send them in batches to avoid paying gas on too many occasions. However, this is something that could be managed more seamlessly by a smart contract. Instead, Opensea chooses to take the burden upon it’s shoulders manually, leading to situations like the one we are currently facing. 

 

An artist by the name of Lance Ren was in a Clubhouse room discussing this particular issue when Jen Stein pinged the CEO of Opensea into the room, Devin Finzer. He reportedly faced the group of angry users, and offered them his apologies in regards to the situation. According to Lance, Devin mentioned two reasons for the lack of forthcoming royalty payments: high gas fees and old architecture that has not scaled yet.

 

Assuming Devin’s response is truthful, this indicates a major failure on Opensea’s behalf. They have been quick to brag about the billions in sales they facilitate every month, but being the largest NFT marketplace comes with its responsibilities. This situation indicates that they are quick to relish in their successes, but lack the foresight to prepare for them. Did they not expect to become the biggest NFT marketplace?

This is an issue that must be addressed by Opensea immediately. Funds are being withheld from artists who worked hard for them. The platform does not lack in resources; the 2.5% it collects on sales on its platform equates to a $100 million profit for the month of August alone on its $3.4 billion in sales. Why a company so profitable would be so concerned with gas fees is difficult to envision.

 

 

Photo Credit: EpicThunderCat

 

Meanwhile, artists are missing out on funds they could use to improve their lives or their communities. This limits innovation and growth in the NFT space, as artists rely on their royalty payments; only to get them inconsistently, if at all. Commitments can be made that may be difficult to keep without this important revenue source, as is the case for EpicThunderCat, who was owed 1.1916 ETH over 109 secondary transactions.

 

“I’ve been doing a mental health game basically, and have some super intense plans, but I need them to pay me and it’s negatively impacting my community that they haven’t. I am going to pay my mods with the up front money this weekend because they shouldn’t be punished if Opensea doesn’t do their job; but it’s hard. My collectors and I have all voted on getting a decentraland property. I can’t do it unless they pay me.” – EpicThunderCat

 

EpicThunderCat was finally paid while we had been speaking to gather information for this article. This long-overdue payment corresponds to substantially lower gas fees this week than the week prior and lends to the case made by Devin. Many other artists we spoke to have received their long-awaited payments in the past week. 

Collectible art projects are also experiencing these issues. Rich Beeman from NiftyCastle says that their Deebies project has only ever received a single royalty payment – that was 7 weeks ago at the time of writing. The fact that this issue impacts high-volume projects, as well as individual artists, means that this is both a pattern and a systemic problem.

Photo Credit: Deebies by NiftyCastle

 

Most people do not believe it is out of malice that Opensea withholds payments. High gas fees would be a valid excuse if the system itself were acceptable, but the decision not to include royalties in the smart contract is a decision made entirely by Opensea, placing the burden of responsibility on their shoulders. If they choose to go against the ethos of the NFT space and centralize operations unnecessarily, the least they can do is bite the bullet when gas fees are high, and balance it out when they’re low. 

 

This serves as a reminder of the value decentralization offers: without a single point of failure, a system can continue to operate and overcome issues as a collective. Opensea’s decision to centralize their royalty payments creates a major dependency for NFTs minted on their platform. What if a major bullish announcement is made causing gas fees to spike and never go back down? If current behavior continues, payments may continue to be delayed, or even require fees from artists to be collected.

 

Furthermore, if Opensea ever fails for any reason, artists’ continued royalty payments may not be guaranteed. This is unnecessary and is by design. Artists and upcoming projects should consider this before minting directly on the platform, and consider the benefits a custom smart contract provides. We like NFTs for the permanence they offer. And if Opensea is going to detract from that permanence, we should at least be aware of it.

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“We’ve all grown in the digital era so seeing it not being appreciated in a fine art context is almost ludicrous”

 – Robness on Digital Art

 

 

My name is Lisa Leggz and as an infant in the crypto/NFT space I was immensely honored with the task of documenting David Cash’s interview with “Robness” in the INSTITUT clubhouse. I listened and learned about the pre-dawn of NFTs before they even had a name. Robness delved into the history of  when crypto was added to the formula adding value perspective, which gave digital art the room to shift into being recognized as an official art form as host David Cash sets it off with the first question…

 

David: How did you get started as a digital artist?

 

Robness: “Digital art has been in my blood ever since I was a kid…” Robness shares how expressing himself using photo applications has been a mainstay incorporated into his creative expression alongside his love for music since his childhood. “Luckily I was at the right place at the right time.  In 2014 I was in the Bitcoin space and mostly it was just trying the technology out. And at the time it was more so, everybody trying to make a go and trying out experiments, seeing what we can do with the blockchain.”

 

He went on to share that, as the years went on, there were many ups and downs with different bitcoin experiments- some taking flight and some falling flat. When the tokenization concept came about, for Robness, it was hard to stomach back then. With Bitcoin still grappling with the modalities of how the currency could be accepted worldwide, everyone else was in something of a frenzy until it evolved into the networks and organizations that came to be what we know now to be the NFTfi space.

 

David: Considering your mentality around art and the controversial and influential moves you made that paved your way from the very beginning, legitimizing  the NFT art space; how would you describe your relationship towards the term “Trash Art” now and do you still consider yourself a “Trash Artist?”

 

Robness: “O yea! Honestly most of the credit I give to pretty much everybody else that held some sort of symbiotic connection to it. For me it’s more trying to keep promoting artistic freedom in the space; and I think that’s the most important. To be honest, philosophically, I say it all the time but, seeing Bitcoin take off and be open source I think is one of the most important things that we should probably keep in our heart of hearts around this whole thing. Because if it was closed source, we wouldn’t have Ethereum, we wouldn’t have Tezos, we wouldn’t have Polkadot, or any of these offshoots.

 

So for me I consider myself an ‘open source artist,’ which is really radical. I’m not saying everybody should do it, but I just think for me it seems proper to do so, because I feel like keeping the information free and keeping art free. I mean it IS a remix culture and besides electronic music, hip hop is the biggest catalyst for that and I really like in terms of remix culture in the digital art format.

 

Saying all these things, I guess the trash thing is kind of a reaction to that, And even though it was a trash can that was the catalyst for the art piece, I think people understood… The artists actually understood. They understood what I meant with that, and they felt like they needed to express themselves in that light, and I’m totally indebted to them for that- they’re all family to me now… It’s wild to see something like that grow. And almost every day I’ll see someone do a Trash Can Glitch art type of thing, and their own interpretation of it, and it’s wonderful to see.”

 

David: What are a couple of things some artists/creatives listening can do to be more open sourced as creatives from you, the Robness?

 

Robness: “On the controversial side I’ve made some artistic statements about people asking for permission for artwork and stuff like that. But for me, the trash concept is kinda like proof in the pudding. If you just go to Opensea and type in ‘trash,’ you’ll see all these remixes. I could’ve easily said to  ‘not make any more of these’ or ‘this is my intellectual property,’ but why? So for me, that’s kinda the way that I look at things.

 

Be a little bit more open in the space. The digital art medium is so provocative. With just the transfer of the artwork- memes are a perfect example of that. And going back to my history- using the ‘meme’ as a context of spreading artwork is a very powerful thing. And that may be one of the reasons we use the infamous Pepe… Because that’s one of the most iconic internet memes probably in the world.”

 

 

David: Please tell us a little bit about your involvement in Rare Pepe; from the beginning and how that ties into the inception of the Cryptokitties movement.

 

Robness: “My introduction to tokenization was when the Counterparty network came out. That was actually the first time I came across the burning concept,  because the way they did their token sale was you had to burn itcoins to generate XEP tokens, and you needed XEP tokens to create assets. So at first I was burning tokens- and honestly they burned 2000 bitcoin and generated 2 Million XEP tokens… And from that point on then you could burn those tokens to create assets.

 

At the time there were a couple of blockchain games that were messing around with the itemization- SaruTobi is one of the more infamous ones. so I was beta testing those at the time and, as I’m surfing through the exchange, you could see assets pop up. And so I finally see the Rare Pepe asset, and I’m like what is this? And one of the internet jokes is to make Rare Pepe assets rare- like TRULY rare. So I obviously had to investigate- and all of a sudden- I found a Pepe chat with like 30 people in there- and I inquired to see what’s going on. And then I’m like *audible gasp* it’s happening- people are making their own artwork and tokenizing. That’s when I knew, I was like: I’m here, let’s do this. From that point on we went from 30 members to like 2000. It went worldwide and thousands of cards were made. There’s a huge book, this woman made a book and she minted only 300 copies of all the artwork made within that year. It went worldwide andit was the first real worldwide crypto art movement. It’s just wild to think about right now. Just seeing how big it’s grown now is insane.

 

“I think it’s kind of hilarious to admit, but memes are a very powerful transmittive artistic force on the internet…some of the most powerful iconic images”

 

 

 

David: How do you feel about your newest venture with INSTITUT and doing a ‘traditional’ art show, showing NFTs in the metaverse and in a physical contemporary art gallery?

 

Robness: “It’s been great- I say why not! I don’t want to deny art in certain areas, and to be honest, in the final context the pieces I submitted- I actually really love those. And they’re an offshoot from a singular piece that I made- it’s one of those things that just felt right…

 

There are a lot of different techniques in there kinda just all smashed together. Like I’m using Blender, Artificial Intelligence renderings, the art reader, large glitch art thrown in there as well on the ‘mannequin’ so to speak.

With these pieces, for me, it’s like surrealism, but l a more modern type of surreal. I notice in the Blender world, the 3D there is like a surreal element. Whether it’ll be pieces that defy gravity- it seems like in the 3D world there’s a real passion for doing things that you can’t do in the physical world. And people love to see that. So the closest to reality that you can get to it… surreality gets pretty close.”

 

Photos courtesy of: 

https://www.blockchainartexchange.co.uk/artists/robness-cyberpop/

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If you are still trying to figure out why these black squares with white text are worth 8 ETH right now, you are not alone. Many have been confused by the Loot Project and its various spin-off derivatives Bloot, Sloot, Ploot, etc. 

This is probably because the Loot project is the first of its kind. Taking a bottom-up approach and integrating complete decentralization from its genesis.  There is no art, no team, no road map, no centralized authority to determine the specifics of this NFT project.  It is totally up to the community to build on top of a barebones set of words that can be interpreted in any way the community sees fit.  This is the ultimate decentralized community social experiment. It teases at one of the underlying secrets being uncovered by NFTs in general: that the most valuable aspect to NFTs is the community itself that forms around and gives value to projects.

 

Image Credit: From the Real Loot Project

 

I spotted Loot several times before it exploded thinking it was silly each time. Not one of those times that it came up on my radar did I fully dig into understanding what was really going on here. It was my flashbacks of not buying into Cryptopunks, and then years later the Bored Ape Yacht Club, that made me say wait a minute let me understand this before I dismiss it once and for all.

I spent some time digging into the Loot Project website and several aspects caught my eye, reminding me of the early days of NFTs. They even started a forum; something you don’t see very much of anymore. Their activation felt very organic, the community forming around this was growing really fast and utilities for this project were being built in a matter of days after the project’s release. 

You can find a list of resources on the official website

 

Bag #0001 Parody WTF (For Loot) Collection on an OpenSea Shared Contract

 

I think some of the confusion stems from the phrase “build on top of Loot”  I think most people hear that and think WTF does that even mean? It’s a black square topped with white text…  How do you build on that? 

As far as I can tell, there are a few separate camps to this Loot craze. There are those who don’t care about the project; for them, it’s pure speculation, as long as there is market value in this NFT project, they are happy to participate.  Then there are the builders; the coders, the nerds, the ones who are taking a hold of this new concept and just experimenting with the idea by building useful or creative applications and layers for the community forming around Loot. They too are speculating, but in a different manner, investing time and brain capacity to building applications for the Loot ecosystem.

And then there’s the rest of us who, for the most part, are standing on the outside looking in like, “WTF is going on over there?”  

 

Parody WTF (For Loot) Collection on an OpenSea Shared Contract

 

I will put this in a different way that I was able to understand: 

Imagine that instead of the Star Wars universe being crafted and created by George Lucas, that the essential building blocks of the Star Wars universe existed in the form of just words outlined as a framework or starting point, and that those individuals who would one day become known as “Star Wars nerds” could have the opportunity to take that starting point and built out meaning, art, interpretations, stories, characters, quests, games, and more.

It all begins with a basic starting point- and the community that forms around a project could cause it to succeed or fail based on the contributions of the collective community. What are the possibilities for this “Star Wars universe without George Lucas” controlling major decisions? That is essentially the experiment of the Loot Project at its core. 

While Loot being the first of its kind is likely to continue to hold some sort of value, there is no guaranteed success here. Though the concept is novel and one we can all learn something from.

Vitalik made a comment on the Loot Project:

 

I think he’s right, 

 

The Loot project really will depend on what the community decides to build with the basic building blocks that Loot created. I will share my speculative guess at the possibilities.

I know there are a lot of big creative brains in the NFT space. And while the market frenzy may come and go, there will almost certainly be a smaller group of builders who put their heads down and build, despite the price of Loot and its many derivatives. And out of this incubation could very well be some next-level projects that utilize the Loot architecture and ecosystem. 

 

In my opinion, it would be well worth understanding this instead of dismissing the project because it doesn’t make sense yet. I have learned this from the experience of being wrong on NFTs so many times before starting with Crypto Kitties and Crypto Punks, then more recently not hitting the Mint button on the Bored Ape Yacht Club. I am learning to question my initial reactions, especially when I do not fully understand a project.

 

Bag #0011 Parody WTF (For Loot) Collection on an OpenSea Shared Contract

 

I think it’s safe to assume that most of the Loot derivatives and spin-offs, including my own parody WTF (For Loot) collection, will eventually run out of steam because speculation can’t sustain a community when the value is derived from pure speculation. Additional use-cases will need to be built with those projects for the valuations to be justified. I think it’s important to be careful apeing into Loot derivative projects. Consider who your peers are in that community, what are their intentions? If it’s pure “wen Lambo” and “wen moon,” then I think the greater fools theory applies. However, if you can see genuine efforts at creative, useful, ideas being worked then the possibilities may be just as numerous as the minds involved.

If you would like some additional explainers for Loot because it still doesn’t make sense there are a few other detailed and informative articles like this Loot Explained piece. I never intended this to be the go-to guide breaking every single detail down.



One last sidenote I would like to highlight is that EVERY single Ethereum address that will ever exist has what is called Synthetic Loot which can also be used to build upon.

You can check your own synthetic loot character by putting in your address here and hitting enter (No need to connect wallet).

You see, this loot character below was built on “synthetic loot” which is part of the Loot project that everyone who has an Ethereum wallet has free access to.

 

 

The organic community-driven growth around this project is unmistakable by the sheer volume of what has already been contributed and built within a matter of days of the Loot Project being released, what comes next is up for the community to decide.

 

Parody WTF (For Loot) Collection on an OpenSea Shared Contract

 

Parody WTF (For Loot) Collection on an OpenSea Shared Contract

 

Parody WTF (For Loot) Collection on an OpenSea Shared Contract

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Raven Trammell is a Los Angeles-based photographer and visual storyteller, originally from Holland, Michigan. From documenting protests to capturing some of the most prominent artists in the world on stage, her portfolio varies in subjects and compositions. Raven recently began minting her documentary photography series on the blockchain in 2021. 

 

Where did your passion for documentary photography come from?

 I’ve been taking photos since I was a kid. I bought my first camera when I was nine from a garage sale. I loved documenting the fishing trips I would take with my Grandpa. As I started playing basketball, aiming to get a full scholarship, my creative interests kind of fell to the side. I ended up getting that full scholarship and played four years of basketball at Lake Superior State University. In my sophomore year, I had back-to-back concussions, one of the major symptoms was memory loss. I got back into photography as a way to preserve my memories. Ever since then, I haven’t put the camera down. Freezing moments in time has become extremely important to me.

 

 

You have a unique story in that you pursued photography at an early age as well as sports. What was that journey like, and what did you glean from your experiences with both?

Each journey has their own paths but also find ways to intertwine. I think photography, to me when I was a kid, was a fun way to document the fishing trips I’d go on with my Grandpa. I love him so much, and he’s always been so supportive. He still has photos I took from those trips.

 

I started playing AAU basketball when I was nine years old. So many hours of passion and dedication were put into the game. My Dad, Shawn, got me into hooping and took me to every practice and every game. He helped me discover a drive within myself I wouldn’t have found otherwise. “Do you want to be good, or do you want to be great?” he would say during workouts. I apply a lot of the perseverance, dedication, and grit I had on the basketball court to how I approach the NFT space. Good isn’t enough for me, I want to be great. 

 

 

 In the past, documentary photography was prominently driven by white male artists. As we see the culture shifting to inclusivity concerning women and artists of colour, how do you feel the collective consciousness will relate to the history of picture-making?

 

I think as people connect with the photos, they naturally form a connection with the photographer. If you see an image that stops you in your tracks, you’re naturally going to want to learn more. I also think every photographer shoots from a different perspective. Having more diversity within any space allows for many different perspectives, which I think is necessary for growth. 

 

When I think about compelling documentary photography, I think of photographers like the work of Susan Meiselas and Andres Serrano’s Residents of New York series. Are there contemporary documentary photographers that you align your work with, and if so, do you think it would be interesting to see them minting their photography as NFT’s? Do you think their work would find success in this space, given the interest has traditionally been in the intrinsic value of their physical prints? 

Before NFTs, I thought I had to be shooting portraits in order to make a living. So most of the photographers I keep up with are portrait photographers. Kennedi Carter, Dana Scruggs, and Gunner Stahl are a couple who really inspire me just because they’re doing the work they want, it’s powerful, and they continue to push their craft. I would love to see some of their work in the NFT space. I think their work would do well.

 

There is an intersection happening with activism, art, and NFTs? How do you reconcile the three? 

I really love seeing projects that incorporate activism and giving back. It’s important. Some people have been in the space for a long time, but for the most part, a lot of us entered at the beginning of this year. We’ve discovered this new tool to not only get our artwork out there but also another way to generate, potentially, a substantial amount of income. It feels right to be giving some back. 

 

There’s so much incredible art in the space. With a lot of beautiful colours and images, you can feel like you’re out of the real world when you step into some of these VR Metaverses. This is incredible but I also think we need some realness and humanity in the Metaverse. Balance is always important. I like to think my protest work adds that bit to the space. 

 

What projects are you currently working on, both on or offline? Any new drops coming? 

I recently dropped HUSSLE AND MOTIVATE, a collection dedicated to Nipsey Hussle. This collection is on Opensea and is made up of 33 1/1 documentary photographs paired with a subcollection of 19 collectible 3D Polaroids that I made from the 1/1s. I was overwhelmed, and still am honestly, from the response the collection had. The 1/1s sold out in 12 fricken hours…I still can’t believe it. I’m really focused on continuing to push this project out there. It’s really close to my heart, and I’ll be donating 20% of the 1/1 primary and secondary sales to Crete Academy, which I’m super proud of. Crete Academy is a school in South Los Angeles, dedicated to serving students experiencing homelessness and/or extreme poverty. There are a few 1/1s available on the secondary market! There are also some of the 3D Polaroids available. 

 

_______

 

To learn more about Raven, check out her NFTs on Foundation, visit her website, and follow her online:

Instagram: @raven50mm

Twitter: @raven50mm

Website: https://www.raven50mm.com/

 

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On July 8, fine artist photographer Karen Jerzyk (@KJerzykPhoto Twitter, @karen.jerzyk.photo Instagram) went through a range of powerful emotions when her mother suffered from a stroke. This tragic moment came on the heels of the death of Karen’s dear friend earlier the same week. In 2011, Karen’s father had succumbed to a massive stroke which had a significant impact on Karen’s personal and professional lives. Karen is an only child and her craft has always been influenced and supported by her parents. Karen’s mom has been recovering in hospital, going through rehab, and is destined to return home in the coming days. Having a loved one come home after a stroke is a struggle. Knowing what health insurance will pay for, when they will pay for it, and when equipment can arrive is a disconcerting situation. 

 

Still, Karen has the need to create as all true artists do. She commented on Thursday that she needed to get back out shooting photos. Looking at her work, one might think it is rendered or heavily Photoshopped. But Karen creates her scenes meticulously in a studio or uses real locations often with a model in an astronaut suit. But the photos are the photos. Her images are like a vision of the future trapped in a memory of the past.

 

©karen jerzyk x don tyler “America 2078” available on KnowOrigin

 

Karen is a master at finding interesting locations to shoot photographs. A significant amount of research goes into finding these spots. For example, there is an area in Virginia with large statues of former US Presidents. In Karen’s artful eye, the vision is apocalyptic. In a collaboration with musician and video director Don Tyler (@yodontyler), this vision comes into full relief with the burning embers and haunting score.

 

The NFT Community is sometimes fractured — collectibles like cryptopunks, rats, apes, and mooncats vs fine artists vs photographers vs scammers vs collectors and so on. This community is as diverse as it is far-flung. Every walk of life from every corner of the world is represented. Yes, there are silos. Underrepresented people. Though sometimes the community can unify in a way not comparable to real life.

 

The NFT Community has set up many events and features so Karen can earn money to support her mother through sales of her art. Some movements are very public like Eddie Gangland and Stephanie Dillon are featuring Karen’s work in one of their CryptoVoxels galleries (see featured image). Art-Jedi held a two hour Clubhouse room last week to catch up with Karen and hear her story first hand. Behind the scenes, many have given or purchased silently with no fanfare.

 

While NFT artists continue to find their way in this newfound creative environment, there are many challenges: inequality, heated criticisms about form, invasions from celebrities seeking to make their mark, battles over platforms, gas fees. But more than most, the NFT community has room for everyone. Yes there are flaws. Bad actors. Theft. The digital world is not immune from the real world. But it seems a slightly higher form of community. One without a governance structure, and very little policing. It is almost a peaceful anarchy comprising Twitter, Clubhouse, Instagram, and the dozens of NFT platforms — and there is a sense of accountability that exists amongst artists and collectors. It isn’t perfect. Sexual harassment exists. Scams are prevalent. Incredible artists are being discovered. Not perfect, but a work in progress. 

 

Artists supporting artists is a thing. And the NFT Community has that going for it.

Karen is scheduled to appear as a speaker at NFT.NYC November 1-3 in Times Square.

 

GoFundMe for Karen’s Mom

https://gofund.me/64cc4adf

 

Karen Jerzyk Art

Known Origin

OpenSea

Foundation

Hicetnunc

Try Showtime

 

 

Main featured image credit: ©karen jerzyk “Everybody Left” available on OpenSea

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Members of Carbonbase (a climate fintech company based in Hong Kong) founded Project Ark, an organization dedicated to taking effective action against climate change by leveraging data science, blockchain technology, and sustainability.  

In partnership with Carbonbase  and World Wildlife Fund Panda Labs, Project Ark is an innovative new conservation platform, and an online marketplace, which sells rare NFT collectibles, in exchange for funds that support and protect both animals and the environment.

 

Project Ark: A Quick Overview

“At Project Ark, we aim to realize this potential impact by bringing together passionate artists, with purpose-driven collectors, and deserving projects to create a win-win-win situation,” says Jon O’Sullivan, head of Business Development for Carbonbase spearheading Project Ark.

The story of a WWF member holding one of the last rhinos in her palm just before it died in 2020 inspired the team to get involved with protecting the most vulnerable species wherever needed on the planet. As a result, Project Ark was created; a carbon-neutral NFT platform worked on by World Wildlife Fund Panda Labs, that directly funded conservation and animal protection organizations.

 

As part of Project Ark’s mission, the organization seeks to build a market where any artist can participate in whatever conservation project inspires them, in which a portion of the proceeds will go to the partner organizations. “We believe that the NFT space has tremendous potential to raise much needed resources, but also provide emotionally evocative and experiential art that can change the way people view our natural world,” explains Jon O’Sullivan.

 

Additionally, O’Sullivan’s team intends to release its large scale natural endowment funds and create their own Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) token, He adds: “this DAO will create a democratic governance amongst communities, in our mission to protect natural resources that are part of the common good but exploited by private interests.”

 

Staying conscious of sustainability and Carbon emissions, the team decided to go ahead and mint on the Polygon (formerly Matic) Network, “which is PoS (Proof of Stake) based and therefore involves negligible gas fees and Carbon emissions” O’Sullivan argues. “We also partnered with Chainlink (one of the more widely used Oracle Networks) so we can include Verifiable Randomness (VRF), and Dynamic NFTs going forward with the help of their oracles.”

 

Genesis Campaigns/Drops: An Overview

The current Genesis Drop offers 50% of all proceeds to World Wildlife Fund Romania, which supports their efforts to return endangered European Bison to the wild and to engage local communities in the conservation effort. Furthermore, Project Ark has a number of exciting conservation initiatives in the pipeline with which they will partner with creatives across a range of artistic mediums. 

 

The campaign was launched with the release of four NFT Egg tiers (Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum). Romanian instruments are used to create an original soundtrack for each of the Eggs, which represents an aspect of Romanian folklore and culture. Additionally, Project Ark has minted and offered 20 Genesis artworks up for grabs, which can be won by holders of Egg NFTs or purchased individually.

Besides the NFT Eggs, the entire Project Ark community will be able to access the Early Supporter Badge NFT.

 

 

World Wildlife Fund: An Overview 

 

“Our mission is to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth…At every level, we collaborate with people around the world to develop and deliver innovative solutions that protect communities, wildlife, and the places in which they live.” World Wildlife Fund 

 

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)  has been working in its mission to help people and nature thrive for over 60 years working with nearly 100 countries.  

 

As the world’s leading conservation organizationWWF, engages businesses, local communities, academia, and conservation through Panda Laboratories . By attracting partners from various fields and gradually funding prototypes of identified solutions, Panda Labs will become the decentralized accelerator of WWF Romania, devoted to preserving nature and fostering local development.

 

Since 2006, WWF Romania has been dedicated to conserving wildlife in Romania’s Carpathian forests and along the Danube. Home to threatened species like amur leopards, brown bears, the sturgeons and European bison. Additionally, a program for young people to learn about the environment is being incorporated into this project.

WWF Romania started re-wilding the bison in 2014, and is now transforming local communities into conservationists through its extensive conservation program. As a result, bison populations running free in the wild have increased more than 200-fold, providing these communities with new and exciting economic opportunities.

 

 

Project Ark Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WeAreProjectArk

Discord: https://discord.com/invite/3DEGTZJ68J

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/weareprojectark/

Linktree: https://linktr.ee/Project_Ark

To purchase the art: https://opensea.io/collection/genesis-drop-ark

 

Chainlink:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chainlink

Discord: https://discord.com/invite/aSK4zew

Website: https://chain.link/

 

Polygon:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/0xPolygon

Discord: https://discord.com/invite/polygon

Website: https://polygon.technology/

Main featured image credit: “Back From The Brink” – NFT by @JonnyOhCanada

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The past week has had my mind occupied by the book ‘Because Internet’ by Gretchen McCulloch, which covers the linguistic changes brought about by people communicating online. One of the brief points it raises is that young people have flocked online not because they don’t want to socialize and play outside, but because those outside places have been restricted, controlled and commodified to the point where they can’t be accessed, utilized & experimented with.

So where do you go if everything is restricted? The new paradigm of digital spaces with unlimited possibility, of course. Fortnite, Roblox, Minecraft, easily accessible worlds with ever-expanding toolsets, environments that promote and appreciate a lusory attitude. Spaces that mimic the long-lost forests, parks, and venues now dominated by increasing ticket prices, demolition, or restriction. Children don’t play in the roads, because they’re full of BMWs driving at 70mph. They don’t play at the bowling alley, because Jeff Bowlzos charges 15 dollars for a game, and you can’t play in the park because…

 

No Ball Games

 

The trend for games and platforms in the present day (to maximize users and income) is to fulfill this need for play – creating spaces to be risk-free and ‘fun’ primarily, before being restricted by monetization – spaces for experimentation, before commercialization. Do the current offerings of (NFT enabled) Open Metaverse platforms offer this in abundance? Well, no – no to the point where somebody on a low-income FIAT salary still can’t really expect to engage in the platform, never mind kids. 

As we’ve seen with F2P video games, their evolution has pushed the most successful models towards cosmetics-only monetization (Warzone, Fortnite, Roblox), with an emphasis on leaving any form of experimentation and play as a free component. This removes the barrier of cost which young people struggle to overcome and allows them to provide onboarding, usage, propagation, experimentation, and therefore content, in abundance. It’s about socializing play because that’s the most profitable route.

Minecraft NFT

 

“Yeah but I don’t want to sell it to kids!”, you say. Well, your audience doesn’t primarily become children, it becomes everyone – young people are the conduit to which new technology is accessed. The fun doesn’t stop at the age of 18, all of those adults with LEGO collections and horror movie obsessions are proof of this, if a product is fun, it’s still fun as an adult. 

NFTs have allowed for a race to the bottom in regards to commodifying online spaces, and if we allow this commodifying behaviour to over-exert itself, the users who are most important to gaming’s current success will likely be dissuaded to adopt. What Metaverse worlds often amount to currently, are increasingly expensive blogging platforms with three-dimensional graphics.

This is why we’ve yet to see a mass Metaverse onboarding from blockchain-enabled games, and why platforms like VRChat, Roblox, Minecraft & WoW currently have more mainstream appeal than Sandbox, Decentraland & Somnium. Metaverse Spaces, for the most part, require you to inject large sums of capital prior to being able to experiment properly with the platform. For example, needing to purchase land plots and items to be able to build, customize characters, or engage with the community gate keeps your primary conduits – while the free experiences offered in those worlds do not (yet) surpass basic mechanics & concepts – necessary for encouraging future expenditure.

Decentraland Parcels & Estates

 

Unsurprisingly, this forces a trajectory of feeding largely on whales & corporates for Metaverse spaces, because they are the sole users who can afford to utilize the tech.. Great, an easy market share… But as we’ve just discussed above, we don’t want to (proverbially) pave our Metaverse spaces with highways for commercial haulage, or restrict play to luxury penthouses for self-inflated frat boys. Metaverse spaces, to achieve mass appeal, should be spaces for experimentation and play, without the need for monetization.

So what about airdrops and ‘sponsored entry’? Are these good enough to supplement socialized access to these spaces, and ensure that mainstream audiences onboard and further the space’s usage/appeal?

Consider this analogy: imagine you’re taking your child to a playground (Meta-world) that requires you to pay for a ticket to entry, while you’re surrounded by free access theme parks (Centralised-worlds), who are filled with customers creating a positive atmosphere, and who are purchasing a lot of hats, the hats aren’t theirs to keep, sure – but they don’t care, because the social credit is more important than the ownership itself.

Currently the, comparatively small, playground is saying, ‘here’s a free ticket for one day a year’ or, ‘you can wear this free party hat when you’ve paid to visit’ – but it’s clearly not as exciting as the rollercoaster next door, and it’s also somewhat insulting, because let’s be honest, the slide is dull and the sandpit smells funny. So, to offer you such a small incentive seems somewhat absent-minded, considering the neighbours.

Meta-worlds, and meta-projects behaving in this way might bring in one or two new customers, but charging every time someone uses your jungle gym isn’t going to guarantee an enthusiastic group who create their own game of tag nearby, and certainly won’t provide the mass social hierarchy to encourage cosmetic spending.

What we should be looking at is a socialized system of baseline play, which, if we look at the history of MMOs, is a standard practice. It has been exhibited throughout successful online games up to this point, and seems to be an art lost by blockchain-enabled Metaverse spaces. For example, the concept of receiving housing ‘space’ in MMOs is not new, even Club Penguin did it. The expansion of that space is where the cost comes in, through play or through payment – Decentraland & CryptoVoxels for example, could provide all new users with a plot of land to utilize, but require purchasing for larger sizes, different plots, or location movement.

 

Club Penguin

 

The problem is that these spaces, shortsightedly, currently serve the crypto community, and so unsurprisingly, depend on discerning individuals to spend on name, locations, looks, just about anything, based on sheer speculation. However, for true mainstream onboarding, the airdrop method, or ‘sponsorship’ systems, can’t compete with immersive F2P worlds which hook audience attention through entertainment, and then monetize as a secondary target to obtaining users.

This needs to be something keenly considered as a key component of any Open Metaverse play, cut off the big (cost) hurdles to experimentation, and the ability for power-users to amass control over experimentation, create a community that plays with your tech, and then commodify the hierarchy (not the play itself). 

Metaverse spaces need to assess a ‘minimum viable fun’, to ensure they’re outdoing their competitors in regards to user attention, which means offering quality content, while not providing too much, for free. These meta-worlds would fare well to look beyond the golden trinket of a marine mammal’s pocket, and to the audience who will provide a long-term population, and success – the whales will follow.

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A new world record sale for a CryptoPunk recently took place at Sotheby’s Natively Digital auction that ran from June 3 -10th 2021.  

This ultra rare 1 of 9 alien CryptoPunk #7523 was won by Shalom Meckenzie, the largest shareholder of sports-betting outfit @DraftKings, and went for a whopping $11.75 Million dollars.

This CryptoPunk was first minted on June 23rd 2017 by Larva Labs and is 1 of only 10,000 original CryptoPunks in existence.  CryptoPunks became the genesis NFT collection, and thereby poster-child  of the Ethereum blockchain, and has inspired the ERC-721 token standard that is the underlying technology that powers today’s digital collectibles. 

While technically only 24 x 24 pixels in size with a very simple 8-bit style, there are no two punks that are the same, much like the owners of these rare and valuable NFTs. 

CryptoPunks have come to symbolize the very early days of the blockchain space and embody the energy and spirit of challenging the status quo; at the intersection of what is considered art, technology, and traditional methods of collecting and appreciating art.

 

NFTs enable a whole new model for ownership of art and collectibles, and this Sotheby’s auction proves this to the world yet again – on the heels of mainstream media sources claiming the NFTs were dead no less. 

You may have seen CryptoPunks used as avatars all over twitter and anywhere you can add a profile image. The incredibly passionate community that has formed around CryptoPunks has seen members identify with their CryptoPunk NFTs so much that they use them as  consistent digital representations of themselves. 

Collecting art has largely been reserved for private spaces like the home or some other type of gallery and is a way that collectors can show their appreciation of culture and how they fit within their world.  With the advent of digital collectibles like the CryptoPunks, collectors can now digitally flex who they are, and their place in the Crypto ecosystem. As owners of one of the pioneering technologies that, in my opinion, will lead to the mass adoption of blockchain technology – using what we now know as non-fungible tokens. 

This $11.75 Million dollar sale not only solidifies the value of the CryptoPunks project as a whole, it further legitimizes the innovation that NFTs bring to the world.  This historic moment is not limited to art alone, as many who look from the outside at this 24 x 24 pixel CryptoPunk still miss the bigger picture behind what this technology truly means. 

Digital ownership, transferability of assets, authentication and access. From this minimalistic piece of Crypto history, will spring a wealth of innovations that will touch nearly every sector of our lives. Most people will never have any knowledge or idea that non-fungible tokens have anything to do with the infrastructure behind the services, technologies, applications, and experiences they will be using in the not too distant future. CryptoPunks, in many ways, will be the genesis of a new digital paradigm, regardless of their value, measured by monetary means.

I had the chance to ask SillyTuna the owner of CryptoPunk #7523 that sold at the Sotheby’s auction, what was next for him? he responded with “Focus on my own projects (games, nft’s), do some donations later this year, and think about how to deal with the Mccoy artwork.” which just made me smile, as I personally love to see good humans, win in this space and  witness the awesome things they go on to do.

Congrats again to SillyTuna and the whole CryptoPunk community on this incredible sale, as we see more evidence that NFTs are not in fact mortal and can not be “dead” for very long.

 

SillyTuna

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The online auction behemoth eBay is getting into the NFT game. The company confirmed via Reuters that they will be allowing the sale of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) beginning Tuesday, May 11th sellers who meet eBays standards will be allowed an “NFT inventory.” eBay has also expressed that they will be allowing NFT sales with traditional payment methods like credit cards and Paypal.

This big news will surely have some ripple effects throughout the NFT space, but what those effects might be is yet to be seen for existing creators, collectors and blockchain entrepreneurs.

I recently asked David Sneider, founder of Lit Protocol, and a forward thinking NFT marketplace called HelloApricot.com, what his thoughts were on eBay entering this space and his response echoed some of my own sentiments around this development. According to Sneider:  “With deeper utility for NFTs coming soon, eBay is setting themselves up to become the crypto entry point for millions of new users and extend their offering into the metaverse.”

With the ability to use eBay as a secondary marketplace for certain NFTs, I believe this could be a massive opportunity for the entire NFT community and ecosystem.

Removing the crypto complexity for new users is one major weakness of nearly all NFT marketplaces out there. While I have been a true believer in blockchain and crypto since 2014, I do feel that the “meta maskery” needs to be simplified industry-wide for non-technical users.  eBay will be one of those entry points that anyone can interact with  seamlessly and that will most certainly drive other marketplaces to also innovate within the user experience arena.

Another major challenge facing a majority of NFT marketplaces is the discoverability of artists. eBay entering this space with over 180 million active buyers can potentially drive other NFT platforms to innovate and improve on the gaps in the current state of NFT marketplaces, to retain and attract more users.

Big companies like eBay were always bound to get involved in this space. As the masses are starting to become more aware of NFTs, a large driver of this hype stems from the celebrities and influencers looking to cash in on this crypto craze, while missing the real point and possibilities of non-fungible token technology.

 

Big names entering the NFT game

In a refreshing twist, influencer Gary Vee  and his NFT project Veefriends has, in my opinion, really entered this space thoughtfully and is setting a new standard for what an influencer / celebrity NFT project could look like, by creating additional utility and experiences for his collectors. Ranging from 3 year of access to his annual conference to being able to have dinner or even play a game of basketball with the famous CEO. These types of influencers with millions of followers bring new non-crypto-native users into this space and that, fundamentally, is a good thing.

Founded in 1995, eBay has a long-standing reputation as one of the first online marketplaces for all types of goods and products. The eBay brand lends an enormous amount of additional credibility to this emerging paradigm-shifting technology that is NFTs.  While many in the mainstream are maybe still having trouble wrapping their heads around what a non-fungible token is and why they can be so valuable, it’s seeing big brands like eBay jumping into this space, that will give millions of users the curiosity and confidence that may nudge them into the market for buying NFTs.

The massive amount of traffic and eyeballs on eBay is astounding and this most certainly could be a great source of traffic for creators and collectors alike who are willing and able to become savvier in learning how to market and promote their creations.

 

What could go wrong?

However, there are some potential pitfalls here to take into account with eBay joining the NFT space. The most pressing one is the lack of a recognized NFT royalty standard, that is acknowledged and adopted across all NFT marketplaces.

As it stands now, when a creator’s NFT is removed from most NFT marketplaces to be listed on another, any royalties set for secondary sales are lost, and this negates one of the primary benefits for creators (the ability to be compensated for secondary sales).  This will almost certainly be true for NFTs listed on eBay. Specific details around how eBay will implement NFTs on their platform are still scarce.

eBay Getting into the NFT game, what does it mean for creator royalties?
What effect will eBay getting into the NFT game have for creators?

 

There has been an Ethereum improvement proposal (EIP) for creating such a royalty standard, proposed by Zach Burks, James Morgan , Blaine Malone, and James Seibel that has yet to be adopted on a massive scale but should be made known to all creators and collectors called the EIP 2981: ERC-721 Royalty Standard. The community should be making it known to all marketplaces that they want a standard adopted for the benefit of the entire NFT economy.

This loss of secondary royalties could create a negative impact on the NFT community and ecosystem. However, this gap is also an opportunity for other marketplaces to step up and adopt a royalty standard in order to retain the best artists, creators and collectors.

Overall, I believe that eBay being in this space will have a net positive effect, and be a major driver of mass adoption that will bring an additional flood of interest and users. Though eventually, these users will want more than what eBay will allow to happen on their platform. These new users will trickle into other parts of this incredible NFT ecosystem. eBay’s move may also spur some additional big brands to pay attention and enter this space, hopefully in a way that also benefits the overall industry and community.

As with anything that involves a big brand like eBay, there will be positive and negative aspects involved. It truly depends on where you find yourself and from what perspective you are viewing this news; as an artist, content creator, collector, curator or just now learning about NFTs.

 

NFT & Crypto Community Concerns

There are many crucial concepts that I know are important to the blockchain community, such as decentralization and moving away from centralized platforms, middlemen and gatekeepers, and to some, the name “eBay” may sound like the antithesis of the blockchain ethos.

I would like to invite you to consider a different perspective, for those who truly believe in the possibilities and benefits of blockchain and non-fungible tokens. We cannot be maximalists at the expense of mass adoption. In order to alchemize the incredible changes this technology enables, we must align ourselves with how nature operates, which is via the path of least resistance, especially for new users. In all honesty, most people will not care about the technology, but only that it works seamlessly.

There will always be some form of centralized systems because there is a general benefit to having them set up that way. As this technology matures, centralized systems that do not serve us as a society, a human culture, and as a planet will eventually be replaced with more decentralized systems. This will take mass adoption events like the eBays of the world getting involved, paired with a bit of time, development, and patience.

eBay will undoubtedly bring new energy, attention and opportunities to this space and it will be up to each artist, content creator, collector and blockchain entrepreneur to decide how they react to more mass adoption as big brands take note and enter this space with considerable resources, users and capital.

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