NetLingo 2021 Word of the Year: NFT

People ask me all the time, WTF is an NFT? NFT stands for Non Fungible Token which is an individual, unique digital asset held on the blockchain to convey ownership of a property.  Non-Fungible Tokens are easily exchangeable and include multiple digital formats. 

An NFT property could be a digital asset, for example virtual real estate in an online community, a costume in a video game, an artistic image, digital content. The property could also be something in real life, for example actual real estate, an actual painting, a seat at a live concert, the first edition of a book. The property could also be a hybrid, such as who can rent a room in a cooperative working space or time share. The digital tokens, or certificates of ownership, live on the blockchain and can be bought and sold. NFTs are changing how we think about digital information, art, and ownership. 

“Non fungible” means something is unique and can’t be replaced with something else (for example if I gave you a signed George Brett baseball card and you gave me a signed Rolling Stones poster, we wouldn’t have the same thing), whereas “fungible” is something you can trade for something else and have the exact same thing (such as money and bitcoins because if you gave me $20 and I gave you $20 we would have the same thing). 

The "token" is the digital nature of the asset that lives on the blockchain. Think of blocks as individual transactions or records that are strung together on a single list called a chain or ledger. Blockchain can store anything digital, including signatures and intellectual property as well as cryptocurrency. 

To "mint" an NFT means to generate it, for example: “It was a hard mint, meaning the token cannot be changed, as opposed to a soft mint, meaning the token is changeable.” Once created, then you sell it. 

Cryptocurrency companies that enable NFT transactions are the payment platforms and the platforms that generate and maintain the NFT. NFT platforms include Rarible, OpenSea, SuperRare, Nifty Gateway, Foundation, VIV3, BakerySwap, Axie Marketplace and NFT ShowRoom. NFT payment platforms include MetaMask, Torus, Portis, WalletConnect, Coinbase, MyEtherWallet and Fortmatic.

The first-known NFT is considered to be Kevin McCoy’s 2014 image “Quantum” and the first projects began appearing on the Ethereum Blockchain in the ERC20 standard. The technology didn’t start hitting mainstream attention until in 2021 when people were buying and selling an estimated 85,787 NFTs —at a total value of $5.8 million— a day, according to DappRadar. On March 11, 2021, a blockchain-based digital artwork sold at Christie’s for a history-making $69 million, putting Beeple, its creator, among the top three most valuable living artists. If you fancy yourself an early adopter, it sounds like it's time to mint your own blonde babies, or at least check out some bored apes. 

Erin Jansen, Internet Specialist, Social Psychologist, Founder of
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