Posted on Jan 13, 2022Read on Mirror.xyz

Forget About the Price Tag: What i've Learned About Crypto & NFTs (So Far)

How do you talk about crypto? What about N*Ts? If you’ve ever a) felt like a weirdo outcast to everyone who knows you in real life because you’ve taken an interest in internet currency and non-fuckwitable tokens or b) still feel lost, but are open to understanding all the hype about silly looking jpegs then this is the post for you!

Let’s start with the good. There’s actually a whole lot of awesome, attainable art that just gets lost in a sea of headlines pushing million dollar sales of polarizing animal avatars. I just watched a video of internet music critic Anthony Fantano talking about celebrities grabbing up Bored Apes as if that’s all NFTs have to offer (but wait!! there’s more!!!). A quick peek at the comments suggests that’s all most people see when they think of NFTs too. Me, i don’t care lol. I’ve been in the space long enough to understand that crypto and NFTs are (unfortunately?¿) here to stay. For better or worse.

One of, if not the biggest implementation of the tech will be in music. You know in the record industry’s current model even the biggest artists only see a max of 20% of everything thats made off of their art? And that’s being very generous. That’s also not even counting all of the extra people who played a part in the creative process. But now with NFTs, artists can see 20% just from the resell royalties alone, all while keeping the original income from the initial sell and retaining the song’s rights. In the current model, record labels leverage everything. Everything, it’s no secret by now. All the songs on the top playlists? Record labels. 70% of Spotify’s total revenue? Straight to record labels. The labels are essentially just investing in artists anyways, i mean..why cant an artists’ fans and community directly fund said artist while also owning a piece of their favorite songs? It’s no secret It’s easier than ever for artists to do it themselves and with the added advantage of *really* letting their creativity flourish. The quality of the music (the most important part) will only increase, and artists won’t have the added label pressure to be something they are not or feel the need to appeal to a wider or particular audience.

Right, yes attainable art. There are plenty of affordable projects and tokens out there and lots of them with actual utility. For example, sites like Mint Songs have hella Music NFTs starting as low as 0.001 ethereum (which is like 3 dollars right now). Regardless, in my opinion, the “they don’t do anything” criticism is one of the weakest anti-NFT arguments because people buy art (or damn near anything) all of the time just to support an artist and just because they enjoy the work. The difference between me showing you a painting in my house that i bid on at an auction vs a painting i bid on on the blockchain is that you could walk into my home and not even give a second thought about the art piece i spent 2,000 dollars on but now there are entire digital galleries that can be appreciated by everyone in the world…on top of me being able to still make a physical print or display it in Times Square or something because i own it and everyone can verify i am the sole owner. With that being said, i’m still struggling with the idea of artificial scarcity. I believe everyone who wants art should be able to own art, but i also think the idea of 1:1’s, at least, can make a piece that much more special, almost like having a one of a kind commission from your favorite artist. Yes, i am perfectly imperfect.

You know most things aren’t even adopted until we are able to own it (another societal symptom of capitalism). I was watching a video the other day on the history of Youtube and a thought came to my mind about how Youtube wasn’t really taken seriously as a platform until it started its monetization program ~2011. Before that it was just a place to go and watch funny meme videos. Vine popularized the short form video, but Tik Tok monetized it and blew up (and exponentially expanded upon) the concept. Now you can make an entire living off of both platforms. Granted, neither of these have the sort of environmental impact that crypto has, and now its (*drum roll*) time for the bad.

I was very disappointed to have discovered that I have a personal carbon footprint of 96 kg of CO₂ from just 4 transactions on the ethereum mainnet. That’s the same amount of greenhouse gases released in a 3.5 hour drive or just getting from Charlotte to Wilmington for my NC readers. Going through some of the articles in the research for this post really put into perspective just how deep the environmental impact goes in order to run ethereum on a global scale. Without getting too technical, ethereum’s system to verify transactions on the block chain is currently ran on Proof-of-Work which uses an insane amount of energy. Ethereum currently emits 20,000 kilotons of CO₂ a day. That’s 265 tanker trucks of gasoline or the energy used by 2,408 homes in a year or driving 50.2 million miles in a car. Obviously not sustainable and the, “it’s going to get better soon” argument just…isn’t justifiable enough. And Bitcoin, although extremely necessary, is even worse. But that’s for another day.

The solutions are there, i suppose. They’re currently being developed, or already in existence, although not being implanted or adopted fast enough imo. Polygon is one solution, it runs on top of ethereum and cuts gas emissions to just 0.0003 kg of CO₂ per transaction, which is a dramatic difference, although it’s plagued by overall slow adoption and ethereum itself is still using massive amounts of energy in the background. Ethereum is looking to move into a Proof-of-Stake system over its current PoW system, which should massively cut energy usage, but it has already been pushed back several times and there’s no telling when it will actually be ready. There are a few other protocols that are already running on PoS and are carbon neutral, and some i’m still looking into like Algorand which is even carbon-negative, but moving the masses to a new system will inevitably take time (and lots of money).

So yeah, i think that’s all for now. The environmental impacts are so huge they can’t really be ignored and i didn’t even touch on the issue of a bunch of things not actually being decentralized in the crypto/web3 world even though that’s…kind of the premise of the whole thing but, i digress for now. It’s a lot of brain power and this one’s pretty long already. I do believe in crypto, i think the technology has a lot of really cool potential use cases and NFTs have given artists so much life and hope. I’m not sure if what we’re calling web3 is the big solution to the increasingly frustrating algorithms and billion dollar companies selling our personal info with us having a laughable amount of say over the matter, but i think we are still way too early to tell. Theres a lot of really big brains moving into the space that see these issues and are building the infrastructure to make this something really great, really cool, but if it’s going to be built it needs to be built right.