NostoNews, May 1, 2021

by Tommy Jasmin

What's up with these NFT things?

Non-Fungible Token

An unfortunate, IMO, but I suppose appropriate set of words to describe the thing that proves ownership of a digital asset. The token is the data, the piece of information that says this thing you bought is unique. It's like your social security card. Non-fungible just means the opposite of fungible, a seldom-used word meaning something easily reproducible and essentially interchangeable. If you still use dollar bills, the one you get in change and then use to buy something else is an example of a fungible item. So an NFT is something digital and (supposedly) unique, and the token says you are the owner.

I am only bringing this up because a) it seems like everybody is talking about them, b) I thought some of you might be curious about how the collectibles markets tie in, and c) I didn't have much else planned to talk about, and it's a little late to start writing an April NostoNews. As I look up I have less than four hours until it's May :-)

Why do I say supposedly unique? Let's start by showing you a few examples. Here's an example of an NFT comic book series where you can own the digital cover art, complete with way too many variant covers. There's nothing stopping any of us from copying any of those cover images and making it our screensaver or whatever, and then don't we legally own a digital file which is a copy of that cover? Sure, but the Token says someone else owns the "original", "master copy" or whatever you want to call it, and via token transfer they can sell it to someone else at a profit, if there is enough demand.

Here's another NFT example of a painting of Batman, which is actually kinda nice, but alas nobody met even the minimum asking bid for the token to own the rights to the original. Here, look - I pasted a copy of the painting in this web page, now you can all have your own free copy.

And the great irony here? A marketplace you'd think would be environmental friendly (no waste, right?) is actually the opposite. The "ledger" blockchain system which keeps track of who owns what (you want your local bank to know you still have $1,000.00 kept there, right?) is actually incredibly computation intensive, requiring large amounts of power use, and not at all easy on the environment.

As you can probably tell, I am not a big fan of the whole NFT idea - I'm old school and like to hold the physical coin or comic book in my hand. Feel the paper and smell the newsprint. Hell I can almost tell you the era a comic book was printed by the smell of the paper. Sometimes you can tell the publisher or artist by the smell too, wink. If you are really into NFTs, that's great and don't mind me, I am no expert - these words I just scribbled down are my rudimentary understanding of the whole phenomenon at this time. It's working out well for quite a few people, I hope it works out really well for you too.

Batman Painting NFT

What About The Site?

It's been hard lately just to keep up with data flow. So many of the sales we capture these days get flagged as "suspicious" and need to be examined manually. This is our code saying "something doesn't look right here, the sale price was either too high or too low". Well, it's almost always too high, and almost always correct! And every month there are more and more of these to look at! We started working on improving the "I want to sell this item" pages as part of the marketplace revamp. These old pages didn't even have date-pickers. They do now, and we're adding drag-and-drop images next. Stay tuned and thanks for your patience with improvements and new features.

Thanks, see all of you back here next month.
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