According to the Oxford dictionary, the suffix ism usually refers to a political ideology or an artistic movement. We typically associate it with potent words such as Capitalism or Expressionism, words that describe currents or beliefs practiced by billions of people and that generated a very profound impact on man’s life at a particular moment in history. Today, the emergence of the Blockchain is causing an unstoppable revolution, a social phenomenon so powerful that, over time, we might even call it “NFTism.”
An NFT is a non-fungible token. However, despite its widespread use, the definition of the token remains complex. While it is undoubtedly a capability derived from Blockchain technology, a token represents a concept: the democratization of value. This phenomenon can already be observed in many areas of human activity; however, it is in art and economic policy where NFTism is beginning to gain notoriety.
Creativity as a source of wealth
Starting with art, where non-fungible tokens are defining new rules to the game. Last year Mike Winkelman, better known in the art world as Beeple, sold the first all-digital work. Called Everydays: The First 5000 Days, the result is a collage of the author’s digital creations made throughout his career. The work was sold in NFT format for almost 70 million dollars, a lot of money for something that technically can be described as a simple JPG. The curious thing is that the author himself, until a few months before the sale, had no idea what an NFT was or its potential. When the sale took place, the artist showed his surprise quite spontaneously. A short “Holy Fuck” was all he wrote on Twitter, without realizing that the transaction he had been part of had just consolidated a new art market: the cryptographic one.
This can be explained in another way: the token revolution is essentially the revolution of ownership. For the vast majority of human history, many human beings lived in a state of poverty, which made it impossible for them to own anything materially valuable. Over time we humans evolved and brought about drastic political changes that resulted in the democratization of ownership. Today, the list of accessible goods is very long, with multiple categories according to people’s purchasing power. Gone are archaic requirements such as blood lineage or divine right. Today anyone can own something precious to others, such as an artistic work with the potential to be worth 70 million dollars.
A few years ago, owning a work of art with demonstrable value was an exclusive luxury for a select group of consumers. Culturally speaking, a work of art could be defined as an abstraction capable of representing a wide range of emotions or ideas. However, economically speaking, its value has always depended on scarcity. Very few people defined the good among the bad, the transcendent among the vulgar, and the potential diamonds among the trash. Meanwhile today, everything is art.
If everything is art, then everyone is an artist. We all have the opportunity and capability to create. We always did but we couldn’t pursue it as freely. This is the true revolution. These tokens allow us to pursue our talents while reducing the barrier to making a living from them. With the ever-changing work needs our society confronts, I believe that art and creative work would be in high demand in the coming generations. As blockchains replace the need for bureaucratic agents and automation releases humans of duty, we are free to pursue our talent and maybe finally reach our essence.
Collaboration as a political philosophy
The political and economic revolution that tokens are initiating is no less impressive than the artistic one. Again, people are beginning to participate in a new phenomenon that is still hard to grasp. If tokens symbolize the revolution of ownership, DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations) symbolizes the globalization of social action.
Not long ago, I made an exciting investment: I bought an NFT that allows me to monitor the care of a hectare of virgin forest in the Brazilian Amazon. A transaction on the Polygon blockchain allowed me to join a massive group of people unknown to me with a common need: to save the rainforest. The novelty is that each of these people cannot only define his or her level of investment but also their level of participation in the project. A member can help by promoting the initiative or by managing the community. Whoever wishes can participate in the voting for project decisions and even take part in the physical and direct care of the protected areas—all without bureaucracy outside the community or state intermediaries. A significant group of people decided to give value to something they considered essential. Then a token in the form of an NFT simply represents its value.
It is easy to see the impact these types of organizations will have in the future. In their speeches, politicians talk about globalization. For some reason, they have led us to believe that it is only a government or corporation phenomenon. Let’s be clear: lots of governments have failed to give us hope for a better future. They are not only inefficient and bureaucratically slow but often corrupt. People suffer from the decisions of governments, which are also imposed in a globalized way. A Fed decision determines the employment future of a shopkeeper in Estonia; European Union sanctions on Russia prevent a homemaker in Colombia from buying the food she needs to feed her children. A possible conflict between China and Taiwan has kept the world on edge for more than a decade. And we, the real actors of globalization, have no choice but to accept it as a kind of sentence when we could turn it into an excellent opportunity for the human race. DAO opens up an opportunity for global collaboration, allowing us to disaggregate global problems while truly globalizing their solutions. Human beings from all over the world, regardless of borders, nationalities, or cultures, can now come together to solve concrete problems, using and sharing their full potential to protect those things that matter to us all.
¿Shouldn’t that be the only definition of globalization?
Own the future you want to live in
Many people still view the world of tokens with a suspicious eye. I understand them. The amount of scams, rug pulls, or just meaningless projects are increasing by the hour. Everyone wants a piece of the pie and it is easy to be fooled into a project that just enriches its owner’s pockets. This technology wasn’t created to make us rich. It was created to allow trust and collaboration. Seeing the wonderful projects created by people who truly care about our society fills me with optimism about the future. Let’s make sure these efforts are not wasted. Let’s support worthy causes that want to leave a positive dent in the universe. I am not here to define what is worthy or not, I just ask for us to be guided by our collective well-being. Tokens, including their new popular version in the form of NFT, not only represent ownership, but they can also help us feel right about it. Psychologically speaking, we tend to care for and protect what we consider ours, that’s the endowment effect.
In the past, physical and governmental barriers prevented me from acquiring what I recently did: buying a piece of virgin rainforest in Brazil aimed for protection. Perhaps you want to support the citizens of Ukraine, at Endaoment you will find many organizations to do so or buy an NFT to eternalize your support. Dreaming of a better future? Check out DreaMe. Protecting endangered species or helping marine conservation. Clean water for a million people? House of legends is on that mission. The list goes on and on, in the end, it is all about doing good.
Our greed is evident. There are many important projects that we are ignoring while investing in those that do not represent anything important. In the end, our attention defines everything. We must be conscious of where we put our money and efforts. Instead of acquiring participation in communities that only care about increasing their financial value, we should focus on participating in those projects that guarantee the continuity of life on the planet, the decrease of violence, or the universalization of education; you choose what motivates you the most.
Only a few have realized that the first symbol of this new revolution already has the digital form of an NFT. A new definition of collaboration is in the making. In time, it might form into a new ism.
Here are some projects and communities, united by an NFT and an important mission. (growing list, contribute your favorite projects today)