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At Satoshi’s Tea Garden (lrb.co.uk)
27 points by iechoz6H 13 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 52 comments





NFTs are weird. But a lot of things where money meets art are also weird, so you have to take that into account. Photographers selling 'prints' of their photos Vs downloading and printing yourself. Rare vinyl Vs a Flac rip of the same track. Anything that is deliberately limited edition, but could easily not be, like limited edition dvds, games, trainers, vinyl. A first edition book signed by the author Vs a pdf with a scan of the signature.

> But a lot of things where money meets art are also weird

I liked David Bowie's solution:

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/bowie-bond.asp


It almost makes one question whether the right people seem to have all the money

Please don't post unsubstantive and/or flamebait comments to HN. It degrades discussion and we're trying for the opposite here.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


It doesnt make me question that at all. There are no "right" people. All human behaviors are present at all income levels.

That's a pretty bold statement and it is probably wrong. Studies have shown that rich people tend to have less empathy for others. Then you also have that other trend of a high rate of psychopaths among CEOs.

Not being rich doesn't make you an immutable exemplar of morality. Give any group of people enough money to make them "rich" and you will get the same behavior as the current rich. We are all humans with the same flaws and tendencies. Money doesn't change that.

Studies also show that as much as 25% of criminals are psychopaths. Psychopathy has survived in humans for a reason. It makes survival in some situations easier. The fact that there are a few more CEOs that are psychopaths over the general population doesn't show anything other than psychopathy can be beneficial in that job.


This doesn’t contradict GP. To contradict it, your claim would have to be that lack of empathy solely exists in the wealthy. Regardless of relative frequency, that’s obviously not true.

No question a fair number of people in the crypto space earned wealth more through luck than through savvy, and might make poor investment decisions in the future.

(not that there is anything wrong with earning money through luck, if you were willing to take the risk in the process)


I like the concept of NFTs as it pertains to allowing artists more "control" over their works but I see no value in NFTs as a means of investing or really anything other than the modern pet rock. That being said, I still think it would be cool to own one as a novelty.

Gaming skins and the general market around in-game transactions for purely digital goods indicate what the market looks like. People are paying quite a fair bit for purely digital goods, and it doesn’t seem like a leap to say they’ll pay for discrete digital good s: “the only skin of this kind in Fortnite”

> the only skin of this kind in Fortnite

An NFT doesn't say anything about the uniqueness of the underlying digital good, it only shows who owns it. That Fortnite skin can still be duplicated endlessly.


Ownership of a Fortnite skin guarantees that only the owner can wear the skin. Owning an NFT doesn't guarantee exclusive use, as anyone can view the digital image/video/etc that the NFT has wrapped.

I'm interested to know how prices for tradable goods changed as they are obsoleted by newer, shinier things, or by the game being abandoned altogether.


I'm sure you already know the answer to how this will turn out. The price will be substantially discounted. I notice that the secondary market isn't making headlines, just these initial sales.

> Ownership of a Fortnite skin guarantees that only the owner can wear the skin.

Is that guarantee in the cryptographic sense or policy sense?


Ownership in a "good enough to dictate the value of the object through its exclusivity." If the player base sees Fortnite renege on its promise of uniqueness, they'll revolt, or at least the price of these unique items will drop.

But there's nothing stopping Fortnite from developing that right now without the need for a NFT. Sure you guarantee uniqueness with the token, but they can later create an identical skin with a new token. I really don't know what this buys that sort of transaction.

They could also ignore the tokens too. This is another off chain issue, there’s no guarantee that something outside the blockchains is obligated to respect what the blockchain says reality should be.

They could also release the same skin without any token even after someone paid for it, the token means nothing. The token is a gesture.

Yeah, I was making the assumption they created new rules and were playing by them, but yes, like the article says, you can share the images as much as you want. It's only the token that's the non-reproducible bit.

Fortnite already has the infrastructure to do such a thing, but with NFTs, the infrastructure is open to anyone.

That's true, but what's in it for Fortnite? That skin only really has value while the lights are on. I suppose it would have a "proof of purchase" appeal after the fact where the totally useless item can keep getting traded even after the servers are shut, but unless that proves to be of great monetary value I don't know why Epic would care.

I didn't mean to say that people will make NFTs for Fortnite skins (and I don't think that's what the other poster is saying either, but maybe I'm wrong).

Rather, people will probably make NFTs for art or social events or similar. The fact that people are buying essentially useless/decorative skins on Fortnite today is just evidence that such a market could be successful at all.


Agreed, this summarizes my view as well.

The criticism above are valid, but at a base level: people are paying for exclusive, purely digital goods. Them paying unique, purely digital goods, doesn’t seem like a stretch.

This is putting aside questions of product dev and incentives for somewhere like Fortnite. It arguably has the incentives to sell unique skins, and the blockchain/NFT use is at minimum a solid marketing ploy, at maximum actually worth doing if they do charge out the a* for a unique skin as the customer would want to know it’s as such.


Fair enough. I may be misunderstanding the point.

Which NFTs do literally nothing to solve.

Are you an art collector? Because I'm getting real tired of criticisms of NFTs that actually apply quite generally to the entire art collection space.

I am not an art collector, but as I understand it, the most important thing that they care about, even before aesthetics of an art piece, is *provenance*. That is, who created it, and who has owned it since it was created. NFTs provide a nearly unforgeable cryptographic record of both of those things, and are therefore a perfect fit for this market.


Isn't one other difference the fact that when you own a physical art piece, you have the option of hanging the original on your wall and claiming the exclusive right to see or move it whenever and however you want? Especially if you explicitly don't want other people to see it, for whatever reason, and if you particularly appreciate being able to stand an inch away from it without a security guard yelling at you.

With most NFT implementations, everything you're getting is 100% public and can be bit-for-bit seen, downloaded, and redistributed by anyone. (There's always the possibility of off-chain solutions that grant access to exclusive content only if you prove you own the token, and they're built into some platforms. But these seem to mostly be novelties at this point, and with current solutions there's always the risk of the provider getting hacked and all the exclusive content leaking, etc.)

This is why it's hard to equate piracy with theft and NFT ownership with physical painting ownership, I think. You can probably equate the speculative parts of art collection to it, where the collector (or "investor") may never actually care about the work intrinsically and may never be closer than 1000 miles away from it because they view it solely as a financial asset. No idea what % of the current physical art collection market is like that, though.


> Isn't one other difference the fact that when you own a physical art piece, you have the option of hanging the original on your wall and claiming the exclusive right to see or move it whenever and however you want?

You definitely have control over the physical object. You don't, however, have control over whether or not the artist can sell prints. The artist retains the copyright and will be able to sell prints, including signed or limited edition prints, without your permission. This might not apply if you commissioned the work (e.g. it's a portrait of yourself or your family), but then the same principle would apply to a purely digital artwork.

In general, thinking about NFTs in terms of ownership of the original work, or of the copyright, is a mistake, and one that the article also makes. For some reason people seem to expect that buying an NFT ought to confer ownership of the copyright, or that it's somehow remarkable that it does not (the OP says "Sundaresan doesn’t own the copyright to Everydays. All he bought was a non-fungible token (NFT)"). But physical art doesn't work that way, and I'm not sure why we would assume any differently for digital art. NFTs are best understood as providing a mechanism for creating the equivalent of autographed prints, which is valuable for digital artists because nobody wants to buy their original AfterEffects or Processing or Blender files.


> You can probably equate the speculative parts of art collection to it, where the collector (or "investor") may never actually care about the work intrinsically and may never be closer than 1000 miles away from it because they view it solely as a financial asset.

Even this, I assume, is based on the assumption that someone, someday will want to do what you describe (hang it on a wall and have exclusive access) and pay you for the privilege to do so. Right now, that isn't really possible with an NFT.


Maybe. Or maybe there are enough pure speculators where some art really does just get passed around for a century to different investors despite remaining in some storage facility the whole time? Don't know anything about art collection, so I have no clue.

The blockchain only tracks ownership of the NFT itself. It doesn't keep track of who owns the art piece. As such it doesn't provide a record of the "provenance" of the art piece at all.

> That is, who created it, and who has owned it since it was created.

How do you link the provenance of a piece of art to an NFT? i.e what's the difference between an artist agreeing to the NFT being minted and a grifter creating an NFT on a marketplace that's trying to link it to the artist's work?


The difference would be the artist’s agreement you just mentioned

Yeah, but some bytes on a blockchain somewhere prove nothing about that.

Right; impostor NFTs are rampant, unfortunately.

I imagine solutions to mitigate this will become more common on the big platforms at some point. (I briefly considered maybe trying to work on one.) An NFT listing could contain some kind of publicly verifiable authenticity certificate issued by a separate (semi-?)decentralized service that just does things like authenticity verification.

For example, they could perhaps have a procedure where an NFT minter (such as an artist) has to, among other things, sign and post some message across at least 5 social media accounts confirming they created a token with that contract address and token ID. If after ~10 days the claimed individual re-affirms the signed messages and no issues are found (e.g. account compromise), the certificate could be validated and the NFT could be marked as verifiably attributable.

Theoretically, an NFT smart contract could also maybe even try to bake part of it into the logic and NFT metadata, rather than it being just at the platform level.

We're really still in the early Wild West days of smart contracts, dapps, tokens, etc. It probably will feel a bit less sketchy in a few years. Maybe.


The address that it's minted from is well documented on the blockchain.

You still have to link this address to the external entity you're trying to represent.

Sure, but if it's an artist you're trying to establish provenance for it's pretty easy. Most artists who are coveted mint through curated platforms. Those who don't might mint directly on opensea where they will have verified accounts tied to their address. It's pretty easy to do this kind of due diligence.

So? Did anyone claim that it does? How is provenance for physical works tracked? It’s just using a database with a nice composable public API. People are excited because you can use it in the context of other smart contracts, do it without permission from some art “authority”, and so on.

Maybe they should stop advertising NFTs to the average people and only focus on the art-collection market. I'm real tired of seeing NFTs everywhere like it's the next stock market panacea.

> "but as I understand it, the most important thing that they care about, even before aesthetics of an art piece, is provenance"

early stage Physical BTC collector here to say yep, chain of custody is super important for collectibles in general. Provenance is king.


You don’t see value in it because you don’t have any money you need to launder.

I wish!

> I see no value

> I still think it would be cool to own one

Cool enough to pay more than $0? Perhaps there could be an NFT so cool-to-own for you that you would VALUE it at $1?


> I see no value in NFTs as a means of investing

Do you think people are investing in NFTs or gambling?


A little bit of both.

How much would it cost to make a convincing reproduction of this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit_(Koons)

Or this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Square_(painting)

The value of these artworks is already only in the provenance certificates.


I'm still waiting for this NFT craze to die off. There is nothing to see here.

[flagged]


Please don't use HN for flamewar. Such discussions become less interesting and nastier as they go along, and we're trying to head in a different direction here.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


[flagged]


"Please don't post insinuations about astroturfing, shilling, brigading, foreign agents and the like. It degrades discussion and is usually mistaken."

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

https://hn.algolia.com/?sort=byDate&dateRange=all&type=comme...


The LRB is greatly bankrolled by the family fund of one of the founding editors, so I doubt they would ever care to take money for an article.



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