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Okay, when you think of digital media, you probably think of something like a video on YouTube. Something that you can access any time you want and for free. But NFT, a relatively new technology, is being used to make pieces of digital media sellable. It is taking the art world by storm now and art lovers, basketball fans and collectors alike are freaking out about it. This week, I will try to explain the latest internet buzzword.

NFT stands for “non-fungible token”. That means you can’t exchange it for another thing of equal value. Unlike a €10 bill that can be exchanged for two €5 bills. Or a gold bar that can be swapped for another gold bar of the same size. Those things are fungible. But an NFT is one of a kind.

To understand what is going on with art, we first have to take a little dive into cryptocurrency. So cryptocurrency is a kind of digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange. It is digital money that can be exchanged for real-world goods and services. And it is not issued by any central government like the non-digital money we use. It is created by users. Individual (cryptocurrency) coin ownership records are stored in a ledger, a computerized database. This ledger is based on a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized technology spread across a lot of computers and servers all over the world that uses strong cryptography to secure transaction records, controls the creation of additional coins, and verifies the transfer of coin ownership. In other words, it maintains the existence of cryptocurrency, and manages and records transactions. All in a super-secure way.

We all kinda know that all money is imaginary nowadays after the gold standard was abandoned. But cryptos are like extra imaginary, right?

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) can be linked to digital photos, videos, or digital artwork. So you can own a digital photo for instance. Not the copyright to it. You can own the digital photo itself. You can also, of course, download a version, but that’s just a copy. So while digital photos can be copied indefinitely, NFTs can’t. And you can own the original. Like with any other art, every original piece has an owner. NFTs are digital assets that use blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies, to create unique tokens. Each token has its own identity that is not replicable assuring each digital asset is unique and unchangeable. These tokens serve as a unique and non-hackable digital certificate of authenticity for original editions of digital art. You can buy them by bidding online. You can transfer them or sell them.

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Burnt Banksy

Earlier this month, Injective Protocol, a blockchain company, bought a $95,000 Banksy artwork, burnt it somewhere in Brooklyn, and live-streamed through the Twitter account BurntBanksy as part of a process of turning the artwork into a non-fungible token, or NFT. Banksy is an anonymous artist creating graffiti, photos, and short films.

This was the first major event in which a physical artwork was turned into a unique digital asset. The original artwork was one of an edition of 500. The blockchain guys entirely recreated the physical piece and input digital specifications, such as the art version number into the code, so no one can ever alter the digital piece in any way.

NBA Top Shot

NBA Top Shot is taking over the world as fans and collectors go crazy over digital images. And we all kinda look on and scratching our heads. And asking “What are these Top Shot things?”. Well, they are simply digital basketball cards. But futuristic and cool. NBA calls them “digital moments” of NBA games.

NBA is partnering with Dapper Labs, a blockchain company, to run an online forum for trading digital basketball cards. They are video clips from recent seasons wrapped in a special design. Each one is unique, impossible to counterfeit, and immediately authenticated — using blockchain and serial numbers. So you know your 97/499 Tomáš Satoranský dumping off a great low post pass is the ninety-seventh of those four hundred ninety-nine Tomáš Satoranský’s assists made.


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