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Opinion: Buying a tweet for millions? Welcome to nonfungible tokens

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I’m selling the digital image of my headshot in this column for a mere $100,000.

Congratulations, you now have purchased an image that, despite your ownership, can be downloaded and saved onto every computer that views this article online.

Sound crazy? Besides the fact that Springfield Business Journal owns the rights to this headshot (let’s put that aside for the sake of this column) and I’m not famous, similar sales could be the wave of the future in the art world.

Enter nonfungible tokens, one of the latest digital crazes.

The gist of an NFT, according to a March article from The Verge titled, “NFTs, explained,” is that media buyers can acquire a piece of digital art backed by blockchain. In this way, the buyer gains ownership of the work in a kind of new form of digital collecting. Think of it as a way to gain internet clout or, rather, to support an artist financially. The odd thing is, according to The Verge article, the artist may retain the copyright and reproduction rights, and because the piece is on the internet, copies of it are free rein.

NFTs already have been used by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, who sold his first tweet, which reads “just setting up my twttr,” for nearly $3 million. Christie’s in March announced it had auctioned off a digital collage by an artist named Beeple for almost $70 million, and a popular meme, dubbed Disaster Girl, sold for close to $500,000 worth of cryptocurrency at an NFT auction, according to media reports.

Of course, as the owner of the NFT, you could reproduce it as a piece of physical artwork in your home or business. But that seems like a very expensive print, at best.

Beyond supporting artists, this one is a bit wacky to me. As they say, a fool and his money are soon parted, I suppose.

Years down the road, I may be invited to eat crow, and I welcome the opportunity to be wrong about this.

Fun back in Facebook
While I’m discussing digital topics, I wanted to quickly plug a simple tool that, to me, has made Facebook enjoyable once more.

This might be relatable only to my age group, but when I was in college, Facebook was in its infancy and served as an extension of our lives that was entertaining. I remember meeting people in real life and thinking they were interesting enough to talk to digitally. Facebook walls were more stream of consciousness, and it was a much more personal experience. Plus, since our parents and employers didn’t have one yet, the party atmosphere that permeated college made its way onto Facebook, as well.

These days, everyone and their mother has a Facebook page, and while that has worked well for the company’s shareholders and bottom line, and admittedly connecting more people together, it can be a place where hope goes to die. Check out local news article comment sections on Facebook, if you doubt that statement. It can get downright ugly. Side note: Thanks SBJ readers, for keeping ours pretty tame.

Here’s my suggestion for bringing the fun back: Facebook groups.

During the pandemic, especially, when people were bored and stuck at home, I saw Facebook groups on all manners of topic become popular and widespread on the website. And unlike the standard Facebook wall, groups have more strict rules and a singular purpose where one can talk in depth about a topic they’re interested in, whether that’s a band, a movie or something sillier – where everyone pretends to be ants. (I quickly got bored of that last one.)

Facebook can serve as a place to make social issues more noticeable, and that has its use in creating awareness for worthy causes. But often, due to partisan bickering, these issues are struck with hateful and disparaging comments from all sides.

To counter the doom-scrolling, why not try groups?

Springfield Business Journal Digital Editor Geoff Pickle can be reached at gpickle@sbj.net.

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