Technology, ey? Always changing on us. We think we're getting to grips with what's what, the PayPals and on-phone wallets. Selling things on eBay. Then all of a sudden, it's the 'Blockchain' with its cryptocurrencies and NFTs.
'Just what the heck is an NFT? I barely get Bitcoins' You say.
Which is absolutely fair enough. No stress though, we have you covered (at least enough to let you roughly explain it to someone else).
What is an NFT?
Okay, so simply put – a non-fungible token is something that is not fungible. Nothing to do with fungi, no, fungible is a word that essentially means it can be exchanged for the same thing: You can have a fiver, and someone else can have a fiver, you can switch them and all is good still.
Non-fungibles are the opposite. So, if I have a burger and you have some nuggets and we switch, I don't have a burger anymore, I have nuggets. You own the burger now.
Hungry now. Okay, so I get what it means. But what are they?
Also hungry. So, they're a token that is not fungible. A digital token, not far off a digital equivalent to a certificate of authenticity you get when you have a piece of physical art, or some signed memorabilia. The reason they seem a bit alienating is that this certificate is made using Blockchain technology. The same mysterious tech thing behind cryptocurrency. We're not going to get into that here beyond saying it's sort of like a log book for a car or some other possession that you own and sell on.
The difference being it is stored publicly, it's anonymous, and it's very difficult to manipulate. So it's basically a super secure log book that is in public hands. If you want to deep-dive on Blockchain, this video is pretty good.
Back to NFTs. They're a token that is a certificate of authenticity to show that you own the asset. This data is stored in Blockchain so it's secure. At the moment, NFTs are all the rage with digital art, memes, and tweets, but they can be many more digital things too.
Let's stick with art, because it's easier. Think of the Mona Lisa. That is owned by someone, let's call them Jo. Jo owns the Mona Lisa, which means they bought the Mona Lisa and they could auction it if they wanted to. At that point, someone else will own the Mona Lisa. This is the same, but online.
But couldn't I just screenshot it?
Yeah you could, but if we think of the real-life art again, you can buy a print of the Mona Lisa and you could even make a fake of it. Neither of these are the original, and validated as the original. Having the NFT for a digital asset means you have proof it is the original, and that you own the original. The whole copyright aspect of it is the same as real art too. The artist (let's not get pedantic and think about record labels and that) owns the copyright, but someone else can own the piece of art itself.
Why does anyone care about this?
Money, and other things, but money. The founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, sold his first ever tweet as a NFT, for $2.9 million. You can see it below.
So why is Paris Hilton saying she knew about this?
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal recently, as part of their Future of Everything festival she says she sold an NFT in "March 2020".
Hilton explains what an NFT can be in the video, stating she loves how it "gives power back to the creator".
Paris Hilton has mentioned her interest in art collecting previously, and last year she exhibited a series of paintings. Her move into the world of NFTs over a year ago might not sound like it was all that long ago, but the digital world moves very fast and it is fair to say she was ahead of the curve. More recently, in April 2021, Paris Hilton sold an entire collection of NFTs for just over a million dollars.
Do you want just your normal art again? How about a virtual tour of almost every major London museum and gallery
For something more physical, here's the best art magazines