Category: Blog

What are NFTs? And why are they important?

You may have heard of NFTs before. You may even know that NFT stands for non-fungible tokens. But you might not know exactly what that means and why this new technology is important for artists, creators, and businesses.

Chances are you first heard about NFTs from a news story about an eye-popping purchase price, like when the artist Beeple auctioned off his digital art piece Everydays: The First 5,000 Days for $ 69 million:

Photo from Christie’s auction house

Or when Jimmy Fallon bought a Bored Ape for $ 220,000:

Before we get into why NFTs are important, beyond these astronomical price tags, let’s first start by learning the basics.

What does non-fungible mean?

A fungible item is one that can be replaced by an identical item. Think of a dollar bill. My $ 1 bill has the same purchasing power as your $ 1 bill and any other $ 1 bill in circulation. In other words, they’re mutually interchangeable.

A non-fungible item, on the other hand, is unique and cannot be copied or substituted. The Statue of Liberty, the Mona Lisa, and a ticket for a seat at the Super Bowl are all non-fungible items. That is to say, they’re one-of-a-kind.

In the crypto world, if I hold one Ethereum token (ETH), it’s fungible because it’s worth the same as any other ETH token someone else is holding. On the other hand, I currently own a Crypto Coven, a profile picture NFT project featuring drawings of witches with individual lore written for each one. Mine, named soursop the cloudless (pictured below), is a non-fungible token (NFT) because out of all the 9,757 total Crypto Coven NFTs in existence, there’s only one that looks exactly like mine.


Living on the blockchain (sort of)

A blockchain can most easily be described as a decentralized and distributed server. When you interact with a blockchain like Bitcoin, you’re not just sending a transaction to a server farm somewhere as you would in a more centralized ecosystem like Amazon, for example. Instead, thousands of computers (referred to as miners) will verify portions of your transaction simultaneously. This makes the blockchain incredibly secure and essentially unhackable.

A token is simply a crypto asset that lives on the blockchain. There are many different tokens and many different blockchains. The most popular blockchain for NFT projects is Ethereum because it was specifically created to enable developers to build projects on top of it. NFTs contain code called a smart contract — a computer program stored on the blockchain that runs when certain conditions are met (more on this later).

At this point, you might be picturing my Crypto Coven NFT just kind of hanging out on the blockchain until I decide to sell it. That would only be partially true.

Blockchains are fairly limited when it comes to storage space. This is by design because everything that ever occurs on the blockchain will remain there in perpetuity. There’s a record that represents my ownership of my NFT on the Ethereum blockchain, but the image itself is not on the blockchain. So where is it? Images and other digital assets are typically stored elsewhere. IPFS, the Interplanetary File System is one of the most popular storage solutions because it is also a decentralized protocol.

There are some on-chain NFTs, meaning they’re fully stored on the blockchain. The most famous of which is Cryptopunks, a collection of 10,000 pixelated characters currently selling for a minimum of 62 ETH ($ 201,894.95). Cryptopunks are also one of the first-ever NFT projects and therefore one of the most sought after. Case in point, CryptoPunk # 3100 was the highest ever sold at 4,200 ETH ($ 7.58M).


The key takeaway here is that an NFT is a contract on the blockchain that signifies who owns a digital asset.

Why NFTs will be important for creators and businesses

Let’s go back to the concept of smart contracts. As I wrote above, a smart contract is a computer program stored on the blockchain that runs when certain conditions are met. So what kind of conditions are we talking about here and how can they be used by creators and businesses?

With collectible art projects, royalties can be programmed into the smart contract. Typically royalties are set at around 10%. This means that every time the NFT is sold, a percentage of that sale is programmatically sent to the original creator’s wallet. This guarantees that the original creators are always linked to their projects, a concept called provenance, and they’ll be able to share in the upside as their work becomes more well known.

Digital provenance is groundbreaking for art collectors who previously had to rely on authenticity experts to determine if a piece of artwork is the real deal or not. And it’s estimated that up to 20% of paintings owned by museums could be inauthentic. But if there is a record of provenance on the blockchain, it’s immutable and verifiable forever. So if an unauthorized copy is created, it’s trivial to figure out that it’s a fake.

In some cases, creators have granted full commercial licensing rights to whomever owns their NFTs. There are now two different craft brew companies using Bored Ape NFTs artwork — North Pier Brewing Company’s Bored Ape IPA and Alternate Ending Beer Co.’s limited-edition “Drink Your Peas” beer can featuring Bored Ape # 3500.

Bored Ape IPA label

Other uses for NFTs

While the most popular — and expensive — NFT projects thus far are for visual art, there are many other use cases.

We’re already seeing music NFTs gain in popularity. Jonathan Mann, who has been recording a new song each day for over 4,700 days in a row, is selling his video as NFTs. The popular band Kings of Leon sold lifetime access to VIP seats at their concerts. And musicians are doing this all while maintaining the rights to their own music.

NFTs can also be used to grant special access to online communities. Kevin Rose, the well-known investor and podcaster, recently sold 1,000 NFTs that gave owners access to his PROOF Collective community, a token-gated Discord group for serious NFT investors. Similarly, Invisible College, a learning organization I’m working on for crypto and web3-curious builders and creators, is launching a collection of 10,000 NFTs called Decentraliens that will grant lifetime access to courses, events, programming, and the learning community.

Flyfish Club, founded by serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, is a private dining club at a new sushi restaurant being built in New York City. NFT owners will get access to the restaurant and various culinary, cultural, and social experiences. Not only that, they will be able to sell their access to other people who want to make a reservation.

An event could create NFT-based digital tickets with beautiful commissioned artwork on each one. Instead of pinning them to a corkboard to display them in their house, fans could show them off as part of their online identities and prove that they were there. And depending on the event, they could even be sold to collectors, thus sending royalties that are split with both the event coordinator and the artist. Imagine if Arnold Skolnick, the designer who created the iconic art for the original Woodstock concert was still getting royalties for that work to this day.

The more you descend into the NFT rabbit hole, the more you realize how impactful they can be, especially as our lives become more and more tied to our online identities.

The future of NFTs

Like any new technology, it’s impossible to predict all the ways developers, creators, and businesses will utilize NFTs and their innovative underlying smart contracts.

We will almost certainly see NFTs used for tracking ownership of things like real estate, college degrees, professional licenses, event tickets, and countless other contracts that currently live on pieces of paper. All of those will take time to come to fruition. And in some cases, most people might not even know NFT technology is being used for them.

Ultimately, the limit to what is possible with NFTs is up to our imagination.

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wpadmin February 10, 2022 0 Comments

Web 3.0 and the dawn of the metaverse

Suppose you had the chance to buy a piece of the Internet in 1995, when only 16 million people were using it, and own a slice of what would become the world’s communications network. Would you pass up on that deal today?

The Internet is about to enter its third phase, and the earlier people understand this, especially creators and businesses trying to make money, the more successful you’re likely to be.

Web 3.0 will give you digital property rights in a secure marketplace. So instead of renting websites and social media pages from big tech companies, you can own assets on blockchain networks like Ethereum or Solana.

Just like companies rushed to get online decades ago, future businesses will issue NFTs to customers. Some may sell goods and services in a virtual reality metaverse. As an entrepreneur, you might be wondering how a decentralized Internet will affect your livelihood.

Let’s dive into Web 3.0 and discover why it matters.

Web 3.0, simply explained

Before explaining Web 3.0, we need to understand how the Internet has evolved since the 1990s.

  • Web 1.0: read
  • Web 2.0: read / write / share
  • Web 3.0: read / write / own

Web 1.0

Web 1.0 (1991 to 2004) was when people went on the Internet to read information and look at pictures, such as Wikipedia. You went online by dialing in with a landline telephone, and there was no way of sharing content apart from email.

Blogs, journals, and chat forums were the village halls of the early Internet.

The seeds of web empires began to bloom during this era, including Yahoo, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

You might remember Web 1.0 as the read-only Internet.

Web 2.0

Web 2.0 (2004 – present) is when the Internet became social. With the advent of the iPhone in 2007, we moved from going online a few hours a day to an “always-on” state – the Internet was now in everyone’s pocket.

Unlike in the 1990s, where you passively read websites on a personal computer, you could now share content, talk to friends, and interact with strangers on smartphone apps.

But that’s where many of today’s problems began as Meta (formerly Facebook), Google, and Twitter have become unaccountable monopolies selling your data, disregarding your Internet privacy, and controlling your ability to make money online.

Web 3.0

Web 3.0 looks to give power back to users.

In the Internet’s third phase, you won’t have to rent space from Big Tech companies anymore. Instead, you can own digital property on blockchain software like Ethereum and Solana and receive compensation for the value you create on them.

Let’s say you’re a musician or a tech podcaster. You can create a private record label and distribute content directly to listeners instead of giving a cut of your sales to Spotify or SoundCloud.

Creators and businesses are building decentralized apps (dApps) on peer-to-peer blockchain networks, selling items to their followers, including exclusive access to virtual goods like NFTs.

Yeti on mobile with shield

What are dApps?

dApps are like regular apps but run on blockchain software instead of platforms like the App Store or Google Play. Because they’re decentralized, dApps provide:

  • Greater security against cyber attacks, as there’s no central place to ‘hack.’
  • They can’t be shut down or censored, as no single institution owns them.
  • Offer ownership and income opportunities through crypto tokens.
  • Allow users to retain control of their data.

dApps are disrupting the small business landscape, allowing you to build and own online stores, media, and content services.

Ethereum and Solana have dApps for every category, including finance, gaming, NFT marketplaces, and more.

If you use dApps, you’ll pay a transaction (or gas) fee for every interaction you make. These fees compensate the miners for the energy required to verify transactions and provide extra security by making it too expensive for hackers to spam the network.

What DeFi means for small businesses

Similarly, decentralized finance (DeFi) apps are helping creators and businesses transform their financing. With DeFi, you can earn interest, borrow, land, exchange assets, and more – but it doesn’t require approval from a bank.

DeFi is a peer-to-peer financial system that’s open to everyone, regardless of your background, salary, or credit rating. It can help billions of unbanked citizens build their first business by providing fast and hassle-free funding.

So instead of applying for a bank loan, you can make and receive DeFi transactions on Ethereum, Solana, and Cardano.

How do blockchain networks work?

Let’s say you run a business selling vintage soccer shirts on Instagram. If their servers failed for any reason, you would lose your primary revenue channel.

But imagine if Instagram was decentralized on a blockchain network? Everybody would have a piece of it, so to take it down, you would have to take down everybody’s phone, which is nearly impossible.

So who would manage Instagram if there were no central power running it? Well, imagine if Instagram issued a governing cryptocurrency. Anyone holding these tokens would have a say in any changes made to the platform.

The theory is that if you have a monetary stake in something, you have less incentive to ruin it. Now apply that principle to everything: Google, Uber, YouTube, and imagine what’s possible.

That’s what you call a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO).

DAOs made simple

DAOs are a group of individuals pursuing a shared goal on the Internet, using a blockchain network to make decisions. They are like online corporate boards with a shared bank account, disrupting everything from political activism to global art markets.

You could create a DAO for businesses that want to pool their money together to run a coworking space. By holding governing tokens in a DAO, you have voting rights on how it’s run, enforceable by a self-executing smart contract.

DAOs represent governance in a decentralized web, while NFTs are digital assets. So, how do they work together?

When you upload an NFT onto a blockchain network, a DAO will provide the governing structure, ensuring the verifiability of your asset.

yeti with NFT version of himself

What are NFTs exactly?

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are digital collectibles with many use cases, including artwork, music, baseball cards, and movie stills. You cannot replace them with something else. So when you buy or receive one, you’ll receive a certificate of authentication that proves you’re the owner.

A smart contract (a self-executing legal agreement) is similar to the deeds you receive when buying a house. But instead of a mortgage, an NFT stands for ownership on the Internet.

NFTs, therefore, have economic value, just like paintings, vinyl records, and books are worth something.

Why owning an NFT means something

Let’s say you were to ‘NFT-ize’ every frame of Pulp Fiction. If the iconic shot of Vincent (John Travolta) and Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) pointing their guns together became available as an NFT, it would potentially sell for millions of dollars.

How is that different from all the bootleg posters and JPEGs that already exist?

Well, the image isn’t what’s valuable here. It’s the sense of ownership that matters. If you owned this hypothetical NFT, its matrix code, which is validated by a blockchain smart contract, would deem it to be exclusively yours.

You can apply the ownership test to art, music, videos, photography, tweets, and even soccer goal montages.

So if you’re lucky enough ever to own a Pulp Fiction NFT, you may also enjoy exclusive benefits from the sale. While anyone holding fake versions are free to enjoy the image, but nothing more.

The NFT hype machine is growing alongside the metaverse, a virtual reality experience, which may become the Internet’s successor.

The metaverse is a version of the Internet that you’re inside. You’ll enter this new frontier by wearing a mixed-reality headset, creating a virtual twin of yourself, where you’ll socialize with avatar representations of people.

Meta (formerly Facebook) is looking to colonize this new Internet territory before anyone else, given its $ 1T market potential. But there will be multiple metaverses you can explore, not just Meta’s version.

Take Decentraland, an immersive platform like The Sims selling land plots as NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain – so it’s real ownership. Here you can play, explore, and interact with other gamers in a wonderland simulation using its native token, MANA, which allows you to buy digital plots of land.

Why are companies buying digital plots of land?

Corporations are building virtual malls, movie theaters, schools, and museums on Decentraland and The Sandbox because they think that’s where you’ll hang out in the future.

Samsung recently launched its flagship 837X store in Decentraland, enabling digital adventures by replicating its real-world premises in New York City.

Like physical land, you can own and rent out digital properties in Decentraland, monetizing billboards and storefronts to advertisers.

Companies are transitioning away from Web 2.0 towards ambient computing, which will rely on immersive wearable technology. Our smartphones will eventually become tools of the past, with mixed-reality headsets operating as a gateway to the future.

Just think about it.

Netflix or Disney + will end up becoming a place you can literally go. That’s quite a journey from the read-only days of Web 1.0.

Wrapping up Web 3.0

As the metaverse starts to take shape, there’s a feeling that IoT technology is inching closer to a transformative moment in the Internet’s history.

Decentralizing technology is blazing through the economy, and businesses that don’t understand digital ownership will fall behind. History is full of defunct companies that failed to adapt to change.

If you told a florist in 1995, they would sell flowers on a website. They would probably dismiss you as crazy. Well, it’s only a matter of time before small business traders issue NFTs and set up shop in the metaverse.

Web 3.0 is the future of the Internet, and it’s coming faster than you think.

If you’re interested in decentralized blockchain networks, you can experience more freedom and control with handshake domains.


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wpadmin February 8, 2022 0 Comments

The Surprising History of the World’s First Website

You’re reading this on the Internet that’s currently home to an estimated 1.9 billion websites. That’s a billion with a ‘B’. Weirdly enough, though, it’s not all that long since the whole Internet had only one solitary website. This was the first website ever created, launched on August 6, 1991.

It may have been a simple, text-based site with information about the World Wide Web project, but that web page held the seed of all the websites that would rapidly populate the digital landscape over the next three short decades. We are fascinated to tell the story of that first website on the Internet.

The World Wide Web Project

Cyberpunks might have fantasies about the Internet being a radically decentralized, peer-to-peer, non-hierarchical space, but the truth is we have the government to thank for the World Wide Web. More accurately, we have the collaboration between multiple European governments at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) to thank.

The World Wide Web (WWW) Project at CERN was a project led by British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee. He was trying to solve the problem of how to share information, data, and resources between different devices in various locations.

Berners-Lee proposed a solution that used hypertext to connect (or ‘link’) documents stored on separate computers, provided both machines were connected to a newish network called the Internet. Though his first proposal was rejected, his second shot got the backing of his managers and went into production.

In order to turn his vision into a reality, Berner-Lee had first to develop HyperText Markup Language (or HTML, the language used to code web pages), Hypertext Transfer Protocol (or HTTP, the protocol used to fetch HTML files), and Uniform Resource Locators (or URLs, the addresses used to navigate to a web page).

Over 30 years later, HTML, HTTP, and URLs still form the backbone of the Internet we use today.

What Was the First Website

Despite the literally unlimited choice of domain names, Berners-Lee chose to launch the world’s first website at the wildly forgettable address, While that main domain is now home to information about the first website ever, versions of that website are still available to view.

If someone were to navigate to that address in 1991, they would have found a wonderfully retro-looking line-mode version of the website:

Since the green-on-black computer output of the early 90s is likely to make modern Internet users’ heads spin, CERN has kindly also created an updated version of the website suitable for today’s browsers:

But what was actually contained in the world’s first website? Well, since the website was intended to be the starting point for a huge network of interconnected websites – ie the Internet we know today – the first site featured instructions about building other websites.

It provided resources for developers to understand HTML, HTTP, and URLs and explained how hyperlinks could be used to link to the content.

There were no ads, no images, nothing to sell, and nothing to distract you. Berners-Lee simply wanted to inspire others to use the technology he’d built to create digital spaces for themselves and to become more interconnected. His only call to action was to learn and create.

Growth of the Web and the Loss of the First Website

Berners-Lee launched the first website in the middle of 1991, and by 1992 there had been a 1,000% increase in the number of websites. That is to say, by 1992 there were ten web pages live.

By 1994, the World Wide Web had really got some momentum going, with over 3,000 websites accessible on the Internet. At this point, it was possible to list all websites in published directory books, like a phone book.

Physical directories became obsolete and inconvenient in just a couple of years, though. By 1996, more than 2 million websites had been published, which is when Google was launched to help the growing base of Internet users find their way around cyberspace.

This is where we have to come clean: the screenshot of the ‘first website’ above is not the original site Berners-Lee built. In all the excitement around the success and growth of his project, the first website was lost off the Internet.

We only have the example above, thanks to the work of Internet historians, who in 2013 launched a project to recover and revive the first-ever website. Luckily, it turned out that Berners-Lee himself had made a copy of his entire original website onto a floppy disc, which was later tracked down and used to relaunch the site.

It now exists as a kind of online exhibit anyone can visit to gaze into the digital past.

Steve Jobs Helped Create the World Wide Web

Okay, this last subheading might be a little misleading since Steve Jobs never worked at CERN, let alone on the WWW Project. However, the Apple creator did have a small hand in its success.

That’s because the Berners-Lee computer used to build and host the first website ever was a NeXT computer designed by Steve Jobs.

While it might be surprising to hear such a familiar name pop up in this story, it’s worth bearing in mind that the early computing community was relatively small.

We might all spend our lives online today, but back when the first website launched, Internet users were part of a tightly-knit club. Berners-Lee and his contemporaries envisioned a future unimaginable to most.

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wpadmin January 19, 2022 0 Comments