WTF is an NFT

If you’re reading this - you’ve heard of an NFT. Everyone and their nan is talking about NFTs. Buut if you ask someone to explain what an NFT actually was, or how we should use them- you’d probably get blank faces, or some murmurs about art or blockchain.
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WTF is an NFT

If you’re reading this - you’ve heard of an NFT. Everyone and their nan is talking about NFTs. 

Most people I meet either know bits and bobs about NFTs, or think they know everything about NFTs. Within the know-it-all camp, there are two schools of thought: “it’s the whole future” or “it’s a total hype”. Neither is true. 

And if you asked one of these people to explain what an NFT actually was - you’d probably get blank faces, or some murmurs about art or blockchain. So I’m going to try and do a bit of a 101 and explain it in English.

The truth is, the human behaviour of ownership and trading valuable assets is not new. From kids’ football cards to Picasso paintings –– the human desire to own and collect has shown to be timeless and true across all ages. The bit that is new and exciting is the tech and the opportunities that the tech makes possible. 


An NFT is basically a certificate that proves that a digital asset is unique. 

A common misconception is that an NFT is a digital asset itself - it is not. It’s the certificate or receipt that proves your digital asset is authentic and owned by you.

So in the physical world, you might have a certificate to prove your Louis Vuitton handbag or Monet painting is real. In the digital world, it’s even easier to make fakes, copies or take screenshots - so NFTs act as the equivalent in the digital space. 


NFT stands for non-fungible tokens.

Fungibility is when something is exchangeable or replaceable with an identical item. It’s not unique. If I have a tenner, I can swap it with a tenner that my friend has- and it will be worth the same. A tenner.

When something is non-fungible, it means it is unique and irreplaceable. For example, if there was a tenner that David Bowie had used to scribble the lyrics down for Heros in a cafe in Paris, that tenner would not be worth the same as my tenner.

A tenner is fungible. A tenner doodled on by Bowie is non-fungible.

NFTs are tokens that we can use to represent ownership of unique items.


We have shown and proved we can create, own and track unique digital assets - but what now? We’re coming down from the peak of inflated expectations and people are starting to question - what the future is for NFTs. The NFT market is currently very profit driven at the moment. 

The hype cycle provides a graphical and conceptual presentation of the maturity of emerging technologies through five phases. What usually happens is a new technology is triggered, and there is a peak where everyone gets incredibly excited about the tech. This is usually followed by the trough of disillusionment as people realise the tech isn’t quite ready for the dream they’ve been promised. Once technologists and creatives realise what is possible, we reach  the plateau of productivity. 

We are in the trough of disillusionment.

But this is because the true value of NFTs is being slept on. 

The behaviour around NFTs currently, has the potential to ruin them for everyone. It’s basically rich people, crypto millionaires and celebrities buying and selling them, mostly to make quick cash and to say they own one (eg Paris Hilton and Jimmy Fallon discussing their purchases of "Bored Ape Yacht Club" NFTs on The Tonight Show). And the examples we have seen are mostly generic in terms of creativity (though this is linked to the small group of people in control and dictating what’s marketable). 

NFTs are currently all about greed- not about making change. This is disappointing because the macro technology of NFTs has  the potential to provide a new model that might be able to provide financial stability, creative freedom and community all in one go.


NFTs transform digital works of art and other collectables  into one-of-a-kind, verifiable assets that are easy to trade on the blockchain. 

Blockchain technology and NFTs give artists and content creators a unique opportunity to monetise their work. For example, artists no longer have to rely on galleries or auction houses to sell their art. And musicians don’t have to rely on labels and streaming services in the same way. Instead, the artist can sell it directly to the consumer as an NFT, which also lets them keep more of the profits.

The reality is, major computing waves generally have two eras: the skeuomorphic era and the native era. In the skeuomorphic era, design thinking is largely adapted from older domains. For example, the early web was mostly digital adaptations of pre-internet activities like letter writing and mail-order shopping. Another example is when online shopping was first conceptualised, people would literally build online shops online. 

The reason that most NFTs are created in the art world is that we are borrowing our most familiar use case of ownership by certificate - but if we looked at the macro technology - the potentials are truly endless.


NFTs provide access and ownership.

What if you purchase an NFT and get access to sneaker drops before anyone else? What if you get an NFT of an up-and-coming  artist who needs some capital and you get backstage access to all their gigs forever? What if you connected an NFT to a physical product which should unlock whole new revenue streams?

Verified, one-of-a-kind  assets

With NTFs, artists are able to create limited edition digital files of their artwork that each contain a signature in its code that can’t be replicated. The file within the NFT can be copied, but not the signature.

Royalty attachment 

Artists can attach a royalty arrangement to their NFT, meaning every time the NFT is resold, the artist gets a percentage 

Fans can invest in your career

Through buying and trading pieces of an artist. fans are directly investing in the career. 

Cutting out the middleman

NFTs give artists more control over their art, enabling them to sell directly to the public and cutting out the intermediary

Deeper relationship with fans

There’s now the option of a direct transaction between the people who make music and the people who listen to it—there’s no label, distributor, streaming platform, or social media platform involved.

what now?

Until the ‘metaverse’ or the virtual world we will play in, becomes more developed and mature, it’s interesting for us to think about how we can use NTFs to augment and innovate IRL moments in the physical world, by meshing digital and physical together, for example, ticketing. 

There is a utility vs clout conversation. It either needs to DO something or allow you to express yourself in some way. The brands that will win in this space will tie NFTs to culture, identity and give users the ability to do something or say something in the digital world that they are already expressing themselves in.