Aaaand it's that time of the year again. Carols and decorations descending en masse, consumerism in full throttle. Mulled wine and hot rum stave off the briskness of creeping winter weather, encouraging a spirit of holiday fervour… Unless you live in Australia, like me, where the hot and suffocating sun only seems to energise our mosquito mates! A stultifying setting, hardly reminiscent of the wondrous scenes up north.
Nonetheless, 'tis the season of giving, family, new year's resolutions, and a time of reflection. As we ponder the past two years, clouds of market uncertainty are increasingly occupying a darkening sky where the dwindling rays of quick profits are clinging to the horizon. The days of moonshots and unlimited cash feel further away than ever. Call me santa-mental, but where did the excitement go? What happens next?
I love this space, and you love this space, but some things need to change. If you were expecting a heart-warming article, sorry to disappoint, but I'm feeling cynical. Yet, in the spirit of giving, I bequeath to you: Jasmine's "NFTmas Wish List" for 2023! Amazing! Santa Baby, so hurry down the chimney when...
Let's start with a bang (or bust). "Royalties" are conditions an artist sets for transacting or using their art. As a degen, I understand the argument against them regarding trading accessibility and volume. Yet, I can't help but sympathise with freelance artists on whom this space is (arguably) built.
The problem in the NFT space is that the understanding of royalties diverged from its historical roots. It became the sole revenue stream for numerous neo-startups. This is problematic because it would be ridiculous in any other business context. Solitary reliance on "royalties" does not incentivise innovation. Neither does it create an impetus for teams to add value, only hype. Project teams such as marketers, community managers, developers, and "staff" members – are not artists. Membership passes are not art. They should not be reliant on artists' royalties. Find a way to monetise your business. Innovate! I hear that's what everyone else is doing.
So, no, I'm not crying tears of injustice over the 10k "community" that netted 200+ ETH during mint. Still, I empathise with the freelance artists who have lost the monetary incentive to create art. I'd like to see some middle ground where we delineate between artists and startups. Buckle up, however, for an ongoing stalemate. Nothing is being enforced via smart-contract.
There, I said it. Enough projects already! It was exciting when Apes refined generative art. Or when Wolf Game popularised an intriguing new gaming mechanic. Alpha groups and botting tools tokenised membership, and Goblins captured a social media movement. It's momentarily amusing but ultimately disappointing. Dozens of new projects replicating the same old used-and-abused concepts every. Single. Week. Without. Fail.
It's like eating lukewarm pizza. It may have worked when the demand existed to sustain it. But nowadays, it's all the same people, flittering like flies over repackaged goods with marginal price increases that die a quick but oh-so-painful death. This one features an anime figure staring to the left instead of the right! How innovative!
C'mon guys, these are shitcoins with pictures. Too many so called "founders" mint projects that just aren't necessary. The space was formerly characterised by pioneering metas. Now it reeks of haphazard attempts at innovation. Applying for your right to instantly dump a collection alongside everybody else isn't revolutionary. I hate to break it to you scarcity is a strength. It's time for us to place quality over quantity. Stop supporting cash grabs and teams that hoard funding for startups and don't distribute equity. These projects are for the streets. The tech is what drew us in, the tech is what excites us, and the tech is what offers us unfettered possibilities. Let's shift focus to those utilising the blockchain in unique ways. Please.
If you read my endearing little introduction, you'd have guessed there's at least one type of repellent on my mind this Christmas. Goodness, I hate mosquitoes. How about a repellent tailored toward the influencer/clout-chasing culture permeating our community? Can't buy that at 7-11.
Unfortunately, much of the movements of this space are contingent on hype rather than substance. This is unsurprising in a fledgling market. Symptoms of products lacking application or hard value. A characterisation that we should be trying to move away from, not perpetuating.
Projects sell out at high prices due to a tweet from a celebrity or a trader with numerous followers. This zombie behaviour isn't good. We relegate ourselves to a market akin to designer fashion - ignoring the beguiling technical qualities of blockchain that we should be focusing on. After all, everybody bought Balenciaga due to celebrity-induced doe-eyed syndrome, and we've recently seen how that turned out…
Also, the clout chasing in NFTs is reaching dangerously carcinogenic levels. Take a leisurely scroll through Twitter, and you'll encounter a slew of posts regurgitating the same talking points. Advice, hot takes, and cold takes, while people clamour for likes, retweets and followers. If you've ever had to deal with an ant infestation, you'll recognise the skin-crawling feeling I'm talking about here. Let's be real. Many of these threads are vacuous and fluffier than a cavoodle, leaving you wondering where the last 5 minutes went. Original content and unique takes are great, but there's too much repetition and unhelpful advice (how's that for an oxymoron).
🧵 The thread emoji would be better used to bind some fingers instead, possibly preventing further unnecessary typing. Trust me, I should be using it on myself right now. Also, the excessive sucking up in alpha groups... really needs to stop.
Okay, this one's more optimistic. I've noticed a nebulous overlapping of NFT project categories, and this stifles goals. However, it presents an excellent opportunity for better marketing and community-building. Regardless of project goals, everything tends to attract the same crowd, to typically deleterious effects. I'd love to see more holder differentiation at mint. From lore-building/storytelling projects (Jenkins, KPR, SmashVerse), lifestyle communities (Valhalla, Juuni), utility projects (Insrt, Thunder) to art collectors (ArtBlocks).
As things stand, interlopers (flippers) from each demographic lead to a messy free-for-all, compromising the ability of these projects to deliver. That could be because we're a small space or because project teams are greedy and favour catch-all sales. Perhaps it's because hype traders suck. Who knows!
Targeted community-building will garner an on-chain story and a proper appreciation for art. A lifestyle community of like-minded people. Application meta is a step in the right direction here; unfortunately, it catered toward follower count rather than genuine interest. Suddenly every alpha group is full of streetwear and steampunk enthusiasts. Did you notice?
To projects and groups seeking a refined audience: have conviction, direction and (proper) curation. Like fanfic communities, find your niche and nurse it obsessively.
First, there was BetterDiscord, next, BetterDegens. Hopefully! I can't lie here - ruthless degens with a strict flipping mindset have made hella bags, and I'd be a hypocrite to suggest otherwise. As the market simmers down though, the detrimental effects of this become apparent. Comprising what seems like 90% of the user base, relentless flippers trading on tiny margins have left a gaping hole that no future projects can realistically hope to fill. The remaining gamblers can't hope to win against the house and are simultaneously packing it up. Day trading works on the stock market because it's built on a broader foundation of real, tangible value. This isn't sustainable on web3 until we've built web3 first.
Going forward, I'd like to see the proponents of NFT legitimacy starting to treat the space in a legitimate way. For reference, startups often take months or years to see value. Yet, a project is proclaimed dead with what seems like a pre-drafted, eagerly executed eulogy a mere two days after mint if the floor price dips. Buttressing my previous point, toxic behaviours like botting and instant flipping are now also prevalent in ArtBlocks. Stifling art, a bright spot in the space, the ability to gain and maintain legitimacy. I'd love to see a pivot to conviction investing and product valuation based on research and quality project foundations. The current clamour to dump bags and immediately look to purchase your next dopamine hit stunts growth in the space and is getting tiresome. Yawn. Inducing narcolepsy isn't a very good use case.
On another note, enough paid alpha groups already! It's not alpha if everyone's doing it. That's beta.
Complementing my last wish, there has been talk of "good actors" of late, with a vague focus on high morale customers, founders, etc. To everybody, this means different things. Do we want bastions of decentralisation? High-powered traders and marketers to promote further degen opportunities? Builders committed to the ongoing development and relevance of web3 tech? The answer lies somewhere between, and as a collective, we'd be doing ourselves a big favour to define it and act with some solidarity.
Without decentralisation, much of this space's magic is lost, consumer power is reduced, and heavy regulation impairs traders and builders alike. Without vivacious traders and marketing, there's no stimulus for development nor impetus to maintain decentralisation. Without builders, progress stalls, and we lose the need for either of the other two. If we want web3 to succeed, we need to realise the interconnectedness of each group and stress accountability for our actions. For founders, this is obvious (*ahem* SBF). For consumers, we need to reduce behavioural toxicity to allow the space to breathe. There's give and take with everything, but if the common goal is to build a thriving web3 space and become early adopters of revolutionary technology, it's best we unite behind that and clear out all the "quick money" actors and irresponsible founders. This involves identifying and elevating the right people with a genuine love for web3, innovation, and community rather than those motivated solely by attention or money. Morality is the best form of decentralised self-regulation.
It's dope seeing the charitable nature of the NFT space - I recall countless giveaways, sales and projects pledging proceeds to numerous charities and causes. Sadly, there are equally as many projects using charity as a focal point of their sales pitch and siphoning funds for themselves. Next year, I'd love to see more transparency: receipts, publicly accessible blockchain transactions and overt collaborations, with a departure of consumers in the absence of these conditions. If charity is the main pitch and there is no evidence to back it up, it's tantamount to a shady middle-man, and who needs that? Manipulating people's kindness is low, but this is the real world, and we need to collectively do a better job of protecting ourselves from scammy insincerity.
On a similar note, all of the grandstanding about "X" empowerment... underscoring certain teams and projects is unnerving and, quite frankly, superfluous. In a space filled chiefly with anons who don't reveal their arbitrary personal characteristics. I'm instantly cautious of these lacklustre attempts at social justice - they strike me as nothing more than a marketing ploy that seeks to manipulate consumers' good intentions. For instance, as a woman in the web3 space, I'm quite happy to just be treated like everybody else. I find the constant obsession surrounding gender somewhat disconcerting. Not to mention hollow. Someone tweets #WomenInNFTs and then proceeds to simp a waifu collection or engage in a hormonally-driven meta. Which is fine, of course - just treat everyone with respect and leave it at that. White knights be gone.
I'd like to see an expansion in web3's reach. If your project only has a website, Discord and Twitter, how would someone outside the space possibly find it? There are plenty of non-web3 native platforms like Instagram, TikTok and in-person, which we progressed considerably in 2022. We should also try to eliminate international barriers. Most internet searches for NFTs come from non-English speaking countries. Cross-cultural dialogue and translation should be a focus point for future globally-minded projects. It's great that certain art and products have universal desirability, but we should continue to build communities that involve and welcome an international crowd.
This is less specific to the NFT space and moreso, y'know, the world. I know it's in season, but eggnog really isn't that good. More Jasmine Tea, please. And with that - happy holidays!
Special thanks to @notPeterNFT @mickross_ @s3alec @TheKrka @jpegy_ for some great discussion points.