Tag: ownership

Do NFTs tend towards dystopia?

At the weekend I visited the Moco Museum with my wife in Amsterdam. It’s the first time I’ve seen an NFT art exhibition. It wasn’t… bad? But, as someone commented when I said as much on social media, the ownership model is kind of irrelevant. It’s the digital art that matters.

(the animation below is from a video I took of an appropriate Beeple artwork)

What I think we’re all starting to realise is that for everything to be on the blockchain, we would need to fundamentally change the nature of human interaction. And that change would be toward dystopia.

In this article, James Grimmelmann, who is a professor at Cornell Law School and Cornell Tech (where he directs the Cornell Tech Research Lab in Applied Law and Technology) explains just this.

Loosely speaking, there are three kinds of property you could use an NFT to try to control ownership of: physical things like houses, cars, or tungsten cubes; information like digital artworks; and intangible rights like corporate shares.

By default, buying an NFT “of” one of these three things doesn’t give you possession of them. Getting an NFT representing a tungsten cube doesn’t magically move the cube to your house. It’s still somewhere else in the world. If you want NFTs to actually control ownership of anything besides themselves, you need the legal system to back them up and say that whoever holds the NFT actually owns the thing.

Right now, the legal system doesn’t work that way. Transfer of an NFT doesn’t give you any legal rights in the thing. That’s not how IP and property work. Lawyers who know IP and property law are in pretty strong agreement on this.

It’s possible to imagine systems that would tie legal ownership to possession of an NFT. But they’re (1) not what most current NFTs do, (2) technically ambitious to the point of absurdity, and (3) profoundly dystopian. To see why, suppose we had a system that made the NFT on a blockchain legally authoritative for ownership of a copyright, or of an original object, etc. There would still be the enforcement problem of getting everyone to respect the owner’s rights.

Grimmelmann clarifies in a footnote that just because NFTs might work for art, doesn’t mean they’re appropriate for… well, anything else:

A lot of the current hype around NFTs consists of the belief that the rest of the world will follow the same rules as NFT art. But of course part of the point of art is that it doesn’t follow the same rules as the rest of the world.

Source: I Do Not Think That NFT Means What You Think It Does | The Laboratorium

Build your ‘castle’ on land you own and control

This post is ostensibly about marketing a game studio, but it has wider lessons for all kinds of creators. Long story short? Don’t get seduced by ‘exposure’ but instead spend your time directing people towards places that you own and control.

The metaphors and graphics used are lovely, so be sure to click through and read it in its entirety!

Your game studio is basically your land. You are the king. You can do whatever you want on this plot of land and kick out who you want, charge what you want. Set the rules.

Goal here: You want to grow from this little tiny hamlet to a giant castle. You also want a bunch of people in your kingdom living there (aka playing your games), and paying you taxes (buying your games) and telling you how brilliant of a leader you are (fan mail, fan art) and enjoying the company of your kingdom’s fellow citizens (community engagement).

[…]

It is hard to make people leave a social media site. But you need to work hard at it.

With every single person who enters your castle in a foreign land, tell them “welcome, yes my castle is nice here, but did you know I do better stuff over there in that Kingdom across the sea?”

Always be working to get people over to your land.

Source: Don’t build your castle in other people’s kingdoms | How To Market A Game

Airbnb wants to give out shares to its superhosts

Note: I’m testing shorter, more to-the-point updates, alongside the regular ones. Let me know what you think in the comments!


Airbnb sent a letter to the SEC asking for the regulator to permit offering equity to hosts. Airbnb primarily supported changes to Securities Act Rule 701 that would allow offering shares to gig economy workers, not just investors and staff. CEO Brian Chesky characterized it as vital to rewarding the company’s supporters.

[…]

This isn’t the first time a gig-oriented online service has petitioned the SEC. Uber met with the Commission more than once to ask about the possibility. Airbnb is pushing for a direct policy change, however, where Uber was more interested in how it could offer shares under the existing framework.

Source: Engadget