Mateo discovered NFTs.

I discovered NFTs in September. Yes, I had heard about them in the news but hearing about something and paying attention are two different things. A light when off in my head when my son said “people like to collect things.”

Let’s back up and start with crypto. I had heard about it in the news but didn’t pay much attention. It wasn’t until I whimsically threw $200 into Doge on Robinhood towards the end of 2020 simply because the app made it easy and I liked memes. Well, that $200 spiked to $1,200 and that definitely got my attention. This started my interest in crypto and I realized this type of thing is right up my alley! I’ve been a computer nerd since 1993 and it is huge innovations like this which I love.

Well, I didn’t “get” NFTs until my son said people like to collect things and then I started to look into it. I’m now going down the NFT rabbit hole because, like crypto, I can see as clear as day that it is the future and I get the privilege of being a first adopter. There is something exciting discovering something online before anyone else does or even knows what it is. I was the first one out of everyone I knew to have his own website. I was the first on Facebook before anyone I knew and I remember how fun it was “throwing midgets” at everyone I hadn’t seen in years as they came on the platform. And now, I’m one of only a handful of people I know into crypto and NFT.

The fact is the internet is changing very quickly into something collectively called Web 3.0. Not even the mainstream news has really picked up on it as they’re still trying to figure out what the Metaverse is. Or maybe it is because the majority of their viewership wouldn’t understand and change the channel?

Anyway, there is an absolute explosion of innovation that I can only describe as “SQUIRREL! x 10,000.” In “surfing the net” I think I’ve stumbled upon the most wonderful and interesting project that will capture all my attention only to realize there are seemingly endless fantastic projects if I just click my mouse once more.

Well, as this post is about NFTs, I’ll share a few of mine and offer a simple explanation as to what this is all about. To begin, let’s go back in time and talk about baseball.

Say we’re in the early 1800s and I tell you people are really going to love this seemingly child’s game where you hit a ball and run in a circle. One day fully grown men will pay a lot of money to watch other fully grown men do this. They will buy shirts with other men’s names on them and get really excited or angry depending if their favorite group goes around the circle more times than another group! And you know what!? We are going to take pictures of these men, put them on cardboard and people will pay LOTS of money for them.

Would this person not be put in the looney bin for these crazy ideas? Well, here we are in 2021 and all these things are true; men do pay lots of money for pictures of other men on cardboard.

Why?

Because people like to collect things and they perceive that these pictures on cardboard are valuable. They are also of limited number which makes them scarce. The only reason they are valuable is because enough people want to collect them as well. There is a demand and a limited supply.

So to make the jump to an NFT we take the same reasoning and just apply it to the digital realm. Where people get stuck in understanding this is they do not understand how a digital item can be unique which I”ll explain in a minute. If I stick with my baseball example someone will tell me their rookie Ricky Henderson is valuable because very few other people have it. Well, what if I just put it on a Xerox machine, make a copy and glue the image to cardboard, then I can have it as well. If I go to a professional enough place I imagine I could make a copy where you couldn’t even tell the difference. What is to stop me?

Well, the law is there to stop me. I will get sued by the Topps company and perhaps go to jail. The law (and counterfeit hardware) is the only thing stopping me from printing as many copies of any cards I want.

With NFTs, copies of a digital cards or artwork are much simpler to do than finding a great Xerox machine. Just click copy and “save as” and you can have the image as well. So what gives an NFT value? In this regard an NFT is more secure than a physical cardboard baseball card that can be copied on a Xerox; the ownership, rarity and uniqueness are conferred by an immutable (unchangeable) record on the blockchain. The blockchain will show how many of the image were “minted” (created) and who (which wallet) owns them. The “law” is no longer needed as a guard against counterfeiting. The code cannot be changed or modified, thus the NFTs are limited and unique. This is the hard part for most people to understand.

The artist will usually only make a finite number of copies which make them scarce. So next all you need is demand and us “computer people” certainly like this NFT idea given the absolute explosion in this new technology.

My journey started on the WAX blockchain since I noticed that Topps was actually producing NFT baseball cards and WAX was the blockchain they had selected.

But as I am not a baseball fan I do not care about baseball cards. I bought the above Brandon Crawford just to show my friends what an NFT was and thought they’d most easily relate to baseball cards.

As I explored I came across other NFT collections and quickly found NFTs that got my attention. In fact, I believe us middle aged guys were being targeted as many collections were from my youth!

When I saw Garbage Pail Kids I was immediately hooked. Below is a picture of my original Garbage Pail Kid card from the ’80s next to my newly bought NFT.

At the same time I saw another collection also from my childhood. I distinctly remember watching this “cartoon” when I was in the 2nd or 3rd grade and it left a strong impression on me.

There were collections for Atari, Street Fighter and other beloved memorabilia from my childhood!

I remember playing Street Fighter in the arcade! Chun-Li was always my character for her jumping straight up kick – I’d call it a “tobi-ke-age” in Kyokushin. Her helicopter kick was also deadly. It just seemed like I could always win with her so she was my main. So of course I had to have the NFT. You see, they are targeting us middle aged guys with the NFT collections!

I then ventured out of the nostalgic collections and have bought NFTs in other areas.

Tokugawa Ieyasu!! This is the most famous samurai in Japan and was the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate, the ruling family of Japan for about 400 years or so. I randomly clicked on the artist Ishiki Arata and really liked his work. I was also surprised to see he is not Japanese but Romanian! No matter, I like his art and so bought quite a few which I’ll be proud to display in my virtual home wherever that ends up being.

In fact, I’ve been to the grave of Tokugawa Ieyasu which is in Tochigi Prefecture Japan

Now to discuss why NFTs are valuable. Looking at the picture of Ieyasu’s grave above how can you be sure that I’ve actually been to this grave and not just copied an image? Well, I didn’t strip out the metadata so all you need to do is download the image and look at the code behind the image to see the coordinates of where the picture was taken as well as other information. It is my image and through the metadata I can prove it. (I’m not sure if you can fake metadata but let’s not overcomplicate things.)

The proof of ownership, scarcity, and other information is also in the code for NFTs. Using the same NFT of Tokugawa Ieyasu here it is with the code behind it.

Tokugawa Ieyasu NFT with Code

The code is on the blockchain which is an immutable record, it cannot be changed. It shows that I own this NFT, that it is limited in quantity, and lists the sales history. It cannot be stolen and although the image can be copied, the proof of ownership cannot. This combined with supply/demand give an NFT value.

Aside from must collecting the uses of NFTs are growing day by day. In trying to understand why a “Bored Ape” NFT would sell for thousands I learned that owning certain NFTs give you access to certain clubs. Communities are developing around NFTs and the barrier to join is simply owning one. This idea is going to continue developing and one cannot even fathom how this will all play out in the future.

For example here is one from the DFINITY project which is working to build the “Internet Computer” or the entire next generation of internet! I became interested in this project when I saw their token ICP blast onto the scene earlier this year. I joined their DSCVR chat DApp as soon as it was available and to my delight they gifted me a Motoko NFT!

Motoko Internet Computer NFT Link:

https://oeee4-qaaaa-aaaak-qaaeq-cai.raw.ic0.app/?tokenid=nlqgh-gakor-uwiaa-aaaaa-cuaab-eaqca-aaajd-q

The trend these days is to put an NFT you own as your profile picture to prove membership to some sort of group. If I were to put this Motoko NFT as my profile picture then many others in the internet community would know I’m active on DSCVR and support DFINITY. As for me, a mask I physically own is my profile picture across the internet so perhaps I will mint it as an NFT, although it won’t confer any membership privileges on me. I’m OK with being a club of one, especially with all that is going on these days.

Mateo de Colón

I also learned this morning that I could own an NFT which is art based on my very first Ethereum transaction. I thought this was cool so I did it and here is the result.

Mateo’s Ethereum Birthblock

Link to the above image on OpenSea.

https://opensea.io/assets/0x2Ba797C234C8fE25847225B11b616bCE729B0B53/611

You want to guess how much my Ethereum Birthblock NFT cost?

$103.77!!!

About $55 for the cost and then the rest in Ethereum gas fees. :-O

Why?! Why would anyone in their right mind pay that amount? What you have to realize is that I didn’t whip out a credit card for this, nor did I fork over cash. I paid in crypto, .01 Ethereum to be precise (plus horrible gas fees) and crypto swings wildly. Not more than a few months ago I was feeling very crypto poor and now that it is at all time highs I’m feeling more spendy! Also, in order to learn crypto, DApps and various projects one must spend crypto. So I look at it as a fee for education. I’m also getting something rare in return.

Well, I’ve written a novel. To end this post I would say that I am a believer in crypto and am a believer in NFTs. The future has never appeared so obvious to me. Now it is simply a matter of how all of this develops and timescale it is adopted into the mainstream. To use another example let’s look at e-mail.

To send an e-mail you don’t need to lookup your friend’s IP address nor whip open a terminal and put in a bunch of code to send an e-mail. You just need type it out and press send.

With NFTs and Crypto we’re not yet at that “just press the button” stage that is needed for mass adoption. Even with new companies such as Coinbase that make buying and selling quite easy, one still needs to be pretty comfortable with tech. I see as clear as day the future is crypto and NFTs, it is all just a matter of time and I’ll enjoy the ride.

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! \(^.^)/