NFTs with functionality

Sunday 5th September, 2021 - Bruce Sterling

*This seems plausible. Also, this blogpost is six months old, so I rather expect this to start happening in some way that I’ll notice.

NFTs are about more than art
by John Palmer


Basically, NFTs are about proven ownership of something digital, and what that unlocks for the owner. Right now, we’re in a phase where the main thing people “unlock” by owning an NFT is simply the clout or recognition of ownership. So everyone is scrambling to figure out what it might be valuable to own from this point of view: art, tweets, essays, etc. (and who knows, maybe a lot of that is actually right).

My main point is: I think where things will get interesting is when ownership of an NFT unlocks abilities besides just recognition or resale value to the owner. Of course, recognition and resale value will always be part of owning an NFT, but I don’t think it’s the full picture.

I like in-game items as an example because it’s a clear example of an NFT “unlocking” some new ability for the owner. In the case of in-game items, we can get out of the “NFT as canonical media instance” world and into a true digital object metaphor. For example, you can have a digital object in your wallet whose metadata contains not just a link to a JPEG, but rather a 3D object file plus some game-relevant attributes like attack power, defense power, etc. This means that any individual game you play could look in your wallet, import that object into its world, and use those attributes within its own combat system.

You could even imagine scanning your crypto wallet into something like Gather, and then being able to place special items from your wallet inside your digital office. I think these concepts have been well covered by the “metaverse” crowd…