I'm slightly adjusting an email response I wrote earlier this week and posting it here. This was a relatively quick one, which I don't usually do, so I apologize for sloppier writing than usual.
I thought this tweet by Reggie was to the point, and maybe the whole thread is interesting to peek at.
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.
In tech, we're constantly framing early stage companies around the search for product-market fit. But entering a time where individual creators are viewed as businesses of their own, I've been thinking about the reverse: "BusinessModel-Content Fit."
We're all familiar with the quote "First we shape our tools, thereafter they shape us," often misattributed to Marshall McLuhan. It's true that with work of any kind, the tools available to us influence the work we create. It follows that in times where nearly every interaction is financialized to some degree, this effect is less about tools and more about business models.
I noted this in the announcement of the $ESSAY crowdfund last month:
When the only tool around for getting paid to write is a newsletter publisher, it's no wonder we see more and more newsletters, and less of everything else.
A new experiment begins today: using crypto to crowdfund the next essay I'm writing, titled Scissor Labels.
Instead of publishing my work for free, or putting it behind a paywall, I'm doing something in between: raising funds to produce a new essay in exchange for ownership of the work. This will allow me to devote my full time to writing the piece, while allowing it to exist as a public good for anyone to read. The crowdfund is now live, and will stay open for one week, or until the cap is hit.
We live in an age of constant narrative conflict. But today, not every battle is legible to the untrained observer. While some grifts are plainly perpetrated by would-be thought leaders, other battles for narrative control are hiding in plain sight, happening under the guise of intellectual debate. When these battles go unrecognized for what they are, even the best among us fall victim to meaningless conversations that waste the time of those involved. In this piece, I introduce the concept of "scissor labels," why they foment controversy, and how they're different from other linguistic debates. I then suggest how to engage with this phenomenon with a more fruitful, future-oriented mindset.
A specific shape of online debate caught my attention in 2020. As I've reflected on the past year, I've realized that this pattern is happening frequently but is rarely understood.
I'm really excited to be trying something new this week: using crypto to crowdfund the next essay I'm writing, titled 'Scissor Labels.'
Instead of publishing my work for free, or putting it behind a paywall, I'm doing something in between: raising funds to produce a new essay in exchange for ownership of the work. This will allow me to devote my full time to writing the piece, while allowing it to exist as a public good for anyone to read.
Below is Mirror's new Crowdfunding Block, which contains everything you need to know about backing this project. The crowdfund will go live on Thursday, January 28th at 12pm PT.