What’s the real appeal and currency of NFTs? It’s not ethereum but attention and hype

The Pixelmon debacle shows that the main currency of NFTs is not ethereum but attention. This fuels a desperate scramble for publicity in the overcrowded NFT marketplace, often with hilarious results. Witness Randi Zuckerberg, NFT entrepreneur (and sister of Mark), whose all-singing, all-dancing video – a “rallying cry for the women” of this new era of the web – was so cringe-inducing it went viral.

The unnatural teaming of artists and tech nerds to create NFTs also creates a tinderbox. A project called Weather Report was once seen as one of the hottest prospects in the market devoted to cartoonish profile pictures. It unravelled when its lead artist, Dentin, fell out with the rest of the Weather Report team over payment terms. He hastily launched his own NFT project, DentedFeels, with similar artwork, drawing legal threats. Fans sided with the artist: Weather Report’s launch fizzled and DentedFeels NFTs were trading for double their rival. This soap opera played out publicly on Twitter and within Discord chat groups, fuelling a sense of proximity and accessibility between creators and speculators.

Some NFT artists are exhausted by this chaos-as-spectator-sport. Another much-anticipated project, WGMInterfaces, recently pulled its launch – likely leaving millions of dollars on the table – because its creators had become “overwhelmed and burnt out”. “In the past few months, the speculation and hype has truly taken all of the enjoyment out of what we’ve been trying to do”, they wrote in a blogpost.

For those that choose to cling on as the NFT rollercoaster takes another dive, speculation and hype are the very things keeping them going.

By Tim Bradshaw © 2022 The Financial Times

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