The news keeps getting worse for crypto and NFTs.
If you want a handy transcript of the carnage, you can fall down the rabbit hole reading "Web3 Is Going Just Great," former HubSpot developer Molly White's blow-by-blow account of the seedy underbelly of NFT/DeFi/crypto rug-pulls, exploits, wipeouts, and other shenanigans.
I mean, I knew there was a lot of shady stuff happening in the NFT universe, but scrolling through Molly's site is like watching a long, slow, stupid, multicar pileup. There's even a ticker at the bottom showing how much "money" got burned as you read each quick hit.
So before you argue with me about the future of NFTs, one way or the other (They're the future! They're a scam!), let me try to shoot a little foam on the (fake-money-fueled) fire.
I'm Not a Noob, Just a Fan of Nuance
I don't have impeccable NFT bona fides, but I know more than almost anyone who isn't actively involved in an NFT project, and these days that ever-growing army of "noobs" includes most of the people holding NFTs.
I don't trade crypto or NFTs and haven't held either since 2018. I did not become an overnight Bitcoin millionaire, but I have created both my own digital coin and my own collection of NFTs, and neither one was very difficult to whip up. I'm a technologist and an engineer, but I didn't have to be. All I had to do was follow a few scripts and find a more-than-willing blockchain or marketplace to host the results of my third-grade hackery.
I will also clarify that I never transacted any of what I created myself. I did what I did for my own education. But my point is, when I can essentially birth my own JoeCoin or Bored Joe Yacht Club in the wee hours of the morning before I go to real work, I get skeptical of the machine.
So both my coin and my NFTs went on the pile with all the other stuff that I'm quick to experiment with and make judgment calls on. Like my Clubhouse account and my Oculus.
It's not that those things suck, it's just that they suck right now. Maybe someday they'll be worth the time and effort. But I'm chasing too many other objects and subjects that have a more tangible utility.
And I think I just described how every technologist feels about NFTs, at least the ones who aren't trying to rip off all those overnight Bitcoin millionaires. And maybe also Seth Green.
This Has All Happened Before
If you want to know why the jury is still out on the veracity of NFTs as a concept, you don't have to look any further than the thing you're staring at right now.
Almost everything that's being said about NFTs today was being said about the internet in the 1990s. Same with crypto. The internet was going to overthrow governments, it was the ultimate libertarian playground offering maximum freedom, it gave everyone a fair shake.
Until it didn't.
There were companies, individuals, and celebrities all springing up around this fancy new series of pipes, convinced that they had the tap to the gold mine. They promised everything from free computers to internet cash to a clunky, boring, first conceptualization of the metaverse.
Then the "dot-bomb" exploded. For those who didn't live it, it was the internet version of Crypto Winter, and the vast majority of those companies, individuals, and celebrities crawled away broken and shamed (a little). There was a website that documented the demise: F*ckedcompany.com.
Here's the link again: "Web3 Is Going Just Great." Same thing, different tech.
There's a reason that NFTs are a young person's game. It's because they, like me back in the 1990s, see both the utility and the futility of the science. They see the promise AND the Ponzi scheme. And some of them know their history. And they know the internet is still here making millionaires overnight with startup and venture capital money.
For the record, a ton of those startups and a bunch of those VCs didn't survive the dot-bomb either.
Then it all happened again in the late aughts around mobile. It's 15 years later, and there is still a duopoly collecting up to 30 percent of all the mobile money.
The view that crypto and NFTs are just scam sandwiches is a shortsighted one. But the "gold rush" in crypto happened in 2012 and ended when Bitcoin hit $20,000. The beginning of the end of the gold rush in NFTs is probably ending with Bored Apes. You'll know it's over when Molly White gets bored.
In 2022, VC investors are finally demanding revenue and profit from their internet startup investments, some 25 years after they started pouring money into them in exchange for "eyeballs." There will be utility in NFTs down the road, the metaverse will happen, and you can be as sure of that as you can be sure of the fact that you don't have to carry physical money or even a credit card with you anymore.
The internet won, and it won on utility. The NFT jury hasn't seen all the evidence yet, because it's really difficult to sift through all the scams and thefts and schemes to get to the truth.