Twitter founder Jack Dorsey offers his first tweet for sale. Enthusiasts can bid on a digital certificate making the very first message on the platform the official property of the buyer.
“Just setting up my twttrDorsey wrote on March 21, 2006. Several hundred thousand bids have already been made on the short message via a digital auction site.
Although the digital object can be copied or downloaded by anyone, nowadays the sale of digital products is possible through blockchain technology. This allows one person to receive a unique, transferable designation as owner, a non-fungible token (NFT), a non-redeemable attribute.
“To compare it to a physical art collection, anyone can buy a Monet poster, but only one person can have the original,” argues tech website The Verge, although the author of that explanation admits the concept is difficult to grasp. “I think I understand after hours of reading. But I also think I’m going to burst into tears.”
Understandable or not, for digital artists, NFTs are an ideal way to earn from their otherwise reproducible work with impunity. In fact, because an NFT code can determine that the creator will also receive a share from future transactions, money flows in every time the certificate is sold. This is a major advantage compared to physical art: after all, Van Gogh never benefited from the prizes others received for his work.
One of the best-known transactions with an NFT is the sale of the Nyan Cat GIF, a simple animation of a flying cat leaving a rainbow. In honor of the tenth anniversary of the popular meme designer Chris Torres made a new version of it, which was sold with an NFT for half a million euros.
Auction site Valuables has several reasons why someone would want to buy a digital object that is freely accessible to others. “It can be an investment, it can have an emotional value or you create a bond between you and the maker. Just like a signature on a football picture, the NFT made this material unique and precious.”
The Verge sums it up more succinctly: “Buyers really just get the right to brag.”