This year non-fungible tokens burst into the mainstream after several digital images and animations sold for absurd amounts – so I entered the world of NFTs myself
For years, I’ve kept an ever-growing record of interesting pictures I discover online in a folder entitled Images on my desktop: a fox sauntering through an art gallery; a pixelated rendering of a Tokyo streetscape; Jon Bon Jovi doing yoga. They’re sentimental reminders of things I’ve seen online, but I am under no illusion that I somehow own these images. They come from the internet and can be copied, shared and experienced by many people all at once. My collection really is worthless to anyone but me.Recently, however, I became aware that I can now actually own a digital image all for myself, and then potentially sell it for a profit. This class of image is called an NFT, which stands for non-fungible token. A fungible item, like a $10 note, can be traded one for another. A non-fungible item, like a Monet painting, is unique and irreplaceable. An NFT is a digital item on a blockchain that is assigned a singular and unique ID. This means that the provenance of the image can be traced, differentiating the original from all subsequent copies – like a digital simulation of a Monet.