NFTs: A Quick Primer
Have you ever purchased a digital comic book on one of the popular digital comic platforms? Or spent money to acquire cards in a popular TCG? Even if you gave money to one of those platforms you really didn’t buy anything. You can’t give that book away, you can’t resell it. The same is true for popular free to play digital TCGs… for digital music… for digital movies… for e-books… well, you get the point.
InterPop is a company that is looking to change the rules for digital collectibles with NFT comic books and NFT trading card game pieces that allow you to own your digital collectibles and have some agency over the things you buy. NFT is an acronym that’s entered the cultural zeitgeist over the past two years but has done so with a lot of misunderstanding and misapprehension.
Given that there’s been much to-do when it comes to both the ethics and legitimacy of NFTs, we thought we’d take a moment to clarify a few points and demonstrate why a team of long-time comics and collectibles and gaming industry folks saw something special in this emerging technology for both fans and creators as well as dispel a few popular misconceptions.
If you’re the kind of person whose friends or news feeds start rattling off information about NFTs and blockchain and your eyes glaze over as Daft Punk’s “Technologic,” starts playing on a loop inside your head, trust us: you’re not alone. The cryptoverse can be difficult to step into or even approach at a cautious distance. That’s why we’ve determined to create a suite of experiences that are built on a blockchain and rely on NFTs yet can be fully enjoyed with little to no prior knowledge.
What is an NFT?
What makes an NFT valuable as opposed to a seemingly identical digital image, song, GIF, etc? “NFT” stands for non-fungible token. If you’re racing for the dictionary to figure out just what in the world “fungible” means, that’s entirely sensible, but we’ll save you the trouble. Fungible simply means that the token is indistinguishable and interchangeable. Take a dollar, for example. A dollar in my wallet and a dollar in yours are virtually identical (even if you’ve drawn really rad Zeroth eyeshadow on George’s face).
Something that is non-fungible means that it can’t be interchanged with something else, like a Rembrandt painting. You can get a reproduction at the gift shop, but no one will make the case that it’s of equal value to the original.
NFTs are valuable because no matter the quantity created, the process of minting an NFT on a blockchain determines it to be the definitive and indisputable “original” of the digital asset. Think of it like the ultimate version of a certificate of authenticity.
An ecological scourge or a collector’s dream… depends on the chain
One of the first things you need to know about NFTs is that they are inimitable representations for digital objects, experiences, or anything else that can be minted on-chain. Not all NFTs are created equally, or, more accurately, the blockchain upon which an NFT is minted has a massive impact on both the cost of “minting” (putting an NFT on-chain) and its energy footprint.
Some of the most ubiquitous blockchains (spoiler alert: not the one that powers our NFTs) rely on a method called Proof of Work to create blocks on the network, thereby expanding the network’s capacity to execute smart contracts and operations. Proof of Work chains require hardware (which uses energy… a lot of energy) to create these blocks. In common parlance, this method is known as “mining.” Any PC gamer desperate to buy the latest graphics card can attest to the frustration borne of the shortage caused by mass purchases of the hardware to mine. Unsurprisingly, this massive use of computing power requires a massive use of electrical power. According to third-party assessments, two of the most popular Proof of Work blockchains have the same annual energy footprint of Argentina and Ecuador, respectively.
In this regard, yes, NFTs minted on a Proof of Work blockchain can have a significant, even drastic, environmental impact.
Like we said earlier, not all NFTs are created equally. Just like not all blockchains are created equally. That’s where Tezos comes in. If there were a superhero equivalent, Captain Planet would be a pretty decent approximation. Tezos uses an entirely different method to validate its network, called Proof of Stake. This boils down to users (called “bakers” in the Tezos vernacular) staking their own tez (Tezos’ native cryptocurrency) and operating a node to create block creation. The more staked, the more blocks. The more blocks… well we covered that already.
One of the very important distinctions here is that a baker can stake tez using very, very little hardware power. Ostensibly, one could use a raspberry pi for all of this. A Tesla’s computer was even used to run a node on Tezos earlier this year.
Estimates point to Tezos having a carbon footprint 2 million times lower than popular Proof of Work Blockchains.
New kids on the block(chain)
The low carbon footprint of Tezos was a huge draw for our team to be converted to the fact that there was a sustainable way to tap into this technology. But that wasn’t the only reason. Tezos also has a proven track record for successful upgrades (something that can be a major challenge in the realm of blockchain). Since the Tezos mainnet went live in 2018, it’s undergone nine upgrades. If that doesn’t mean much to you, you’re probably not alone. But it’s a very important quality when it comes to our vision for digital collectibles because it instills confidence that Tezos is here to stay.
If you buy a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, (first of all, good for you!) you can keep it in a hyperbaric chamber to preserve it for the foreseeable future, but what about digital collectibles? Technology is always changing! Well, the ability to upgrade so regularly and smoothly suggests that Tezos could very well be around 500 years from now. And not only does it function as the storage house of a collectible, it’s also the provenance of authenticity, and the mechanism of selling/trading them. Tezos presents a unique opportunity to create a long-lasting ecosystem for collectors of all kinds to experience a new frontier.
You still with me?
You’re a champion! We know this can sound arcane, but we truly believe that this technology is the way to create the kinds of experiences for our fans that we, as fans ourselves, have always dreamt of.