Communities, Clubhouse, Cryptos
On Clubhouse and frictionless discussions
On Cryptos, NFTs, and the meaning of value
On the new-new frontier of live discussions, panels and podcasts
All the major players are developing their responses to Clubhouse; a frictionless way to bring live conversations to the forefront of any person’s network, moving from passive after-the-fact consumption to in-the-moment active listening, is a fascinating proposition. Previously, everyone thought the answer to this was to focus on encouraging the increased production of voice recordings (Twitter’s in-feed voice feature) or podcasts (Spotify, Apple) but really, it was always less about the format, and more about the bringing of two or more people together in the same digital room in the easiest way possible.
You could argue Discord has been in this space for awhile now, bringing communities together around voice/video (and text) discussions on shared interests in an easy way. 140M people seem to agree; which led to the platform posting a $130M rev in 2020 (up from $45M in 2019). But what it is missing, in my opinion, is the seamless discoverability that is so critical for people to maneuver between communities as some of the other platforms/networks are designed for. Currently a lot of the community leaders or brands have to do the heavy lifting to pull people into their Discord channels.
I’m excited to see how all this shakes out either way, now that we have Twitter Spaces (live voice-only) and Instagram Live Rooms (live video), that seamlessly integrates into each person’s own social network, meaning you’re more than likely to be interested in hearing or watching two or more people you already follow discuss on something you are actually interested in (like Reggie Fils-Aimé, ex-Nintendo head honcho on Twitter Spaces with Geoff Keighley).
On the new frontier of NFTs, the destroyer of worlds, and on the meaning of value
NFTs have ignited the social consciousness of the Art Internet, with people taking up a clear position for and against it. The resounding argument against NFTs is very clearly the impact of it on the environment and there is an incredibly compelling thought-piece on that here. In addition, ArtStation, a premier platform for the art community, had recently announced their proof of concept for NFTs only to backpedal real fast in the face of its negative reception.
The pragmatic-realist in me sees that the NFT craze/bubble/hype, whatever you want to call it, is here to stay whether we like it or not. The moment someone realized that someone else was willing to pay an extraordinary amount of money for what are essentially just bytes and bits on the Internet, was the moment a whole lot of people went all-in on this. But therein lies the counter-argument, that depending on whose bytes and bits those were originally, that is the value of the object - like Jack Dorsey selling his first ever tweet for $2.5M.
I haven’t fully landed on what I feel about NFTs overall other than that at a fundamental level, it makes sense that it acts as a “receipt” on the blockchain to denote the one true owner of a digital object. People argue that it doesn’t stop someone from taking a screenshot or recording of the art (just as scammers and art thieves already do anyway), but regardless of how it plays out in reality, the core idea of NFTs is to simply imbue scarcity on an object to increase its worth/value, such that someone’s going to want to possess it.
As Mark Cuban argues, “valuing something we own has always been more art than science”. While I’ll take Cuban’s word on NFTs with a grain of salt (he’s got a massive stake in it and will naturally push it), as CryptoKitties, NBA videos, Logan Paul’s poorly drawn collectible cards and the GameStop stock all have clearly shown, anything can be of value if enough people agree on it. And all it takes is a single individual to value it enough.
I’m optimistic that NFTs, crypto, etc. can be good for the art world as a means to provide another avenue of monetization/protection for creators, especially as more and more art transitions into the digital space. But I do recognize that arriving at this “good version” of NFTs for the world means solving a chain of problems before it, including the fossil fuel consumption of crypto, the underlying nature of cryptocurrency itself as a speculative futures, and most importantly, the reshaping of reality that requires humans to make leaps and bounds of logic to collectively agree that this if the future of our currency and value system.
Elon Musk himself mentioned on a podcast with Cathie Woods back in 2019 that he was “not sure if it is a good use of Tesla resources to get involved with crypto” as they are trying to “accelerate the advent of sustainable energy”. He admitted there and then that one of the downsides of crypto is that computationally, it is “energy intensive”. We know however that since then, he’s obviously changed his mind enough to put crypto on Tesla’s balance sheet. So does he think that crypto is not as irresponsible of an investment any longer? He side-steps the environmental argument in favor of one that posits crypto as simply a hedge for an S&P500 company given “fiat currency has negative real interest”. And the prediction is more companies will follow.
More and more people are collectively agreeing that crypto is worth something; whether that’s as a new way to make money, as a store of value, or the absolute democratization of wealth as we know it.
When we finally arrive at the bleak future of a ravaged Earth, thanks to climate change and humanity’s repeated abuse of it, we’ll be communicating with one another in the language of the Internet - memes, and paying each other for our meme-ry with crypto.
Some people just want to get on that crypto train early, whether for their own gain or for a “bright” future free of the shackles of our current existence; while others believe it is vital we resist it to save what is left of Earth. What’s more valuable to you?
Thanks so much for landing on my newsletter. I am just interested in documenting my thoughts on things I’m passionate and fascinated by. If you have already subscribed, thank you so much; and if you’ve yet to subscribe, please consider subscribing for more content in the future.
Finally, if you’ve any thoughts, comments, feedback on today’s issue, feel free to let me know below. Till the next one!