One of the most exciting things the past few years is undoubtably the NFT market. This is because we are watching it happen. It is the wild west, being shaped and defined by the creators and communities as we get to watch. This is the mid-90’s, where the internet was being built in the same way – exploring, making, dreaming. The time when our friend Tom from MySpace let his platform be as crazy as the creators wanted it to be.
And then came the borg. The animated GIFs and psychedelic colors of the web were collapsed into a grey and blue. Boxes were drawn, frames were set, and users were herded into nice compartments to share themselves to the world. Welcome to Facebook. It was the killer to creative expression. But it worked. And shortly afterward, brands felt FOMO and needed to create a brand page on Zuck’s constrained vision of the future web. They came with rucksacks of money, essentially remodeling the kitchen of a house they were renting. And fast forward to now, where brand content hits a mere 7% of user feeds. Read that as a 93% tax of your brand spend on Zuck’s world.
So back to NFTs. Sites like opensea.io, rarible, foundation and nifty are right now where we were before Facebook turned on. It is fun, open, commercial and silly in all the best ways. Along with this is the fascinating world of TikTok, a place where creators are in charge. Where influencers are welcome to stay on Instagram, shilling a static JPEG for Zuck’s tracking pleasure. This is where the next world will be created. But we have a threat. Zuck’s new post-whistleblower name change for Facebook, Meat, er, Meta is a public reveal for his long-time vision for his version of the metaverse. And it will be as ugly as what Facebook is today. A key thing to note in his reveal was that in the metaverse, you can be in a meeting and still carry on conversations with people not in the meeting, and the people in the meeting will have no idea you are not paying attention! This is what Zuck is here for – he wants so badly to be the MySpace Tom, always there, but unlike Tom, with a tight grip on how you behave in HIS world. And the big threat is that he can toss his pocket change into a fountain to make a wish and buy one or a few of the NFT marketplaces. He did this with Instagram and Oculus. And he does this like Soderberg picks films to direct, acting as if this is all new to the world because he is behind it. Zuck has seen SecondLife and Decentraland, and pretends they haven’t broken ground. He is going to buy his way to the future and crash it while making a convincing argument that you love it like there was nothing ever before.
Neal Stephenson, credited with coining the term Metaverse, wouldn’t want it this way. And neither should you. Keep innovation alive. Do this by ignoring it. Support the emerging artists on the NFT platforms. Join a few Discord chats. Find your own metaverse.
-James Rice, Digital Experience