The glow has gone off Non Fungible Tokens

During the pandemic, a particular fever called Non Fungible Tokens gripped the crypto world.

NFTs raised the level of abstract art to the ultimate level of abstraction. Using the same technology as cryptocurrencies, art could be purchased that existed in an ethereal digital form only.

image: SiouxieEMart NFT – Pulp fiction Girl

NFT art held both promise and hype. Finally, artists could make a living selling their art by bypassing the middlemen -the galleries and agents who take a cut of sales. Now artists could market their work directly to buyers.

NFTs promised could solve another problem: resale. Artists often sell their work to art speculators for very little. This is especially true for Indigenous artists who work in remote, sometimes Arctic, locations. Speculators sell the art for many times more than what they paid. The price can escalate with each sale, leaving the artist with a fraction of the eventual sales. NFT contracts could include a clause that requires a percentage of the resale price go to the artist.

I didn’t realize that my art was non-fungible two years ago but that was only because I didn’t know what the word “fungible” meant.

Fungible things can be exchanged for something else of the same kind: they are equivalent. A twenty dollar bill is fungible because it can be exchanged for a ten and two fives. A house is not fungible because you can’t exchange it for a garage and two sheds. They are not equivalent.

My art is non-fungible. One of my acrylic paintings can’t be exchanged for a charcoal sketch and two plastic-fork mobiles.

However, my non-fungible art is not in a digital form whose ownership is established by the cryptocurrency ledger called blockchain -it’s not a token. You can hang my art on the wall.

Scott Martin, an artist from Hamilton, Ontario, did very well selling NFTs. After studying art at college, he sold used car commercials. . In 2020, a friend encouraged him to sell his work as NFTs. His first attempt netted a few thousand dollars. “The more exciting part was just knowing somebody would want to pay for my work without actually being able to hold it,” he says.

Then he and partners released 10,000 drawings under the name Doodles. The series sold out within minutes. Since then, more than US$520-million worth of Doodles have traded hands, making it one of the most popular NFT collections in the world.

Not everyone thinks NFTs are a serious investment. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates alluded to the “greater fool” theory to describe NFTs which says that investors can make money on the most worthless asset so long as someone else is gullible enough to buy it at a higher price.

With the pandemic fever waning, investments in phantom money and art are losing their appeal. In general, the value of NFTs has been slashed in half.

The glow has gone off of NFTs. Investors are looking for safe havens, and it’s hard to think of a riskier asset than a JPG. “The bubble has burst, or still has to burst,” says Pedro Herrera, head of research at DappRadar. “Ninety to 95 per cent of the projects that we currently see in the market, in two years, will be worth close to zero.”


Should B.C. bubble-up with neighbours?

Canada’s four Atlantic Provinces have agreed to open their borders to each other on July 3, creating a regional pandemic bubble. What are the opportunities for B.C.?

image: Britannica

The Atlantic bubble means that travellers within the region will not be required to self-isolate after crossing the borders. Travellers will have show proof of residency with a driver’s licence or health card.

As we know from creating bubble families, picking who you want to bubble up with is tricky -a bit like asking someone to dance. Who is desirable? Are they available? Do they practice safe social intercourse?

For the Atlantic Provinces, it was easy. Not only are they attractive because they form a natural geographic area but also there are no active COVID-19 cases, with the exception of New Brunswick and that was caused by a doctor who was infected upon returning from Quebec. They form a natural regional bubble that’s desirable, available, and safe.

Countries can bubble up with neighbours as well. While not quite bubbles, the European Union has loosened border restrictions this week to 15 countries including Canada but not the U.S. Russia, or Brazil. The loosening includes countries that have controlled the spread of COVID-19.

But while some countries are desirable, they are not available. New Zealand makes an appealing partner because they have largely contained the virus. But they want nothing to do with bubbling after three new travel-related cases were reported.

Canada’s travel and tourism industries want to bring more countries to the dance floor. In an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau in the Globe and Mail, they say 14-day quarantines and travel restrictions are “no longer necessary” and are “out of step with other countries across the globe,”

Trudeau objects, saying that lifting travel restrictions now “would lead to a resurgence that might well force us to go back into lockdown.”

Epidemiologists agree with Trudeau. Lauren Lapointe-Shaw, general internist and clinical epidemiologist says: “Travel is the one segment of the economy that probably has the greatest potential to derail our ability to stay out of lockdown.”

The problem is not just being in a metal tube hurtling through the sky with dozens of other passengers, it’s the dangers that await you on landing. “When people travel, they don’t travel to stay indoors with their close travel companion at their arrival destination,” Dr. Lapointe-Shaw said. “Travel does have an outsized effect on the ability of outbreaks to grow quickly.”

When B.C. is stares across the dance floor at potential partners to bubble with, there are Alberta and Washington State.

B.C.’s relations with Alberta are a bit prickly. Last month, travelers with Alberta plates have received nasty notes and had tires slashed. One Alberta traveler had a note attached to his windshield reading: “F-ck off back to Alberta! Supposed to be not doing non-essential travel.” Soon after, he also noticed a large scratch on the side of his car.

The love with Alberta just isn’t there.

Washington State forms a natural geographic area with B.C. It’s part of Cascadia, a loose association of bioregions along the West Coast. While appealing, Washington is off limits as the U.S. spirals into an every-growing deadly pandemic.

It looks like B.C. will have to sit out this dance.