What if NFTs aren’t pointless?. Why the downfall of TikTok may mark the… | by Tamara Adlin | Mar, 2024

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Why the downfall of TikTok may mark the moment people realize the value of NFTs and the blockchain.

A chimpanzee sitting at a desk working on a computer with a thought bubble that says “I’m so not bored.”
Bored Apes made a lot of noise and a lot of money (for a few people). But NFTs are much, much bigger than collectible JPGs.

I bet you think NFTs are dumb. You’re not alone. Trying to get an investment in anything that relates to NFTs is nearly impossible right now.

As I write this, cryptocurrencies are surging. The other part of the blockchain world is really all about NFTs, which let you encapsulate value related to a whole host of things, including content and even relationships.

Like so many early versions of interesting tech, NFTs were a solution looking for a problem. Guess what. The problem just showed up.

I’ve been through the whole entire hope, hype, humiliation, and hostility cycle of NFTs*. But here’s why I think NFTs aren’t dead–they just showed up too early for their own good and had to go into hibernation.

  • Full disclosure: I’ve been an advisor to Cent.co since 2017. Their primary objective is to bring ownership of creations and audiences back to creators, and with ownership comes potential income.

That news is all about laws that may (or may not) enable states to outlaw TikTok.

Why this is causing a huge stir:

  • Lots of people make money by sharing content on TikTok. Some people make ALL their money this way.
  • It’s ‘free’ to use TikTok if you are a creator.
  • New legislation might make TikTok illegal because the parent company is in China.
  • Creators are freaking out because they are very dependent on TikTok.

Let’s break that down.

Lots of people make money by sharing content on TikTok. Some people make ALL their money this way.

No matter what you think of TikTok content, you can’t argue that it’s worthless. People make real money creating and sharing their content. That means that some of the content on TikTok has actual value, not just a hype cycle around a hot-but-intrinsically-worthless collectible.

It’s ‘free’ to use TikTok if you are a creator.

No, it isn’t. It might not cost creators money to use TikTok, but there are some a heavy prices, and we are seeing a big one: TikTok creators have handed over ownership of their content, and control of their audiences, to a company. That company is under threat, which means all that content and audience relationships are under threat. Creators might have accounts on other platforms they can try to get people to move to, but there’s no way to simply remove everything of value from TikTok and bring it to another provider.

It’s kinda like a few years ago when you couldn’t easily switch cellular providers. Your phone was locked, which meant you had to buy a new phone — and you might even have to get a brand new phone number. Which meant basically starting from zero just to get a slightly cheaper phone bill.

New legislation might make TikTok illegal because the parent company is in China.

If I spend a lot of time creating content, and that content has value, shouldn’t that mean that I own something of value? And if I own it, shouldn’t that value exist no matter what happens to platforms or companies or laws? Shouldn’t I be able to do something like switching cellular providers today, which is basically just flip a switch to take advantage of another platform’s offerings? Shouldn’t I be able to hang my art in another gallery? Shouldn’t I be able to take all my fans with me, no matter how I got them, and no matter where I want to take them?

Creators are freaking out because they are very dependent on TikTok.

Yes, they are, because no matter how much work they did on creating content (which actually does have value) and building up an audience (aka customers), they have no ability to keep what they’ve built if TikTok is no longer an option.

Creators are realizing that the hidden price of TikTok is their ability to keep their content, their audience, their momentum, and the future earning potential all of that affords.

NFTs = ownership of creations and relationships built around those creations by creators.

The TikTok controversy is finally making it crystal-clear that:

  • Ownership matters
  • Digital content can have actual value to people
  • An audience is an asset
  • Platforms like our familiar social networks bring value, but they have hidden (and HUGE) costs

Guess what? NFTs (and the blockchain technologies they are built on) solve these problems. Blockchains enable verifiable ownership of digital content and relationships, which brings control, company-independence and power back to creators. Get ready to get interested in NFTs again.

Tamara Adlin is a product and user experience expert with 25 years’ experience helping early-stage startups and innovation teams. For the past five years, she has focused on bringing UX and product best practices into the world of Web3. Interested in getting some help with your Web3 product? Contact her at www.adlininc.com

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