The Great NFT Conference
At the beginning of November, NFT.NYC took place. NFT.NYC is a conference dedicated to NFTs, or non fungible tokens, which have taken the world by storm this year in the fields of art and cryptocurrency. This is the third year of the conference, but the first time it has attracted such attention, with a selected crowd of 5000 people, and a 3000 person wait list. During the day, participants went to fairly run-of-the-mill booths and panels such as “Mainstreaming Blockchain Games” or “Fintech and NFTs: Risk and Regulation”.
Night was an entirely different story. As the almost exclusively digital NFT transitioned to an in-person meeting, attendees engaged in countless revelries in an unofficial party circuit referred to as “Crypto Coachella”. The Bored Ape Yacht Club, an exclusive clique of NFT elites that possess a collection of monkey cartoons valued at $2.7M USD for the most expensive piece, threw a party on an actual yacht located on the Hudson River. Another day, a party was held at VR World in Midtown New York with NFT collector Seedphrase serving as DJ wearing a light-up CryptoPunk helmet. Additionally, Playboy hosted a party in downtown New York, with a diverse group of entrepreneurs and draq queens, announcing the new NFT collection “Rabbitars”. This diversity is often present in NFT communities because of the intersection of financial investors along with artists and musicians who produce the NFTs.
Virtual to IRL
Several traditions were hard to preserve into an in-person format. Most NFT collectors usually interact with each other through Twitter or Discord, using digital aliases and/or pseudonyms along with cartoon avatars. Additionally, customs such as the #wagmi were hard to transfer into real life. #wagmi means we’re all gonna make it, which was distributed on T-shirts to conference attendees. It drew confused looks and did not have the same effect as using the hashtag on a digital platform. Additionally, the phrase ‘gm’ is common among cryptomongerers, meaning ‘good morning’. A NFT rally started in Times Square struggled to start the chant ‘gm, New York’, ending in embarrassment =t for those who participated and those who watched the spectacle.
Additionally, explaining the transition from digital to in-person is difficult to explain for those not actively participating in NFT culture. Many attempts were made by conferencegoers with the use of the term ‘provenance’, meaning the beginning, or origin of something. A simple answer is that collectors buy digital tokens that correspond to digital cartoons, because they can amass immense monetary value, and can be traded to reap profits.
The NFT Experience
VIPs attending the conference gathered for reception at the roof of the Edison Hotel, conversing in small talk about their investments, projects, and how NFT became an important factor in their lives. “I met so many people online in the past year, and they’re all here. I’m with my people and I don’t have to hold back or translate”, stated Keith Soljacich, an advertising executive based in Chicago who also dabbled in NFTs. Jessica Ewud, with the pseudonym Ragzy, is an NFT artist who essentially thought of the conference as an introduction for the cryptocurrency to mainstream society. “It’s just all the worlds coming together – arts, technology – and we’re celebrating this beautiful time of this booming industry.” The positive outlook is shared by many of the conference-goers.
This, to me, is WoodstockKenn Bosak
Kenn Bosak is a Philadelphia-based NFT collector, who additionally has a small face tattoo saying “N-F-T” which he acquired the day he became a millionaire. Woodstock was much like NFT.NYC, as it was mainstream society’s introduction to the culture of the youth at the time. The scale of the conferences are different with cryptocurrency being a huge industry, which is additionally shifting itself to youthful culture.
Web3 is the hot, new industry term for a novel decentralized internet service. Different from those running on huge servers owned by tech giants in FAANG, but instead on public blockchains, using a token system. With Web3, applications would run on blockchains, or decentralized networks formed by countless nodes. Web3 and cryptocurrency are often brought up in the same conversation because cryptocurrency can be used as a financial incentive to those who want to participate in decentralized apps, or dapps. Web3 will be part of the future, with Zuckerberg’s Metaverse plan, and we may soon be seeing an internet renaissance as we transform into a decentralized society.